Hanoi (AsiaNews) - Hundreds of thousands of people, from all over Vietnam, celebrated the Feast day of the Vietnamese Martyrs on Sunday, November 14, in the belief that God has given us the seeds of the martyrs so they can bear fruit in today’s society. "We truly admire our martyrs - said the former archbishop of Hanoi, Mgr. Ngo Quang Kiet -. They sacrificed material benefits, positions of prestige and glory in the company of kings, they wanted to die for the faith. Today, we show their same faith by living according to our religion and by witnessing it in society. Following their example, we have the courage to renounce the temptation of money, fame and material advantages in the world to follow the call of God. Christ’s love is always with us. "
The anniversary this year falls during the Jubilee Year of the Vietnamese Church, which commemorates the 350 years since the creation of two dioceses in "Đàng Trong and Đàng Ngoài" (Church of the North and the South) and 50 years since the establishment of the Catholic hierarchy in the country.
The celebration of the feast day demonstrates the strong faith of the 117 Vietnamese martyrs - 8 bishops, 50 priests and a seminarian and 42 faithful – who along with a further 130 thousand people were put to death by the kings between 1638 and 1886. On June 19, 1988, John Paul II decided to canonize and celebrate in one annual festival all the those whose names are known and unknown.
As the auxiliary bishop of Ho Chi Minh City, Msgr. Peter Nguyen Van Kham, said they were "good citizens at the time of kings. In their local communities, working with all their enthusiasm and well behaved, they lived their being citizens in harmony and having faith in God, they loved their country and contributed to the development of the population". "Today - he underlined - the celebration of the Vietnamese Catholic Martyrs offers us the perfect opportunity to look back and thank God, to learn the lessons of history and to discuss the current situation of the Church, its advantages and disadvantages, what creates difficulties, to seek solutions to build a church that discerns and follows the will of God. "