Canonizations and Beatifications for Sunday, October 1, 2000
THREE WOMEN TO BE CANONIZED SUNDAY
VATICAN, Sep. 28, 00 (CWNews.com)
The canonization of 120 Chinese
martyrs, which will take place on October 1, has generated headlines because
of protests from Beijing. But this Sunday's ceremonies will also see the
canonization of three other saints worthy of public notice.
Blessed Josephine Bakhita, a former slave in Sudan, became a nun in Italy
late in the 19th century. Archbishop Gabriel Zubeir Waco of Khartoum,
arriving in Rome on Thursday in anticipation of the ceremony, the
canonization of a Sudanese native would send "a message of unity and
pardon" to a country now torn by civil war and widespread famine.
Born in 1869, the future saint was sold into slavery when she was 7 years
ago, and given the name Bakhita, which means "fortunate one." She was
bought and sold five times, and lived under masters who subjected her to
extraordinarily cruel treatment, before being bought by an Italian diplomat
whose family introduced her to Christianity. Eventually, when the Italian
family left Sudan to escape the insurrection launched by the Mahdi, she
found herself in Italy, being educated by Canossion sisters. She was baptized
in 1890, taking the name Josephine, and eventually entered the Canossian
Although she lived a simple, humble life as a religious, she became widely
known for her holiness. Her reputation spread immensely with the
publication of her memoirs, in which she recalled the harsh treatment she
had received during her years of slavery, but reasoned that all her suffering
was part of God's providential plan.
Blessed Josephine Bakhita will be the first African native to be canonized
who did not suffer a martyr's death. Archbishop Waco
believes that she "opens our eyes to a message that the Christians of Sudan
especially need to hear at this particular point in time. Her message is that
God loves us despite our suffering, that love always triumphs in the end, that
we must pardon our persecutors."
Blessed Katherine Drexel will be the second native of the United States to
be proclaimed a saint. Born in 1858 in Philadelphia, into one of that city's
most prominent families, she became acutely concerned with the plight of
African-Americans and Indians. In 1887 she traveled to Rome to ask
Pope Leo XIII to send missionaries to those groups; his response
prompted her to become a missionary herself.
In 1891 she founded the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament, devoted to the
education of Indians and black Americans. With support from her family's
fortune, she established an astounding 60 schools and missions in the
western and southern United States, including Xavier University in New
Orleans. Incapacitated by illness for the final 18 years of her life, she died in
1955; she was beatified by Pope John Paul II in 1988.
Blessed Maria Josefa (of the Heart of Jesus) Sancho de Guerra, the third
women among those to be canonized on October 1, lived in roughly the
same epoch as the other two.
Born in Vitoria, in northern Spain, in 1842, she founded the Institute of
Sister Servants of Jesus, which was devoted to the care of the poor, infants,
the sick, and the aged. She too was a prodigious builder of institutions, who
founded 42 houses before her death in 1912.
CHINA, LAND OF MARTYRS
History of the Faith in Asian Country is Marked by Persecutions
ROME, SEPT. 27, 2000 (ZENIT.org)
The upcoming canonization of 120 China
martyrs has triggered sharp criticism from Beijing and brought to focus the
hard history that Christianity has faced in the world's most populous country.
Christianity' presence in China has been marked by periods of growth -- and
The faith first appeared in China, under the guise of Nestorianism, in 635.
The heresy was abolished by decree in 845.
The first Catholic mission in Beijing was founded by Italian Franciscan
Giovanni de Montecorvino in 1234. He baptized thousands and founded three
churches. Other Franciscan missionaries, including bishops, arrived in
1300. By then, Catholics numbered 30,000.
In 1549 Ignatius of Loyola sent Francis Xavier to China. By 1600, 25 Jesuit
missionaries were in China, along with 22 Franciscans, two Augustinians and
Missionaries in China were a select group. In addition to their spirit of
faith and love, they were chosen for their cultural talents and scientific
know-how, particularly in astronomy and mathematics. Thanks to the
missionaries, the Chinese calendar was corrected.
The missionaries' cultural and scientific qualifications opened many doors
to them, and the quality of their religious life led many upper class
people to convert.
The first martyrs died in 1648. After being imprisoned and tortured,
Dominican Father Francisco Fernandez de Capillas was decapitated while
praying the rosary with several others. The Holy See has recognized him as
a protomartyr of China.
Thanks to the missionaries' culture and scientific knowledge, emperor K'ang
Hsi (1654-1722) decreed religious liberty, opening the empire further to
However, the relation between China and Christianity ran into its worst
problem with the famous debate over "Chinese rites." Some of the
missionaries condemned the rites offered by the Chinese to their ancestors,
as well as other superstitions. In the first decade of the 18th century,
this controversy caused a wave of persecutions against missionaries and lay
faithful; the latter were killed and their churches destroyed. The same
phenomenon occurred in the 19th century.
Persecution was harsh in the 1796-1820 period. Among the era's many martyrs
was Augustine Tchao, a soldier who helped escort Bishop Jean Gabriel Taurin
Dufresse of the Foreign Missions of Paris.
Tchao was so impressed by the bishop's patience that he asked to become a
convert. Once baptized, he was sent to the seminary and eventually was
ordained a priest. During the persecution he was arrested and cruelly
tortured before being put to death.
After China's military defeat by England, there were several decrees in
favor of religious liberty. In 1844 the Chinese were allowed to profess the
Catholic faith and, in 1846, the former penalties against Catholics were
abolished. The Church lived in the open and carried out its mission.
By 1907 China had 1 million Catholics. Three large Catholic universities
were founded, as well as a meteorological center, day-care centers,
orphanages and high-level cultural institutes.
Turn-of-the-century violence led to new persecution. The Boxer Rebellion,
organized by a Chinese secret society that detested foreigners, caused the
death of many Christians. Other secret groups who shared the same hatreds
joined the rebellion.
Fueling the persecution of the missionaries was the Boxers' hatred of
Christianity. A decree dated July 1, 1900, put an end to good relations
with missionaries and Christians. The former had to leave and the latter
were given the choice between apostasy and death. Massacres soon erupted.
Among the numerous martyrs was Jesuit Father Leo Magin. A Frenchman, he was
sent to the Tchou-kia-ho mission, a village of some 400 inhabitants, which
grew to 3,000 as a result of the Boxers' persecution.
Father Magin first fortified the village, but the Boxers overturned the
barricades and invaded. Father Magin was in the church, protecting the
women and children who had sought refuge there. He and another priest,
Father Paul Denn, dressed in their priestly vestments and went to the
altar; the congregation was kneeling in prayer.
In midmorning the Boxers knocked down the church doors, promising life to
anyone who denied the faith. Very few people apostatized. The two priests,
and virtually the entire congregation, were massacred.
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