|El Greco – Apostle St Andrew|
Celebrated November 24
St. Andrew Dung-Lac, Priest and Martyr, and His Companions, Martyrs
Today we commemorate 117 saints who were martyred in the territory we now know as Vietnam. Christianity was first established in that land during the early years of the seventeenth century, but the succeeding years were far from peaceful for Catholics.
Between 1625 and 1886, about 260 years, 53 different decrees of persecution were promulgated and about 130,000 Catholics were martyred for their faith.
Of the 117 canonized in 1988 by Pope John Paul II, 6 died between the years 1745 and 1799, and the other 111 between 1835 and 1862.
The manner of their deaths varied; 74 were beheaded, others were crucified, strangled, burned alive, quartered, or died in prison because of torture.
Of the 117, 96 were Vietnamese, 11 were Spaniards, and 10 French. In the group, there were 8 bishops, 50 priests, 1 seminarian, 16 catechists, and 42 lay people, one of whom was a woman.
St. Andrew Dung-Lac, who heads the list of these martyrs, was born in 1795 in Bac Ninh, in the north of Vietnam (then known as Tonkin). His parents were so poor that they sold him to a catechist, who took the child to the Catholic mission.
There the child was baptised, given the name Andrew, and reared. In time, he became a catechist, then studied theology, and eventually was ordained (1823). His priestly years coincided with the years of brutal persecution under the Tonkinese ruler Minh Mang (1820–41).
While serving as a pastor in a small village, Andrew was arrested, but his parishioners secured his release after paying a ransom to city officials.
Andrew then changed his name from Dung to Lac and went to another part of Tonkin to continue ministering to Catholics. There he was again arrested (November 10, 1839). His release was once more secured by paying a ransom.
His freedom was short-lived, however, for soon afterward, as he was getting off a river boat, a man offered his hand to help him get ashore. The man, a government official, recognised the priest and called out: “Look! We have caught a master of religion!”
Andrew was immediately arrested (November 16, 1839) and taken to a prison in Hanoi. Because he refused to deny his faith by stepping on a crucifix, he was beheaded on December 21, 1839. The memorial of these 117 Vietnamese martyrs is celebrated on November 24, because several of them were martyred together on that day.
A description in French or Spanish can be found on the Vatican web site. An interesting and detailed history of the Catholic Church in Vietnam can be found in this blog entry. It includes an English translation of the Vatican text.
Celebrated November 23
Catholics. He was arrested once in October 1926, and then in November 1927 he was falsely accused of an assassination attempt on the ex-president and executed without trial.
Detailed photographs of his execution were widely published in Mexican newspapers to intimidate
Mexican Catholics, but they were treated as holy pictures by the faithful and had the opposite effect.
Miguel Pro was beatified on September 25, 1988 by Pope John Paul II as a Catholic martyr, killed in odium fidei (in hatred of the faith).
Celebrated NOVEMBER 22.
ON the evening of her wedding-day, with the music of the marriage-hymn ringing in her ears, Cecilia, a rich, beautiful and noble Roman maiden, renewed the vow by which she had consecrated her virginity to God.
“Pure be my heart and undefiled my flesh; for I have a spouse you know not of—an angel of my Lord.” The heart of her young husband Valerian was moved by her words; he received baptism, and within a few days he and his brother Tiburtius, who had been brought by him to a knowledge of the faith, sealed their confession with their blood. Cecilia only remained.
“Do you not know,” was her answer to the threats of the prefect, “that I am the bride of my Lord Jesus Christ?” The death appointed for her was suffocation, and she remained a day and a night in a hot-air bath, heated seven times its wont. But “the flames had no power over her body, neither was a hair of her head singed.”
The lictor sent to dispatch her struck with trembling hand the three blows which the law allowed, and left her still alive. For two days and nights Cecilia lay with her head half severed on the pavement of her bath, fully sensible, and joyfully awaiting her crown; on the third the agony was over, and A.D. 177, the virgin Saint gave back her pure spirit to Christ.
Cecilia was buried at the Catacombs of St. Callistus, and then transferred to the Church of Santa Cecilia in Trastevere. In 1599, her body was found still incorrupt, seeming to be asleep.
The church of Santa Cecilia in Trastevere is reputedly built on the site of the house in which she lived.
The original church was constructed in the fourth century; during the ninth century,
Pope Paschal I had remains which were supposedly hers buried there. In 1599, while leading a renovation of the church, Cardinal Paolo Emilio Sfondrati had the remains, which he reported to be incorrupt, excavated and reburied.
Celebrated November 18
St. Rose Philippine Duchesne was a courageous pioneer and persevering missionary. She was born in Grenoble, France, on August 29, 1769, and despite her father’s opposition, she entered (1788) the Visitation Convent of Sainte-Marie-d’en-Haut.
Later, because of the French Revolution, the community was dispersed (1792) and, thus, she returned home and spent her time teaching neglected children and caring for the sick.
When peace returned, she purchased the convent building from the government and tried to bring the Visitation Sisters together again, but this proved impossible. Having heard of a new congregation, the Sisters of the Sacred Heart, she offered herself and the building to the founder, St. Madeleine Sophie Barat.
Then, in 1818, her dream of missionary work in the New World came true. Bishop Louis Du Bourg of the Louisiana Territory requested sisters to teach Indian and French children in his diocese. Mother Rose Philippine asked to go; she and four companions landed in New Orleans in May 1818.
They made their way to St. Louis, and that September she opened, at St. Charles, near St. Louis, the first free school for girls west of the Mississippi. Life on the frontier was far from easy; the sisters lived and taught in unheated log cabins. In succeeding years, more schools were opened; parish schools, schools for Indian girls, and schools for boarding students.
In 1840, when Mother Rose Philippine was in her seventies, she was sent to help start a school among the Potawatomi Indians in Sugar Creek, Kansas. She did not teach—she was never able to learn their language—but she cared for their sick. The Indians called her “Woman-Who-Prays-Always.” While others taught, she prayed. Legend has it that Native American children sneaked behind her as she knelt and sprinkled bits of paper on her habit, and came back hours later to find them undisturbed. In 1842, she was recalled to St. Charles, and she died there on November 18, 1852. She was canonised by Pope John Paul II in 1988.
Divine grace channelled her iron will and determination into humility and selflessness, and to a desire not to be made superior. Still, even saints can get involved in silly situations. In an argument with her over a minor change in the sanctuary, a priest threatened to remove the tabernacle. She patiently let herself be criticised by younger nuns for not being progressive enough. For 31 years, she hewed to the line of a dauntless love and an unshakeable observance of her religious vows.
|Pope saint Leo the Great, Artist: Francisco Herrera the Younger, Date: 17th century|
Celebrated 10th November
|Francesco Solimena – The Meeting of Pope Leo and Attila|
|Saint Charles Borromeo giving out alms to the poor|