The Vietnamese Holy Martyrs church by my house keeps having it’s Vietnamese Madonna and Child statue stolen from a glass case. The case has been shattered and robbed twice. The community keeps raising money and has now purchased a third statue. They refuse to give up or be terrorized.
On June 19, 1988, Pope John Paul II canonized a group of 117 martyrs who were killed 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. Some of the priests were Dominicans, others were diocesan priests who belonged to the Paris Mission Society. One such diocesan priest was St. Theophane Venard.
St. Andrew Dung-Lac, who represents this group of martyrs, was a Vietnamese diocesan priest. He came from a poor, non-Christian family and was taught by a Christian lay catechist. He worked in the missions with the priests of the Foreign Mission Society of Paris. He was imprisoned and repeatedly tortured during the persecutions of Minh-Meng, the emperor of Vietnam between 1820 and 1840 who was known for his persecution of Christianity. Among the many Vietnamese and international martyrs who died alongside St. Andrew Dung-Lac was Saint Peter Thi.
This feast day, and the witnesses of the lives 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 martydom. St. Andrew Dung Lac and companions pray for us.