Martyr-Priest from Thailand – (1895-1944)
+ Nicholas was born in Sam Phran, Nakhon Pathom, Thailand. Raised as a Christian, he entered seminary at the age of 13 and was ordained a priest for the archdiocese of Bangkok in 1926.
+ After serving a pastor of two parishes, he served as a missionary in northern Vietnam from 1930 to 1937, giving special attention to the needs of poor Catholics in that region.
+ In 1941, as tensions were mounting between the French colonials and the anti-French Viet Minh (this would eventually lead to the Indochina Wars), Nicholas was arrested and accused of being a spy for the French.
+ Sentenced to ten years in prison, Nicholas contracted tuberculosis which, combined with the harsh conditions in the prison, led to his death on January 12, 1944. It was later revealed that he spent those years in prison still serving as a missionary among his fellow prisoners, baptizing at least 68 inmates.
+ Blessed Nicholas Bunkerd Kitbamrung was beatified in 2000 and is honored as the first martyr-priest of Thailand.
In 1989, Pope Saint John Paul II beatified a group of seven other Thai lay and religious martyrs who were killed during a wave of anti-Christian persecutions that began when the French left Thailand in Thailand. Among the martyrs are Blesseds Agnes Phila and Luci Khambang, religious sisters of the Congregation of Lovers of the Cross, and three children: Bibiana Khamphai (age 15), Cecilia Butsi (age 16), and Maria Phan (age 11). These martyrs are honored on December 26.
“Fr Nicolas Bunkerd Kitbamrung’s priestly life was an authentic hymn of praise to the Lord. A man of prayer, Fr Nicolas was outstanding in teaching the faith, in seeking out the lapsed, and in his charity towards the poor.”—Pope Saint John Paul II
Grant, we pray, almighty God, that we may follow with due devotion the faith of blessed Nicholas, who, for spreading the faith, merited the crown of martyrdom. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
(from The Roman Missal: Common of Martyrs—For a Missionary-Martyr)
Saint profiles prepared by Brother Silas Henderson, S.D.S.