Saturday, October 16, 2021

(Martyrs of China) – Saint Augustine Zhao Rong and Companions – Feast Day – July 9

Saint Augustine Zhao Rong and Companions are also known as the Martyr Saints of China or Martyrs of China. They are a group of 120 saints of the Catholic Church composed of 87 Chinese Catholics and 33 Western missionaries who evangelized in China from 1648 to 1930 and died as martyrs because of their faith.

These martyrs include lay men and women, catechists, seminarians, priests, bishops, and the religious.

Many of these saints died during the Boxer Rebellion when anti foreigners peasant rebels murdered around 30,000 Chinese Christians together with the missionaries and other foreigners.

Saint Augustine Zhao Rong was initially a soldier. In his role as a soldier, he was assigned to escort Monsignor Dufresse, a French priest, from Chengdu to Beijing. The priest had a very great impression on Augustine until he decided to convert to Christianity. He was baptized, and later on, joined the seminary and became Father Augustine. He did not preach for long because he was arrested, jailed, tortured, and left to die in prison in 1815, for failing to apostasize.

Martyrs of China History
Martyrs of China
Duration 1648 to 1930
Location China
Feast Day July 9
Beatification By Pope Pius XII on November 24 1946
Canonization By Pope John Paul II on October 1 2000

Saint Augustine Zhao Rong and Companions, The Martyr Saints of China History

The first martyr of China (protomartyr) was Francisco FernΓ‘ndez de Capillas, a Dominican priest aged 40 who on January 15 1648 was imprisoned, tortured, and beheaded while reciting the Sorrowful Mysteries of the Rosary together with other prisoners.

Catholicism penetrated well in the hearts of the Chinese people and many converted to Christianity. This was because the missionaries gelled well with the Chinese culture and did not attempt to look down upon the locals. They also did not entangle themselves with the politics of the day or the abrasive trade with other traders.

This state of widespread conversion to Christianity did not go down well with the government officials who banned Christianity and other doctrines that were not in line with the Chinese folk religion.

Despite the ban, Christianity expanded rapidly in China beyond the government’s control. This is when state persecution took a more dangerous turn. Many Chinese Christians fled from the persecutions in mainland China to the port cities or to other neighbouring countries.

Five Spanish Dominican missionaries of the Order of Friars Preachers (O.P.) were killed in 1747 and 1748. They were;

  1. Peter Sanz, O.P., bishop killed on May 26 1747, in Fuzhou
  2. Francis Serrano, vicar apostolic and bishop-elect
  3. Francis Diaz, priest killed on October 28 1748
  4. John Alcober, priest killed on October 28 1748
  5. Joachim Royo, priest killed on October 28 1748

Chinese Martyrs in the 19th Century

In the 19th century the following underwent martyrdom:

πŸ‘‰ Peter Wu, (Chinese lay catechist). He refused to apostatize and was strangled on November 7 1814.

πŸ‘‰ Joseph Zhang Dapeng, (Chinese lay catechist). He was imprisoned and strangled to death on March 12 1815.

πŸ‘‰ Gabriel-Taurin Dufresse, (Paris Foreign Missions Society – M.E.P. Bishop). Arrested on May 18 1815 and executed on September 14 1815.

πŸ‘‰ Augustine Zhao Rong, (Chinese diocesan priest). Arrested, tortured and died in prison in 1815.

πŸ‘‰ John da Triora, (Priest of The Order of Friars Minor (OFM)). He was put in prison in 1815, and died of strangulation on February 7 1816.

πŸ‘‰ Joseph Yuan,(Chinese diocesan priest). He was arrested and died of strangulation on June 24 1817.

πŸ‘‰ Paul Liu Hanzuo, (Chinese diocesan priest). Murdered in 1819.

πŸ‘‰ Francis Regis Clet of the Vincentians. He was betrayed by a Christian, arrested, imprisoned, and died of strangulation on February 17, 1820.

πŸ‘‰ Thaddeus Liu, (Chinese diocesan priest). He refused to apostatize. He was imprisoned and died of strangulation on November 30, 1823.

πŸ‘‰ Peter Liu, (Chinese lay catechist). He was arrested and sent to exile and upon returning to his homeland he was rearrested and died of strangulation on May 17 1834.

πŸ‘‰ Joachim Ho, (Chinese lay catechist). He was sent into exile and upon returning to his homeland he was rearrested and again refused to apostatize. He died of strangulation on July 9 1839.

