July 8, 2016

Optional Memorial of Saint Augustine Zhao Rong & Companions

St. Augustine Zhao Rong and companions

July 9th, the Church celebrates the Feast Day of the Martyred Saints of China, or Augustine Zhao Rong and his 119 companions. Beatified in groups at various times, St. John Paul II canonized these 120 martyrs in Rome on October 1, 2000. They consisted of 87 Chinese Catholics, and 33 Western Missionaries from the mid-17th century to 1930.  They were martyred because of being missionaries, and in some cases, for their refusal to apostatize. Many died in the Boxer Rebellion, in which xenophobic peasants slaughtered 30,000 Chinese converts to Christianity along with missionaries and other foreigners.  

Although Christianity had spread itself around the world by this time, it did not reach China until the 600’s, by way of Syria. Depending on China’s relations with the outside world, Christianity over the centuries was free to grow or was forced to operated secretly.

The martyrs in this group all died between 1648 and 1930.  Most of them born in China were children, parents, catechists or laborers, ranging from nine years old to age 72.  This included four Chinese diocesan Priests.  The 33 from the western world were mostly Priests or Women Religious, especially from the Order of Preachers, the Paris Foreign Mission Society, the Friars Minor, Jesuits, Salesians, and Franciscan Missionaries of Mary.

Augustine Zhao Rong was a Chinese Soldier, who accompanied Bishop John Gabriel Taurin Dufresse, a Paris Foreign Mission Society member, to his martyrdom in Beijing.  Augustine was baptized and not long after was ordained as a diocesan Priest.  He was martyred in 1815.

Adapted excerpt from The Newman Connection.

The Story of St. Augustine Zhao Rong and Companions

Christianity arrived in China by way of Syria in the 600s. Depending on China's relations with the outside world, Christianity over the centuries was free to grow or was forced to operate secretly.

The 120 martyrs in this group died between 1648 and 1930. Most of them (eighty-seven) were born in China and were children, parents, catechists or laborers, ranging from nine years of age to seventy-two. This group includes four Chinese diocesan priests.

The thirty-three foreign-born martyrs were mostly priests or women religious, especially from the Order of Preachers, the Paris Foreign Mission Society, the Friars Minor, Jesuits, Salesians and Franciscan Missionaries of Mary.

Augustine Zhao Rong was a Chinese soldier who accompanied Bishop John Gabriel Taurin Dufresse (Paris Foreign Mission Society) to his martyrdom in Beijing. Augustine was baptized and not long after was ordained as a diocesan priest. He was martyred in 1815.

Excerpted from Saint of the Day, Leonard Foley, O.F.M.

Collect Prayer

O God, who in your wonderful providence have strengthened your Church through the confession of the Martyrs Saint Augustine Zhao and companions, grant that your people, faithful to the mission entrusted to it, may enjoy ever greater freedom and witness to the truth before the world. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.


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