Remembering The Korean Martyrs; Meeting Our Korean Mission
Feast of Saints Andrew Kim Taegon, Paul Chong Hasang, and Companions
On the 20th of September, we celebrate the Feast of Saints Andrew Kim Taegon, Paul Chong Hasang, and Companions; known as the Korean Martyrs.
“From the thirteen-year-old Peter Yu to the seventy-two-year-old Mark Chong, men and women, clergy and laity, rich and poor, ordinary people and nobles, many of them descendants of earlier unsung martyrs - they all gladly died for the sake of Christ.” These words, spoken by St. John Paull II at their canonization in Seol, are most important to our Pallottine Family. For it is by the sacrifice of the martyrs that permitted our Polish Pallottine Fathers to embark on our mission in the East almost 20 years ago.
Over the span of 100 years, over 10,000 people were murdered; and of these persecutions, three years in particular- 1839, 1866, and 1867- are used to mark them.
St. Andrew was Korea’s first priest, as our faith’s transmission was first done by the lay Church. While Christianity crossed Korea’s shores in 1592 after the Japanese invasion, it’s growth was near impossibleif not for God’s grace. Communication to the outside world was blocked for Korea, and if there was no way in, there was certainly no way to discover what was out.
However, in 1777 a priest secretly entered, and discovered 4,000 Catholics without a priest, and without the capability to receive the sacraments. Indeed, they were advancing as one with God Himself as their director, He who enlightens pure souls in an instant to reveal the mysteries of our faith.
St. Andrew’s role, then, was surely of heavenly heights! One of his assignments was to bring in new missionaries, diverting them to another route so as to divert from border control. As fate would have it, he was caught, tortured, and beheaded; a martyr’s death just like his father’s in 1839, and the lay missionary Paul Chong Hasang.
“The Korean Martyrs,” as St. John Paul II said, “have borne witness to the crucified and risen Christ. Through the sacrifice of their own lives, they have become like Christ in a very special way. The words of Saint Paul the Apostle could truly have been spoken by them: We are "always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies . . . We are always being given up to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus may be manifested in our mortal flesh".
Thus, as we remember their holy bloodshed, it’s also imperative we meet our Pallottine Fathers on mission in this Eastern land. It was May 1, 1990, that the first two missionaries- Fr.’s Zbigniew Wasinski & Jerzy Ciesielski SAC from Poland’s Annunciation of the Lord Province- arrived, followed by Fr.’s Paweł Zawadzki, Fr. Jarek Kamienski, Br. Andrzej Baranowski, and others.
Almost 30 years later, Pallotti’s Spirit is not only infused throughout the local Korean community, but also throughout the country’s Polish population. At the Chapel in Bundang, they hold a once-monthly Mass in the Polish language.
So today, as we recall Korea’s precious soil of the past, let us also hold firm in prayers for it’s fertile ground of faith for the future.
See Our Mission’s Photos
Photos: Fr. Jarek Kamienski, SAC