During his papacy, Pope John Paul II canonized a group of 117 martyrs who died for the Roman Catholic Faith in Vietnam during the nineteenth century. The group was made up of ninety-six Vietnamese, eleven Spaniards, and ten French. Eight of the group were bishops, fifty were priests, and fifty-nine were lay Catholics.
Today’s Feast and the witness of the martyrs give testament to the sufferings inflicted on the Vietnamese Church, which are among the most terrible in the long history of Christian martyrdom.
Some background: Christian missionaries first took the Catholic faith to Vietnam during the sixteenth century. During the seventeenth, eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, Christians suffered for their beliefs. Many were martyred, especially during the reign of Emperor Minh-Mang (1820-1840). Andrew Dung-Lac was himself a diocesan priest. He worked in the missions with the priests of the Foreign Mission Society of Paris. He was imprisoned and repeatedly tortured in the persecutions of Minh-Meng.
St. Andrew Dung-Lac and the Vietnamese Martyrs, who embraced suffering rather than renounce your faith—pray for us!