10/15/2012, 00.00
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A new sanctuary for the Korean martyrs, "founders of the country"

by Joseph Yun Li-sun
On October 20, in the presence of civil and religious authorities, the Bishop of Daejeon Msgr. Lazzaro You Heung-sik will inaugurate a new place of worship, the largest in the country, dedicated to the memory of the victims of the Byeongin persecution. "They are a source of daily inspiration for all of us."

Daejeon (AsiaNews) - The martyrs "were the greatest gift that God has given to South Korea. Their testimony, their sacrifice are a source of daily inspiration for all of us. And to inaugurate a new shrine dedicated to the Catholic martyrs is an act felt even by non-Christians, which demonstrates how their efforts have been acknowledged by all Koreans." This was related to AsiaNews by Msgr. Lazzaro You Heung-sik, Bishop of Daejeon, a few days before the opening of the sanctuary "Hwangsae Bawee."

The sanctuary, the bishop continued, "will be inaugurated on October 20 and will be the largest in the country. The building was made possible by the donations of the faithful, but also by the generous contribution of the State, which wanted to recognize the sanctuary's historical importance common to us all. Inside there will be a plaque with the names of the 337 martyrs who were executed during the terrible repression of the Joseon Dynasty."

The history of this place is unique and of central interest for the local Church. Some centuries ago, storks gathered here: the name literally means "the fortress of the storks." But "Hangswae", which sounds the same, also means "pillory": and during the wave of anti-Christian fury imposed by the imperial family, hundreds of faithful were led away here to be executed.

The death sentences were carried out at the bottom of the valley - in the exact place where the sanctuary will rise - in order to have as many viewers as possible: Catholics were beheaded, hanged, stoned, forced to starve to death or tortured to the point of madness. "For more than a decade", Msgr. You explained, "in the course of the Byeongin persecution, the followers of Christ brought here refused to recant their faith and died with courage."

Among the martyrs whose identity has been discovered there are Lee Jon-chang, one of the first Korean Catholic leaders, the little daughter of Kim Chun-gyeom (hanged at 10 years old) and Augustine Nam Sang-gyo, who died in prison at 84 and was the father of St. Jong Nam Chong-sam, who was also a martyr.

At the inauguration of the sanctuary, Msgr. You concluded, "there will be Msgr. Padilla, Apostolic Nuncio to Korea and Mongolia, but also the governor of the province, several local MPs and Moon Jae-in, Democratic presidential candidate for the elections in December. This, too, is a testimony of how these martyrs have helped to shape the whole country, not only our Church."






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