10/09/2017, 10.53
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'On earth as it is in Heaven': the brave history of the Korean Church in Vatican exhibit

In the Charlemagne wing until November 17th. The 230-year-old Churchin Korea is a "story of martyrdom and action" to accomplish divine will on earth. The "spontaneous" beginnings, the century of persecution and commitment to human rights. Executive director: An unknown story that moves and "ignites" the Church of the West.

Vatican City (AsiaNews) - The 230-year-old Church in Korea is a tale of martyrdom and action designed to realise divine will 'as in heaven so on earth',  in a world characterized by equality between peoples and respect for human dignity. These years of unshakeable faith and martyrdom are recounted in the exhibition open to the Charlemagne wing, to the left of St. Peter's Basilica.

The exhibition "On earth as it is in Heaven. Seoul and the 230-year-old Catholic Church in Korea" was inaugurated on September 9 with the organization of the Korean Catholic Church, the Seoul Archdiocese and Seoul History Museum, and will be open for free until November 17th.

The exhibit takes us from the "spontaneous" birth of the Church in 1784 when the country is called Joseon and the capital Hanyang. Koreans discover the Christian faith not through missionaries, but through Catholic texts that have arrived together with other western works from China. Soon, the values ​​of the new religion clash with the rigid system of social classes that govern society. Thus a century of persecution begins that will reap almost 10,000 victims. The exhibition emphasizes the lives and experiences of martyrs who, with extreme simplicity, refuse to give up the faith. The exhibition accompanies the visitor to the end of the persecution, touching on the difficult testimonies of Japanese occupation in 1910 and the Korean War between 1950 and 1953. The tale is of an active and participatory Church for the reconciliation of the Korean people, close to marginalized and supportive of  democracy and human rights. A historical path that leads to the present day, the beatification of the martyrs and the challenges of the future for a Church that has also become missionary, with 1,045 missionaries around the world, almost half in the rest of Asia .

In September, the exhibition was visited by some 4870 people. Among the visitors, 20% was Korean and the rest of other nationalities.

Sister Soo-ran Elizabeth Park, of the Congregation of the Sisters of Blessed Korean Martyrs, is executive director of the exhibition. Interviewed by AsiaNews, Sister Park reports that visitors are surprised and affected in particular by three aspects highlighted in the exhibition: the spontaneous and autonomous birth of the Church, the persecution of the Church and active life of the Church in Korean society. "Many leave us very emotional comments."

"This kind of show is precious - the nun continues - because it tells a little-known story, especially in the West. It is a distant Church. It would be a good thing to have similar exhibitions often so that people can know the Churches of other parts of the world, especially in the East. What is surprising me is how this flame of the Korean Church is also kindling the focus of the Church of the West. "

The Korean Church is alive and active, and is committed to society on the Korean Peninsula and beyond. "As the Holy Father said when he came to visit, there are not two Koreans, there is one. That is why we must move forward by promoting peace in Korea. The Church in Korean society always tends to work for the poor, marginalized. And not just in Korea. The missionaries first came to Korea, now there are Korean missionaries. "

Giovanna Lee (Korean name Lee Miok), an interpreter and tour guide in Rome, collaborated in the organization: despite the difficulties of such an undertaking, she expressed her delight at seeing visitors visibly moved by this story which "is a very touching discovery because this faith was born of their desire, without missionaries. " (MT)

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