Martyrs: d. 1900
+ The four Martyrs of Zhujiahe include two Jesuit missionary priests, Saint Léon-Ignace Mangin and Saint Paul Denn, and two lay Christians, Maria Zhu Wushi and Petrus Zhu Rixin.
+ Léon-Ignace was born in Verny, France, in 1857 and entered the Society of Jesus in 1875. He became a missionary in China in 1882.
+ Paul Denn was born in Lille, France, in 1847. He became a Jesuit at the age of 25 and was ordained in 1880. He served at the mission at Zhujiahe with Saint Léon-Ignace.
+ Maria Zhu Wushi was born in Zhujiaje, China, around 1580. A married lay woman, she helped support the work of the two French priests.
+ Saints Léon-Ignace, Paul, and Maria were murdered during the distribution of communion during Mass on July 20, 1900, when the Church was invaded by soldiers during what has become known as the “Boxer Rebellion.” Maria was murdered as she tried to defend Father Léon-Ignace.
+ Saint Petrus Zhu Rixin was in the church in Zhujiahe when the other martyrs were murdered but managed to escape. He was later captured and ordered to renounce his Christian faith. He refused and was beheaded in the village of Loujiazhuang. He was 19 years old.
+ These four martyrs were canonized with 116 other Martyrs of China (including both European missionaries and Chinese Christians) in 2000. They are honored collectively on July 9.
The Boxer Rebellion was an anti-foreign and anti-Christian uprising that took place in China between 1899 and 1901. The “Boxers” (formally called the Militia United in Righteousness [Yihetuan]) were motivated by pro-Chinese sentiments and opposed the introduction of Western culture and religion in China. Hundreds of Catholic, Protestant, and Orthodox missionaries were killed and some estimates state that as many as 30,000 Chinese Christians died during the persecution.
“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.”—Pope Saint John Paul II
May the sight of the great number of your holy Martyrs gladden us, O Lord, making our faith stronger and bringing us consolation by the prayers of them all. 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 Martyrology: Common of Martyrs—For Several Martyrs)
Saint profiles prepared by Brother Silas Henderson, S.D.S.