THE MISSIONS OF ASIA
A bimonthly missionary letter to foster prayers
- History of the Asian Missions - Korea - Part 2
II - To Die for Korea
III - The Revival of Tradition in Korea
For the Missions of Asia:
One Million Hail Marys Daily
- History of the Asian Missions Korea
- Part 2
the persecution of 1791, King Chong-jo, who was lenient to the
Catholics, passed away, and Queen Chong-sun representing her 11-year
old great grandson King Sun-jo, took power in 1800. She
hated the Catholics, and started a new persecution. The
queen considered the Catholic religion a downright heresy harmful
to the customs and the tradition of the country.
1801, the queen decided to eradicate all Catholics and imprisoned
Catholics of all classes. She gave an order to punish the
relatives of the Catholics. Almost 300 Catholics were killed
during this persecution, including Father Valloso (Chu), who was
martyred in Saenamt’o (by the Han River) on May 30, 1801.
After this persecution all Catholics of the nobility were either
killed or sent to exile. Those, who survived the persecution,
escaped deep into the mountains, and many of them starved to death.
In this mountainous areas new Catholic communities were formed.
The members shared what they had with one another, and practiced
their faith without a priest almost thirty years. Even in
these difficult times, the Catholics continued to write to the
bishop of Peking begging for priests.
to a letter the Korean Catholics sent to Pope Pius VII, there
were more than ten thousand Catholics. But during the persecution
of 1815 hundreds of Catholics in rural Catholic communities were
arrested, and more than 30 of them were killed.
In 1817, two priests attempted to enter the country but with no
success. The Holy See tried to send missionaries to Korea,
but none could enter because of a new persecution in 1827, during
which hundreds of Catholics were arrested and many were killed.
the severe persecutions, some people like Chong Ha-sang Paul visited
Peking more than ten times to appeal for priests. As a result
of these efforts, the Vicariate Apostolic of Korea was formally
established as of September 9, 1831, and the Paris Foreign Mission
Society (M.E.P.) was asked to be in charge of spreading the faith
in Korea. The first Vicar Apostolic of Korea was Bishop
Barthélemy Bruguière. He unsuccessfully tried
to enter Korea, and died in Mongolia on October 20, 1835.
In 1836, Bishop Laurent Marie Joseph Imbert was named the second
Vicar Apostolic of Korea. Bishop Imbert successfully crossed
the Yalu River to enter this country on December 31, 1837, six
years after the establishment of the Vicariate Apostolic of Korea
in 1831. By 1838, Korea had a bishop, two priests and more
than nine thousand Catholics.
composed by St. Chang Ha-sang Paul
This was written in apologetical style defending the Catholic
It was sent to the Prime Minister of the King in 1839.
1839, however, those who didn’t like the Catholics came to power
again. The fact that the French missionaries were in the
country became known to the government, and a new persecution
started throughout the country. Due to the severe persecution,
the Catholic Church lost the bishop, the priests and many leading
lay Catholics. The survivors again were forced to escape
to the mountains. The three French missionaries were beheaded
in Saenamt’o on September 21, 1839, after severe tortures.
first Korean priest, Kim Tae-gon Andrew,
martyred in 1846
in 1843, Bishop Ferréol was appointed the third Vicar Apostolic
of Korea, and enter Korea by sea with Father Marie Nicolas Antoine
Daveluy and Father Andrew Kim Tae-gon, the first Korean priest,
on October 12, 1845. Father Kim Tae-gon Andrew was beheaded
a year later in Saenamt’o on September 16, 1846. Father
Ch’oe Yang-ob Thomas, the second Korean priest, entered Korea
at the end of December, 1849, after many attempts.
where Rev. Kim Tae-gon Andrew was martyred in 1846
was a small persecution in 1860. According to the report
of Bishop Berneux just before the major persecution of 1866, the
number of paschal confessions was 14,433; annual confessions:
3,493; adult baptisms: 970; pagan infant baptisms: 11,106.
The Catholics numbered 23,000.
"Lives of the 103 Martyrs Saints of Korea", Seoul, 1984,
Our Father in XIXth century Korean characters [not yet
- To Die for Korea
St. Jacques Chastan, M.E.P.
(Martyred Sept. 21, 1839)
of two letters.
" (...) In spite of the danger of death, the number of Christians
multiplies daily. The harvest has not been less abundant
this year than last year. I had about 1100 baptisms, my
confrere 1400. I have received many consolation in this
second pastoral visit: it has been for me and those poor spiritual
children a great joy to meet once more. I found them better
instructed in religion, more fervent in the service of the Lord,
having kept quite faithfully the grace of the sacraments...
