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Today is the feast of Saints Andrew Kim Tae-gŏn, Priest, and Paul Chŏng Ha-sang, and Companions. They are a group of martyrs from Korea and include the first Korean priest (Andrew Kim), a lay apostle (Paul), bishops, priests and many other lay people.
What is unique is that these martyrs were the fruit of lay evangelization. When a Chinese priest entered the country shortly after Christianity was introduced, there were 4,000 Catholics and no one had ever seen a priest.
Saint John Paul II spoke about this unique aspect of Korea’s faith at the canonization of these martyrs: “The Korean Church is unique because it was founded entirely by lay people. This fledgling Church, so young and yet so strong in faith, withstood wave after wave of fierce persecution. Thus, in less than a century, it could boast of 10,000 martyrs.”
This example of the Korean church reminds us of the mission of all Christians to evangelize, as Pope Francis reminds us this month with his evangelization intention: That by participating in the Sacraments and meditating on Scripture, Christians may become more aware of their mission to evangelize.
These martyrs teach us that if we want the Christian faith to be spread, it does not matter if we are a priest, bishop or layperson; we are all given the task of evangelization.
Let us invoke the intercession of the holy martyrs of Korea, asking them to inflame our hearts with the courage to bring the Christian faith to all those we meet.
- Philip Kosloski
Writer and Content Manager
The Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network (USA)