πŸ‘‰ John Gabriel Perboyre, ( Congregation of the Mission – C.M.). He was arrested during a revival of anti-Christian persecution. He died of strangulation in 1840.

πŸ‘‰ Augustus Chapdelaine, (Priest of the Paris Foreign Missions Society – M.E.P.). He was arrested in 1856, tortured, condemned to death, and died in prison in February 1856.

πŸ‘‰ Lawrence Bai Xiaoman, (Chinese layman). He took refuge in a place that was given to the missionary, Blessed Chapdelaine. They were arrested together and refused to apostacize. He was beheaded on February 25 1856.

πŸ‘‰ Agnes Cao Guiying, (Widow, born into an old Christian family). She gave religious instructions to young girls who had been converted by Blessed Chapdelaine. She was arrested, condemned to death and executed in prison on March 1 1856.

Martyrs of Maokou

πŸ‘‰ Jerome Lu Tingmei, (Catechist). Asked to renounce his Christian faith but refused. Was beheaded on January 28 1858 in Maokou.

πŸ‘‰ Laurence Wang Bing, (Catechist). Asked to renounce his Christian faith but refused. Was beheaded on January 28 1858 in Maokou.

πŸ‘‰ Agatha Lin, (Catechist). Asked to renounce his Christian faith but refused. Was beheaded on January 28 1858 in Maokou.

Martyrs of Guizhou

πŸ‘‰ Joseph Zhang Wenlan, (Seminarian). Martyred on July 29 1861 in Qingyanzhen (Guizhou).

πŸ‘‰ Paul Chen Changpin, (Seminarian). Martyred on July 29 1861 in Guizhou.

πŸ‘‰ John Baptist Luo Tingyin, (Layman, farmer). Martyred on July 29 1861 in Guizhou.

πŸ‘‰ Martha Wang Luo Mande]], (Laywoman, widow who worked as a cook in the seminary). Martyred on July 29 1861 in Guizhou.

πŸ‘‰ Jean-Pierre NΓ©el, (Priest of the Paris Foreign Missions Society). Martyred on February 18 1862 in Guizhou.

πŸ‘‰ Martin Wu Xuesheng, (Lay catechist). Martyred on February 18 1862 in Guizhou.

πŸ‘‰ John Zhang Tianshen, (Lay catechist). Martyred on February 18 1862 in Guizhou.

πŸ‘‰ John Chen Xianheng, (Lay catechist). Martyred on February 19 1862 in Guizhou.

πŸ‘‰ Lucy Yi Zhenmei, (Lay catechist). Martyred on February 19 1862 in Guizhou.

Tension Between Missionaries and Chinese Locals

In June 1840, the Chinese government was forced to allow European Christian missions into the country, especially to the treaty ports opened to Europeans, and allowing their citizens to follow the Christian faith and particularly the Catholic faith.

Unfortunately, there arose the Taiping Rebellion which ruined the image of Christianity in China. A rebel leader named Hong Xiuquan, coined himself as a brother of Jesus who had a special mission from God to fight evil. He destroyed many shrines belonging to the Buddhists and Taoists, also destroyed the temples belonging to the local divinities, and tactfully opposed Chinese folk religion. Therefore, he took control of a large territory in a rebellion that killed almost 20-30 million people.

By this time the Chinese had begun to associate the evangelization by the missionary with European imperialism. This is when the violence against missionaries began from among the residents.

In 1856, The Second Opium War (or the Anglo-French expedition to China, the Second China War, the Arrow War, or the Second Anglo-Chinese War) was triggered by the death of missionary Augustus Chapdelaine. The French military won the war and China lost. This resulted in Christian missionaries gaining the right to owning land and freedom to move freely throughout China.

Missionaries started building churches and schools in the country but they were met with hostility and bad tension in locations where they built near temples or official buildings.

The missionaries, in order to protect new converts from the cruel and hostile local communities, began to request that the converts should reside in the mission compounds. This brew hatred in the local communities and in one place resulted to a bloody massacre of 60 people in a Catholic orphanage.

The Boxer Rebellion

Christian missions continued to grow in numbers but trouble started brewing when an uprising calling themselves the “Society for Justice and Harmony” or “the Boxers” began to form in the early 20th century.

