September 20, the Church honors and remembers the Korean martyrs, among them Andrew Kim Taegon (1821-1845), a twenty-five year old who was the first Korean-born priest, and Paul Chong Hasang (1794-1839), a vocal advocate for the church in Korea who was killed before he could be ordained. Both Taegon and Hasang were the sons of parents who also died for professing their faith in Jesus. Pope John Paul II canonized these two men along with 103 other Korean martyrs when he traveled to Korea in 1984. The development of the Catholic Church in Korea was marked by several periods of intense persecution that resulted in an estimated 10,000 martyrs and also in a church that was run entirely by laypeople until 1836 when the first official missionaries were allowed into the country and found the faith already being lived.
Questions for Reflection:
- There is a fierce debate in our political arena today about the freedom of religion. How do you think the experience of the Korean martyrs relates to our current issues of religious freedom in America?
- Are there ways in which you have taken for granted our freedom to believe in Christ and worship God as we feel called to do?