St. Jean Gabriel Perboyre was born in France in 1802. He was one of eight children, and two of his brothers also became priests, while two sisters became nuns. When he was 16, Jean Gabriel went to seminary with his younger brother Louis, and felt called to enter the Congregation of the Mission.

Jean Gabriel was ordained at 23, and eventually became rector and then master of novices in Paris. When his brother Louis died at age 24, while on the way to preach in China, Jean Gabriel was asked to take his place. In 1835, he went to Macao, and spent three years evangelizing in Ho-Nan, and then Hou-Pe. Many people converted to Christianity through his effort.

On September 11, 1839, Jean Gabriel was killed as part of the persecution against Christians, in a way similar to the death of Christ. He was betrayed for silver, and stripped of his clothes. He was dragged from tribunal to tribunal, beaten and tortured, and then was crucified with seven other criminals, and died on the cross.

On June 2, 1996, St. Pope John Paul II canonized St. Jean Gabriel as the first saint of China.