St. John Paul II pointed to the inspiring faith of 120 Chinese martyrs, including two astonishingly brave teenagers.
The Church celebrates the lives of 120 Chinese martyrs each year on July 9, looking to them for inspiration.
St. John Paul II canonized this large group of saints on October 1, 2000, recalling their extraordinary witness to Christ.
Today the Church is grateful to her Lord, who blesses her and bathes her in light with the radiant holiness of these sons and daughters of China.
Young Anna Wang, a 14-year-old, withstood the threats of the torturers who invited her to apostatize. Ready for her beheading, she declared with a radiant face: “The door of heaven is open to all,” three times murmuring: “Jesus.”
And 18-year-old Chi Zhuzi cried out fearlessly to those who had just cut off his right arm and were preparing to flay him alive: “Every piece of my flesh, every drop of my blood will tell you that I am Christian.”
Anna was killed on July 22, 1900. Chi was also killed in the year 1900.
These martyrs represent many Christians who were killed over a period of several centuries, not on the same day. Their deaths occurred between 1648 and 1930.
St. John Paul II pointed out how these Chinese saints can inspire all of us, especially all Christians courageously living out their faith in China.
[These] Chinese men and women of every age and state, priests, religious and lay people, showed the same conviction and joy, sealing their unfailing fidelity to Christ and the Church with the gift of their lives … Today, with this solemn proclamation of holiness, the Church intends merely to recognize that those martyrs are an example of courage and consistency to us all, and that they honor the noble Chinese people.
The example of these Chinese martyrs can inspire us to live our faith with great joy and fidelity, never yielding to outside forces that seek to extinguish our Christianity. They are also a reminder to pray for all of our brothers and sisters suffering persecution.