I have to travel about 1500 km, mostly through places covered
with snow, with ice, over the mountains. All this is little
when we think of what Our Lord endured for our souls. How
sweet it is to be able to suffer something in gratitude to His
(To his parents, October 3, 1838)
On August 23, 1839, the 2 French Missionaries received this note
from their now-captured bishop, (Saint) Mgr. Imbert: "Bonus pastor
ponit animam suam pro ovibus suis. Si nondum estis profecti
per cymbam, venite cum misso Son Kie Tsong -- The good shepherd
gives his life for his sheep. If you haven’t yet left by
boat, come with the envoy Son Kie Tsong."
bishop who, at first, was resolved to protect his two missionaries,
finally gave in. Plunged in the frightening heart of Korean
prisons, tortured, daily exposed to the sight the tortures endured
by his three main catechists, this man so hard on himself had
not been able to resist the spectacle of the tortures of his flock.
At the end, this very rigorous apostolic Vicar of Korea took a
decision which is exceptional in the history of the Church: to
ask his 2 priests (all his clergy) to hand themselves over...
Soon after receiving this note, St Jacques wrote his last letter
to his parents:
"My dearest parents, may the peace of Our dear Lord be with you...
the last 15 years, this dear mission enjoyed a real tranquility
rarely disturbed. The Christians who had been dispersed
in the last persecution had been able to get together, since the
arrival of the missionaries, there were jubilant, and the presence
of His Excellency had fulfilled our desires. This
joy did not remain long undisturbed since about 100 Christians
were caught, their fortune taken, their bodies beaten, and worse,
their souls having become the enemies of God by apostasy.
year the devil has doubled his rage. The persecution much
more cruel has in fact become much more glorious by the constancy
of martyrs of all age, of both sexes, of all conditions.
In the space of two months, 25 people got beheaded after undergoing
long and awful torments. 5 others actually died in these
torments of as a result of them. More than 150 persons,
now in prison, await the same fate. A single word of apostasy
could free them from these horrible prisons where they suffer
a long martyrdom, but the grace of the Lord strengthens them so
well that they accept with joy all these torments. How happy
will they be if they persevere until the end.
For 4 months we have hidden ourselves thanks to some Christians,
and we would have done it longer if a higher order had not obliged
us to reveal ourselves. His Excellency, our bishop, judges
that in our present circumstances, it is the duty of a good shepherd
to give his life to save his sheep; he has himself given the example
by delivering himself... A single victim will not suffice
to the rage of the persecutors, they will have three. The
order to hide has kept us in hiding, the order to manifest ourselves
is as welcome as the first. In all things, the will of God,
the fulfilment of his good pleasure. I have always loved
you, always cherished you while on earth, be assured that I will
never forget you if God grants me to enter Heaven through the
door of martyrdom...
dearest father, mother, brothers and sisters, relatives and friends,
as it is most probably the last time I have the honour to write
you, deign accept my last farewell... I have to go, I can’t
write any longer...
waiting to see each other again in Heaven where I am going to
prepare for you a place, love the Lord your God with all your
heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, love also the
dear neighbor as yourselves and you will infallibly receive the
happiness to find yourselves at our "rendezvous" in the Sacred
Heart of Jesus and Mary.
I have the honour to be in the tenderest bonds and in the most
affectuous charity that a son can have for his father, mother,
brothers, sisters, your most humble and devoted son.
August 31, 1839.
"Mourir pour la Corée", Paris, 1996, pp. 230-1,
III - The Revival of Tradition
in 1784, the revival of tradition in the 1980s in Korea began
with a prayer group of lay people, it was led by Professor Kim.
Refusing with their "sensus fidei" (instinct of faith) communion
in the hand, they welcomed with joy the news brought by a new
member to the group Mr. Stephen Kim, just arrived from the USA,
that there existed in the USA a wide traditional movement.
Soon after another member, Dr. Maria Kim had to go to the US for
professional reasons and pursuing their research for this traditional
group, got in touch with Fr. Williamson asking him a priest for
Patrice Laroche, a pioneer in many SSPX new missions, was the
first to visit these faithful in Korea in the summer of 1988.
But it wasn’t long for the Superior General of the SSPX, Rev.
Fr. F. Schmidberger to visit them, himself. Fr. P. Laroche came
afterwards a few more times from Europe until the Australian District
of SSPX took Korea under its wings...
in July 1993, the Philippine Autonomous House with the assignment
of newly ordained Japanese priest Fr. Thomas Marie Onoda, guaranteed
regular monthly masses, and other Catholic activities.
faithful of the Seoul Mass Center
the feast of Christ the King,
Fr. Onoda brings Our Eucharistic Lord in the street of Seoul.
For the occasion, the faithful put on their traditional dresses...
do the children.