The Lord is the king of martyrs: come, let us adore him.
Year: B(I). Psalm week: 2. Liturgical Colour: Red.
Saints Andrew Dũng-Lạc and his Companions
The evangelization of Vietnam began in the 16th century and was formally established with the setting up of two Vicariates Apostolic in 1659. There are now about 6 million Catholics in Vietnam, some 10% of the population.
This growth comes partly from the fact that since the earliest times the seed of the Faith has been watered by the blood of the martyrs of Vietnam – the missionary clergy, the local clergy and the ordinary Christian people. They have all shared the labour of apostolic work and have together faced death to bear witness to the truth of the Gospel. In the course of the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries no less than 53 decrees, signed by the lords and emperors of the country from 1625 to 1886, launched one persecution of Christians after another, each one more savage than the last. Over the whole territory of Vietnam about 130,000 Christians were killed in these persecutions. Over the centuries the names of most of them have been lost, but their memory is still alive in the Catholic community.
Since the beginning of the 20th century 117 of these heroes (those whose sufferings were cruellest and best documented) were beatified, in four groups. They were all canonized together by Pope John Paul II on 19 June 1988.
Each one of them was a soul individually created and loved by God, with a life and gifts uniquely his or her own; but with such a huge crowd one can only classify. By nationality, there were 96 Vietnamese, 11 Spanish and 10 French. By status, there were 8 bishops, 50 priests, and 59 laymen and women. By mode of death, 75 were beheaded, 22 strangled, 6 burned alive, 5 torn to pieces while still alive, and 9 died of torture in prison.
A description in French
can be found on the Vatican web site. An interesting and detailed history of the Catholic Church in Vietnam can be found in this blog entry
. It includes an English translation of the Vatican text.
About the author of the Second Reading in today's Office of Readings:
Second Reading: Paul Le-Bao-Tinh (1793-1857)
Phaolô Lê Bảo Tịnh was a Vietnamese priest. He wrote a letter to the seminary of Ke Vinh in 1843 detailing the sufferings of Christian prisoners. He himself was martyred on 6 April 1857. He was canonised in 1984 by Pope John Paul II.
Liturgical colour: red
Red is the colour of fire and of blood. Liturgically, it is used to celebrate the fire of the Holy Spirit (for instance, at Pentecost) and the blood of the martyrs.
|Mid-morning reading (Terce)||Deuteronomy 1:16-17 ©|
At that time I told your judges: You must give your brothers a fair hearing and see justice done between a man and his brother or the stranger who lives with him. You must be impartial in judgement and give an equal hearing to small and great alike. Do not be afraid of any man, for the judgement is God’s.
|Noon reading (Sext)||Isaiah 55:8-9 ©|
My thoughts are not your thoughts,
my ways not your ways – it is the Lord who speaks.
Yes, the heavens are as high above earth
as my ways are above your ways,
my thoughts above your thoughts.
|Afternoon reading (None)||1 Samuel 16:7 ©|
God does not see as man sees; man looks at appearances but the Lord looks at the heart.