ASIA/SOUTH KOREA - The history of the Korean Church in the Vatican

Friday, 8 September 2017

Vatican City (Agenzia Fides) - "The history of the Catholic Church in the last 230 years is a story of salvation that testifies God's will and works": says to Agenzia Fides, Elisabeth Soo-ran Park, of the Sisters of the Blessed Korean Martyrs, congregation born in 1946 in Kaesong, on the occasion of the exhibition "On earth as it is in Heaven", which opens on 9 September in the Vatican (in the Braccio Carlo Magno of the Vatican Museums) which contains 188 precious finds that narrates 230 years of the Catholic Church's history in Korea.
The exhibition, which sees the collaboration between the Vatican Museums and the "Korean Martyrs Exaltation Committee of the Archdiocese of Seoul", is the first exhibition about Korea in the Vatican. The exhibition presents not only the history of the beginnings of the Catholic faith in Korea, but also the modern history with the participation of the Church to social movements, offering a global panorama that embraces over two centuries of life.
"This exhibition is a great opportunity to present the culture and legacy of the Korean Catholic Church to the universal Church", explains to Fides Father Giacomo Won Jong-hyun, vice president of the "Korean Martyrs Exaltation Committee".
Catholicism was introduced in Korea in the 16th century through the translation of some Catholic texts written in Chinese letters. Cultural research was then developed to the point of creating a religious conviction among Korean scholars who had read those texts. The lay community continued to spread the Gospel and for decades asked for a priest in Korea. Finally, in 1794, Father Chu Mun-mo (1752-1801), priest of the diocese of Beijing, became the first missionary in Korea. Since then, the Catholic population has risen rapidly, soon reaching 4,000 faithful. The persecution of Catholics began in 1785, when the government forbade their assemblies. Despite persecution which lasted centuries, Christians continued to live their faith, and today the Catholic community in South Korea represents over 10% of the total population. (PA) (Agenzia Fides, 8/9/2017)