01/02/2021, 10.24
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Card. Zen blesses an altarpiece of the Chinese martyrs in Yuen Long

The painting portrays the 120 martyrs canonized by John Paul II in 2000. They include Saint Alberico Crescitelli, PIME missionary, killed in 1900 during the Boxer revolution. The altarpiece is the work of Gary Chu Kar-kui. Card. Zen praised the martyrs who courageously stood firm in the truth, sacrificing their lives.

Hong Kong (AsiaNews / SE) - Bishop emeritus of Hong Kong, Card. Joseph Zen, has blessed an altarpiece depicting the Chinese martyrs. These martyrs were canonized on 1 October 2000 by Pope John Paul II during the Jubilee of that year.

The list includes 120 names including priests, men and women religious, lay people - even children - and foreign missionaries, killed between the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century. They also include a martyr of PIME (Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions), Fr. Alberico Crescitelli, killed in 1900, during the Boxer revolution.

At the time, the Patriotic Association in China launched a fierce campaign against canonization, fearing ever greater unity between official and underground Catholics, under the leadership of the pope.

Twenty years later, the pastor of the parish of St. Peter and Paul in Yuen Long, Fr. Gervais Baudry, decided to honour these martyrs with a painting. Last April, he invited artist Gary Chu Kar-kui to do the work. The blessing of the altar piece was set for October 1, 2020, but due to restrictions on gatherings, linked to the pandemic, it has been postponed.

Card. Zen blessed the work last December 13, but the news was published in the diocesan weekly only yesterday.

The cardinal expressed his appreciation for the witness of the martyrs, who courageously stood firm in the faith, sacrificing their lives.

The painting is 2.4 meters wide and 1.2 meters high and for now it is located in the external corridor of the chapel. On both sides of the work there are two inscriptions honouring the sacrifices of the saints, composed by Sister Juan Gu, engaged in the pastoral care of the parish. Fr Baudry also placed a commemorative plaque which offers some information on the life of the martyrs.

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