This Boxer Rebellion was catapulted to great might by the hatred of foreigners who had begun acquire land and property in China especially after the Second Opium War, which was won by the Western Powers.

Even if the missionaries were European nationalities, they were not murdered during this rebellion because of wealth issues but because of their faith, just the same way their predecessors met their death. There was much hatred for Christians and among the members of this rebellion were these Christian haters.

The Boxer Rebellion failed and Christianity continued to flourish but not without hostilities. In 1950, all missions were banned in China by the new communist regime and up to date they are still legally outlawed.

The Boxer Rebellion claimed so many Christian souls of the Chinese as well as missionaries. They are as follows;

Martyrs of Shanxi

  • Gregorio Grassi, (Bishop of Franciscan Friars Minor). Murdered on July 9 1900 during the Taiyuan massacre.
  • Francis Fogolla, Bishop of Franciscan Friars Minor). Murdered on July 9 1900 during the Taiyuan massacre.
  • Elias Facchini, (Priest of Franciscan Friars Minor). Murdered on July 9 1900 during the Taiyuan massacre.
  • ThΓ©odoric Balat, (Priest of Franciscan Friars Minor). Murdered on July 9 1900 during the Taiyuan massacre.
  • Andrew Bauer, (Religious brother of Franciscan Friars Minor). Murdered on July 9 1900 during the Taiyuan massacre.

Martyrs of Southern Hunan

  • Anthony Fantosati, (Bishop of Franciscan Friars Minor). Murdered on July 7 1900 in Southern Hunan.
  • Joseph Mary Gambaro, (Priest of Franciscan Friars Minor). Murdered on July 7, 1900 in Southern Hunan.
  • Cesidio Giacomantonio, (Priest of Franciscan Friars Minor). Murdered on July 4 1900 in Southern Hunan.
  • Alberic Crescitelli, (Priest of the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions of Milan). Murdered on July 21 1900 in Southern Shaanxi.
  • Mary Hermina of Jesus of Franciscan Missionaries of Mary (Before death was called Irma Grivot)
  • Marie de la Paix Giuliani of Franciscan Missionaries of Mary (Before death was called Mary Ann Giuliani)
  • Maria Chiara Nanetti of Franciscan Missionaries of Mary (Before death was called Clelia Nanetti)[5]
  • Marie of Saint Natalie of Franciscan Missionaries of Mary (Before death was called Joan Mary Kerguin)
  • Marie of Saint Just of Franciscan Missionaries of Mary (Before death was called Ann Moreau)
  • Marie-Adolphine of Franciscan Missionaries of Mary (Before death was called Ann Dierk)
  • Mary Amandina of Franciscan Missionaries of Mary (Before death was called Paula Jeuris)

The Jesuits

Leo Mangin, (Priest of The Society of Jesus – Jesuit). Murdered in July 1900.
Paul Denn, (Priest of The Society of Jesus – Jesuit). Murdered in July 1900.
RΓ©my IsorΓ©, (Priest of The Society of Jesus – Jesuit). Murdered in July 1900.
Modeste Andlauer, (Priest of The Society of Jesus – Jesuit). Murdered in July 1900.

Seminarians and Laymen

  • John Zhang Huan (Seminarian)
  • Patrick Dong Bodi (Seminarian)
  • John Wang Rui (Seminarian)
  • Philip Zhang Zhihe (Seminarian)
  • John Zhang Jingguang (Seminarian)
  • Thomas Shen Jihe (Layman and a manservant)
  • Simon Qin Chunfu (Lay catechist)
  • Peter Wu Anbang (Layman)
  • Francis Zhang Rong (Layman and a farmer)
  • Matthew Feng De (Layman and neophyte)
  • Peter Zhang Banniu (Layman and labourer)
  • James Yan Guodong (Lay faithful, farmer)
  • James Zhao Quanxin (Lay faithful, manservant)
  • Peter Wang Erman (Lay faithful, cook)

Martyrs of China Veneration

The martyrs of China are venerated in the Catholic Church

Martyrs of China Beatification

The Martyrs of China were beatified by Pope Pius XII on November 24 1946

Martyrs of China Canonization

The Martyrs of China were canonized by Pope John Paul II on October 1 2000

Martyrs of China Feast Day

We celebrate the feast day of Martyrs of China on July 9 during the feast of Saint Augustine Zhao Rong and Companions, Martyrs as an Optional Memorial

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