Korean History & Traditions

"The Korean Church is unique because it was founded entirely by lay people. This fledgling Church, so young and yet so strong in faith, withstood wave after wave of fierce persecution. Thus, in less than a century, it could boast of 10,000 martyrs. The death of these martyrs became the leaven of the Church and led to today's splendid flowering of the Church in Korea. Even today their undying spirit sustains the Christians in the Church of silence in the north of this tragically divided land" (Pope John Paul II, speaking at the canonization).

(This entry appears in the print edition of Saint of the Day.)


André Kim Tae-gon
Feast Day: September 20


This first native Korean priest was the son of Korean converts. His father, Ignatius Kim, was martyred during the persecution of 1839 and was beatified in 1925. After Baptism at the age of 15, Andrew traveled 1,300 miles to the seminary in Macao, China. After six years he managed to return to his country through Manchuria. That same year he crossed the Yellow Sea to Shanghai and was ordained a priest. Back home again, he was assigned to arrange for more missionaries to enter by a water route that would elude the border patrol. He was arrested, tortured and finally beheaded at the Han River near Seoul, the capital. He is known as the Leader of the Martyrs of Korea.



O God, You have created all nations and You are their salvation. In the land of Korea Your call to Catholic faith formed a people of adoption, whose growth You nurtured by the blood of Andrew, Paul and their companions. Through their martyrdom and their intercession grant us strength that we too may remain faithful to your commandments even until death. Amen.


Paul Chong Hasang
Feast Day: September 20


Son of Yak Jong Church who was martyred in 1801 in the persecution of Shin-Yu, an attack on the faith that killed all the clergy in the country. Son of Saint Yu Cecilia; brother of Saint Jung Hye. Paul, though a layman, reunited the scattered Christians, and encouraged them to keep their faith and live their faith. Wrote the Sang-Je-Sang-Su which explained to the Korean government why the Church was no threat to them. He crossed into China nine times, working as a servant to the Korean diplomatic corps. Once he was there, he worked to get the bishop of Beijing to send more priests to Korea. He pleaded directly to Rome for help, and on 9 September, 1831, Pope Gregory X proclaimed the validity of the Korean Catholic diocese. When the clergy began to return, Paul entered the seminary. However, he died in the Gi Hye persecution of 1839 before he could be ordained. One of the great founders of the Catholic Church in Korea.






Myeong-dong Cathedral


The holiest Catholic ground in Korea, the cathedral is the birthplace of Catholicism in this country and holds the remains of martyrs who gave their lives to realize their religious belief.


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