FEAST OF SAINT ANDREW DUNG-LAC AND COMPANIONS – 24 NOVEMBER
The persecution of the Church in Vietnam was outstanding for its ferocity and brutality. Victims had their skin ripped off, were carefully sliced in pieces, were confined in cages hung in public squares like big cats, were compelled to trample on crucifixes, were separated from spouses and family, and often had the words “false religion” marked on their faces.
Andrew Dung-Lac was born in Vietnam in 1795. He grew up Catholic and became a priest at a time when the Church was welcome in his country. Father Andrew was a parish priest and a prayerful example for his people. Many people came to believe in Jesus and were baptized because of Andrew’s preaching and service to others.
But in the 19th century, persecution of Christians began again. Between 100,000 and 300,000 Catholics were killed, and the Jesuits were driven out of the kingdom. Christianity was kept alive by faithful Catholics who could not live their beliefs openly; they hid the brave missionaries who did manage to sneak into Vietnam. People suspected of being Catholic were forced to deny their faith by trampling on a crucifix. If they did not obey, they were arrested and often put to death.
Father Andrew was arrested. The people of his parish raised money to free him. He moved to another area of Vietnam and continued his ministry. He was soon arrested again, along with another priest, Father Peter Thi. They were treated brutally by their guards and were executed in 1839.
Between 1820 and 1862, Father Andrew and 116 Catholics died as martyrs for our faith. Among them were a bishop, priests, men, women, and children who loved Jesus so much that they refused to deny their faith in him.
We honor Andrew and the martyrs of Vietnam as saints. We can show our respect for them by praying for all people who are persecuted for their belief in Jesus.
Vietnam’s communist government sent not a single representative to the canonisation Mass for today’s martyrs in 1988, but thousands of Vietnamese faithful attended nonetheless, mostly from Vietnamese diaspora communities. Today Vietnam has over two thousand parishes and almost three thousand priests.
Its population is about eight percent Catholic. The faith survived, even thrived, due to the exemplary witness of so many staunch disciples who did not bend to the powerful gusts that blew against them. Today’s victims bowed their heads to receive only two things—the waters of Baptism and the sword.
O God, source and origin of all fatherhood,
who kept the Martyrs Saint Andrew Dung-Lac and his companions faithful to the Cross of your Son, even to the shedding of their blood, grant, through their intercession, that, spreading your love among our brothers and sisters, we may be your children both in name and in truth.
Martyrs of Vietnam, by your constancy and courage, help all Christians who struggle and doubt in any way to persevere in their vocations, to win the small battles over self every day, so that they can enjoy life with God and His saints one day in heaven. Amen
(Excerpts from mycatholiclife)