In China, between 1648 and 1930, 120 martyrs, who were canonized on October 1, 2000. Christianity had been brought to China by Nestorian missionaries in the seventh century, and by Franciscans in 1294. In the late 16th century Jesuits and later other missionaries reached the country. The first Chinese priest was ordained in 1658. The Jesuits missionaries had tried to integrate the Christian liturgy into Chinese culture, particularly by incorporating veneration of ancestors. A Vatican decision against these Chinese rites in 1704 was a major setback to the missionary effort in China. Beginning in 1748 there was a series of sporadic persecutions culminating in the death of 25,000 Catholics during the Boxer rebellion at the end of the 19th century. Many of these martyrs were catechists.
In the Netherlands, in 1572, St. Nicholas Pieck and companions, the martyrs of Gorcum. A group of Calvinists successfully besieged the town and rounded up the Catholic clergy. Nineteen of them were killed: eleven Franciscans led by Nicholas Pieck, four secular priests, and four other religious priests. Not all of these priests had led exemplary lives, but in the end they chose to die rather than renounce their Catholic faith.
In 1794, at Orange in France, thirty-two nuns, who were arrested in April, and executed one or two at a time during July. Their crime was that they would not take the Republican oath of the French Revolution, which they judged irreligious.
In 1942, in Brazil, St. Pauline Wisenteiner. She was from a poor family, but found time to teach catechism classes and visit the sick. Encouraged by some Jesuit missionaries, she began a religious congregation, which she led from 1895-1909. She lived the rest of her life as a simple sister, and devoted her life especially to the care of elderly poor people.
In 1966, in Rome, Blessed Marija Petkovic. She was born in 1892 in southern Croatia, the sixth of thirteen children. She went to a Catholic school and was active in various Catholic organizations. She started a religious community in 1920, the Daughters of Mercy, which aimed at spreading knowledge of God’s mercy through the exercise of works of mercy. The community expanded rapidly, opening children’s homes, nursing homes, hospitals and schools. In 1961, after forty years as superior, Maria retired to a life of prayer.
Our daily martyrology was written by Fr. Hugh Feiss, OSB. Copyright © 2008 by the Monastery of the Ascension, Jerome, ID 83338.