+ This group of martyrs includes 120 women, men, and children, among whom were 85 Chinese, who gave their lives in witness to their Catholic faith.
+ Martyred over the course of several centuries, this diverse group, which also includes 33 European missionaries, witnesses to the courage and constancy of Chinese Christians.
+ Saint Augustine Zhao Rong, for whom the group of martyrs is named, was a native Chinese priest of the Su-Tchuen province. Arrested because of his Christian faith and ministry, he died in prison in 1815.
+ Canonized during the Jubilee Year of 2000, these martyrs are honored collectively as the patron saints of China.
For prayer and reflection
“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
On this day the Church also remembers Blessed Fidelis Chojnacki. Having worked with alcoholics and the victims of alcohol abuse in Warsaw, Poland, he joined the Capuchin Franciscans in 1933. He continued his ministry to alcoholics during his theological studies, but he was among those priests and religious arrested when the Nazis invaded Poland. Originally imprisoned at Sachsenhausen, he was later transferred to the concentration camp at Dachau, where he began to suffer from severe depression. Blessed Fidelis died from abuse on July 9, 1942, and his last words to his fellow prisoners were, “Praised be Jesus Christ; we’ll see each other in heaven.” Blessed Fidelis was beatified in 1999.
All-powerful, ever-living God,
turn our weakness into strength.
As you gave Augustine Zhao Rong and the martyrs of China
the courage to suffer death for Christ,
give us the courage to live in faithful witness to you.
Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
(from The Roman Missal)
Saint profiles prepared by Brother Silas Henderson, S.D.S.