Martyrs (d. 1866)
+ Mark Chong, a Korean nobleman, converted to Christianity after witnessing the martyrdom of two Catholic priests. After his baptism he became a catechist who conscientiously carried out his duties, showing special care for orphans and the sick.
+ When a new wave of persecution erupted against Korean Christians, he helped Catholics escape, while he himself remained.
+ Alexius was baptized by Mark Chong and, after leaving his family, assisted the catechist in translating the catechism and other texts.
+ Following his arrest on New Year’s Day 1866, Alexius renounced his Catholic faith and took part in beating a catechist to death. Confessing his fault, he was arrested again and imprisoned with Mark Chong, who had been arrested on February 25.
+ The two men were severely tortured and eventually executed on March 11, 1866. Saint Mark Chong was 72 and Alexius was 22 years-old. They were canonize with other Korean martyrs in 1984.
On this day, the Church also remembers a Franciscan priest and martyr, Blessed Seán Ó Cearnaigh (aka Kearney). After his formation and ordination in Belgium in 1638, Blessed Seán served the persecuted Catholic community in Ireland, at a time when it was a crime to be a priest in the British Empire. After living as a wanted man for more than nine years—all the while serving his Franciscan brothers in various roles—he was arrested in early 1653 and hanged on March 11 of that year. He was beatified with other Irish martyrs in 1992.
“How often, in difficult moments of history, have we heard it said: ‘Today our country needs heroes’.? Likewise, we can ask, ‘Today what does our Church need?’ Martyrs, witnesses, that is, everyday saints of ordinary life, lives lived coherently; but we also need those who have the courage to accept the grace to be witnesses until the end, until death.”—Pope Francis
Grant a joyful outcome to our prayers, O Lord, so that we, who each year devoutly honor the day of the passion of the holy Martyrs Mark Chong and Alexius, may also imitate the constancy of their faith. 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 Several Martyrs)
Saint profiles prepared by Brother Silas Henderson, S.D.S.