September 19, 2016

Memorial of St. Andrew Kim Taegon and St. Paul Chong Hasang and Companions, Martyrs

St. Andrew Kim Taegon, St. Paul Chong Hasang and companions
September 20th, the Church celebrates the memorial of Saint Andrew Kim Taegon and Saint Paul Chong Hasang and companions, courageous Korean martyrs from the 18th and 19th centuries. Andrew Kim Taegon (1821–1846) was the first native born Korean Catholic priest. As converts, both Kim's parents were harshly persecuted. His father, Blessed Ignatius Kim, was martyred in 1839, for practicing the Catholic faith.

At 15, Taegon was chosen by a visiting priest to be a seminarian. He journeyed thirteen hundred miles to the seminary in Macao, China where he studied theology. Six years later, Taegon left Macao to serve as an interpreter for a French admiral, after which he was ordained a deacon in 1844. The following year, he was ordained a priest.

Taegon returned to Korea where he successfully catechized his home town and the surrounding villages until being summoned to Seoul. There he assisted French missionaries from China ministering to the Korean faithful. For these efforts, Taegon was arrested, convicted of treason and imprisoned. The court sentenced him to death by beheading. He was beatified by Pius XI in 1925, and canonized by St. John Paul II on May 6, 1984. He is the patron of Korean clergy.

Saint Paul Chong Hasang (1794–1839) was a married lay Korean apostle, largely responsible for bringing Catholicism to Korea. His position as a servant to a government interpreter enabled him to travel to Beijing frequently. In the forbidden city, he convinced Beijing's bishop to send priests to evangelize Korea, and (through the bishop) entreated Pope Gregory XVI to establish a diocese.

Bishop Laurent-Marie-Joseph Imbert and two priests were sent in response. The bishop deemed Hasang intelligent, fervent, and virtuous. Hasang studied Latin and theology. On the verge of his ordination, a wave of persecution broke out against Christians. Hasang was captured and ordered to renounce his beliefs. He replied, "I have told you that I am a Christian, and will be one until my death."

Hasang was imprisoned and tortured mercilessly throughout which he remained tranquil. He received the crown of martyrdom by being being bound to a cross. St. Paul Chong Hasang was canonized by St. John Paul II on May 6, 1984 along with 103 other Korean blesseds. O God, who have been pleased to increase your adopted children in all the world, and who made the blood of the Martyrs Saint Andrew Kim Taegon and his companions a most fruitful seed of Christians, grant that we may be defended by their help and profit always from their example.

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