The Catholic Defender: The Korean Catholic Faith Courageous and Strong
And now, bless the God of all, who has done wondrous things on earth; Who fosters people’s growth from their mother’s womb, and fashions them according to his will! May he grant you joy of heart and may peace abide among you; May his goodness toward us endure in Israel to deliver us in our days. Sirach 50:22-24
As the Lord fosters growth of the unborn child, so too does He foster growth of His holy Catholic Church. On 27 September 1637, St. Lorenzo and his Companions were taken to the Nishizaka Hill and tortured through what was called “tsurushi” ((釣殺し) in Japanese). The Spanish called this torture “horca y hoya”. This was a terrible torture that caused extreme pain.
The victim was bound, one hand is always left free so that victims may be able to signal that they recanted, and they would be freed. St. Lorenzo refused to renounce Christianity and died from blood loss and suffocation.
According to Latin missionary accounts sent back to Manila, St. Lorenzo last words before his death: “I am a Catholic and wholeheartedly do accept death for the Lord; If I had a thousand lives, all these I shall offer to Him.”
I spent time in Korea and so I have a passion for the Korean Martyrs and what they suffered. As I looked upon this Shrine, I recalled the story as follows:
The Catholic Missionaries had made inroads into China and Ni-seung-houn, a native Korean, traveled to Beijingin 1784 to study the Catholic Faith. He fell totally in love with the God of Heaven, He gave his life to Jesus and Mary and was baptized by Catholic Peter Ri who had brought many Koreans to the Catholic Faith. Ni-seung-houn returned to Korea with a new heart and mind with an evangelistic mindset. However, the Korean Government viewed these Catholic converts as traitors to Korea.
In 1791, a terrible persecution developed but the faith continued to grow because of the testimony of these Korean converts. Father James Tsiou, a Chinese National, went to Korea and found a strong Catholic presence in the underground movement.
Ultimately, Father Tsiou died a Martyr for the Korean people. Because of the European priests who were going to Korea, by 1839, more terrible persecutions began. The first native Korean priest, Father Andrew Kim Taegon, was martyred in 1845. In 1864, two bishops, six French Missionaries, a Korean priest and another 8 thousand Korean Catholics were martyred for their Catholic Faith.
St. Pope John Paul II canonized the martyrs of the 1839, 1846, and 1869 persecutions and honored them during his trip to Korea October 6-10, 1989. Hundreds of thousands of the growing Korean Church came out to hear the Pope speak to them in Korean as he learned enough to preach months before the event.
FR. DON JONG-SU JOHN KIM Rector, Pontifical Korean College (Rome) “It was the laity who introduced the Catholic Church in Korea. This is a unique situation for the rest of the world. After its introduction, the faith grew through the blood of the martyrs. Catholics in Korea were persecuted for almost a century following the establishment of the Church in the country.”
Today there are more than 5 million Catholics in Korea. There is so much information going through St. Andrew’s Catholic Church in Sierra Vista, Arizona. The people there are very much alive in faith. Father Greg, the Pastor of the Parish, in his homily, spoke of the Trinity with this illustration. God the Father is the purpose, Jesus is the passion, and the Holy Spirit is the Power of God. I now add this praise to the Eucharistic table. God is the purpose, passion, and power of all that is in His name.
Please pray for the persecuted Church in the Middle East, what is taking place in Iraq, Syria, and other Islamic Countries is a terrible outcry to the Lord.