The Catholic Church in Korea was formed by laypeople, and many of them gave their lives for their faith. On Sept. 20, the Church remembers two leaders of the Catholic faith in Korea.
St. Andrew Kim Taegon was born to Korean nobility. When he was 15, his parents converted to Catholicism. Andrew traveled over 1,000 miles to study in a seminary, and was ordained as the first Korean priest.
Andrew returned to Korea to preach and catechize the local communities. He did all of his work in the shadows of the night, as Christianity in Korea was suppressed at this time. He was arrested in 1846, while trying to arrange passage for more missionaries to enter Korea. That same year, he was tortured and beheaded.
St. Paul Chong Hasang was born to Blessed Jeong Yak-Jong, a martyr who was a pioneer in spreading the Roman Catholic faith in Korea.
Paul was a Catholic lay leader who defended the faith before the Korean government officials. He encouraged Christians who were being persecuted to stay strong in their faith. In 1825, he wrote to Pope Gregory X to confirm the validity of the Korean Church by establishing a diocese, and send more priests to Korea to help them.
Paul was arrested, and when asked to renounce his faith, he replied, "I have told you that I am a Christian, and will be one until my death." In 1839, Paul was also martyred for the faith.
In persecutions that lasted more than 100 years, more than 10,000 martyrs died.
St. John Paul II canonized St. Andrew Kim Taegon, St. Paul Chong Hasang, and 101 martyrs on May 6, 1984.