Manila (Fides Service) - “The martyrs, shining examples of Christians, are witnesses of faith and an extraordinary help for the growth of the Church in Asia. Asians elevated to the honour of the altars planted the Christian faith in the cradle of the world’s oldest traditions and religions. Their blood helped the Church to grow. Martyrdom is a source of profound “spiritual riches and a great means of evangelisation”. This was said by Father Jose Vidamor Yu, vice rector at St Charles Seminary Manila, in a paper titled “The Recent Martyrs of the Church in Asia”, presented at the 29th video-conference organised by the Congregation for the Clergy. on the theme “Martyrdom and witnesses to the faith”.
Prof. Vidamor Yu said: “the birth of the Church in Asia is as old as the birth of the Church itself. Christianity spread rapidly from Jerusalem to Antioch and the westwards to Rome. It reached the coast of India where St Thomas preached and was martyred. The faith reached Armenia where is was preached by Saint Jude Thaddeus and Bartholomew. Through their martyrdom Armenia became the first nation to embrace Christianity. Apostolic evangelisation of Syria, the Arab nations during the 5th century, the Chinese in the 13th century and the Pacific region in the 15th century, gave witnesses and martyrs of the Christian faith ”.
“Examples of Christian martyrs, those proclaimed by the Church and those known only to God, are an inspiration and encouragement to missionaries who tirelessly dedicate their lives to the evangelising work of the Church in Asia. Missionaries should also draw inspiration from those who lived the essence of the Christian message. (...) The vocation to martyrdom or witness is not only a person’s gift to God it is also a gift to the Church and to Asia”.
Asia’s martyrs open new horizons for missionary work. Prof. Vidamor Yu mentions the some examples: “In India, Gonsaolo Garcia and John de Brito canonised respectively in 1629 and in 1947. Joseph Vaz beatified in 1995. Japan has Paul Miki and companion martyrs, Grazia Hosawaka, LudivicoIbaragi, Michael Kozaki and Takayam Ukon. Korea has more than 10,000 martyrs and Pope John Paul II canonised 103 martyrs in Seoul in 1984. Korea honours Father Andrew Kim Taegon and laymen Chung Hasang and Kim Hyoim. The Philippines have Lorenzo Ruiz and companions, catechist Pedro Calungsod beatified in 2000. Vietnam has more than 130,000 martyrs, including 117 canonised in 1988: Andrew Dung Lac, Phanxico Xavier Can, Vincent Diem, Phaolo Le Bao Tinh, Phero Nguyen Khac Tu and Agnes Le Thi Thanh beatified in 2000. With regard to China in 2000 the Pope canonised 120 martyrs, (87 Chinese born Christians and 33 foreign missionaries)”.
Prof. Vidamor Yu concluded: “The witness of Asian martyrs taught the Church how to be an authentic witness of the Gospel by sharing the joys and hopes, sufferings and prayers and deeds of the Asian peoples”.
(PA) (Agenzia Fides 9/6/2004 lines 55 words 564)