Blessed Memorial of St Andrew Dung-Lac and the Martyrs of Vietnam – November 24
Christianity came to Vietnam through the Portuguese. Jesuits opened the first permanent mission at Da Nang in 1615. They ministered to Japanese Catholics who had been driven from Japan. The king of one of the kingdoms banned all foreign missionaries and tried to make all Vietnamese deny their faith by trampling on a crucifix. Like the priest-holes in Ireland during English persecution, many hiding places were offered in homes of the faithful. Severe persecutions were again launched three times in the 19th century. During the six decades after 1820, between 100,000 and 300,000 Catholics were killed or subjected to great hardship. Foreign missionaries martyred in the first wave included priests of the Paris Mission Society and Spanish Dominican priests and tertiaries. By 1954 there were over a million Catholics—about seven percent of the population—in the north. Buddhists represented about 60 percent. Persistent persecution forced some 670,000 Catholics to abandon lands, homes and possessions and flee to the south. In 1964, there were still 833,000 Catholics in the north, but many were in prison. In the south, Catholics were enjoying the first decade of religious freedom in centuries, their numbers swelled by refugees. During the Vietnamese war, Catholics again suffered in the north, and again moved to the south in great numbers. Now the whole country is under Communist rule.
From 1625 to 1886 approximately 130,000 Catholic men, women, and children died during the persecutions.in Tonkin, Cochinchina and Annam in modern-day Vietnam. The tortures these individuals underwent were among the worst in the history of Christian martyrdom. The means included cutting off limbs joint by joint, ripping living bodies with red hot tongs, and use of drugs to enslave the minds of the victims. Christians at the time were branded on the face with the words ta dao (false religion) and families and villages which subscribed to Christianity were obliterated.
Among the 117 were 96 Vietnamese and 21 foreign missionaries. Of the Vietnamese group were 37 priests and 59 lay people, among whom were catechists and tertiaries. One of them was a woman, mother of six. Of the missionaries was 11 Spaniards; 6 bishops and 5 priests, all Dominicans, and 10 were French; 2 bishops and 8 priests from Société des Missions Etrangères in Paris. 76 were beheaded, 21 suffocated, 6 burnt alive, 5 mutilated and 9 died in prison as a result of torture.
The 117 martyrs were beatified in four groups, the first of them on 27 May 1900 (Pope Leo XIII), the second (all Dominicans) on 20 May 1906, a third on 2 May 1909 (both by Pope Pius X) and the last (including two Spanish bishops) on 29 April 1951 (Pope Pius XII). They were canonized in Rome on 19 June 1988 by Pope John Paul II.
Saint of the Day – November 24 – St Andrew Dung-Lac & Companions – Martyrs of Vietnam (1795-1839) – Patrons of Vietnam
St Andrew Dung-lac was a Vietnamese Roman Catholic priest. He was executed by beheading in the reign of Minh Mạng. He was born Trần An Dũng in 1795, taking the name Andrew at his baptism (Anrê Dũng) and was ordained a priest on 15 March 1823. During persecution, Andrew Dũng changed his name to Lạc to avoid capture, and thus he is memorialised as Andrew Dũng-Lạc. He is one of 117 people martyred in Vietnam during the 18th Century, St. Andrew Dung-Lac was a priest and missionary to his countrymen. Of those martyred were 96 native Vietnamese, 11 Spanish missionaries from the Order of Preachers, and 10 French missionaries from the Paris Foreign Mission Society. Among these saints were 8 bishops, 50 priests, and 59 laypeople of every age and status.
Martyrdom of Sts. Paul Mi, Pierre Duong, and Pierre Truat at Son-Tay in 1838
Dominican Martyrs of Vietnam
S. Ignacio Clemente Delgado, O.P.
Missionary to Vietnam for nearly 50 years. Co-adjutor vicar-apostolic at East Tonkin, Vietnam and titular bishop of Metellopolis on 11 February 1794. During government oppression of Christianity, he was locked in a cage, put on public display for ridicule and abuse, and left to die. One of the Tonkinese Martyrs.
Bl. Andre Phú Yên, Proto-martyr of Vietnam
Martyrdom of St. Augustine Schoeffler in Son Tay, Vietnam, May 1, 1851