Christian missionaries first brought the Catholic faith to Vietnam during the sixteenth century. During the seventeenth, eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, Christians suffered for their beliefs. Many were martyred, especially during the reign of Emperor Minh-Mang (1820-1840). One hundred seventeen martyrs are in the group. They were proclaimed saints by Pope John Paul II on June 19,1988. The group was made up of ninety-six Vietnamese, eleven Spaniards, and ten French. Eight of the group were bishops, fifty were priests and fifty-nine were lay Catholics. Some of the priests were Dominicans. Others were diocesan priests who belonged to the Paris Mission Society. One such diocesan priest was St. Theophane Venard. (We honor him also on November 6.) St. Andrew Dung-Lac, who represents this group of heroes, was a Vietnamese diocesan priest. The martyrs of Vietnam suffered to bring the greatest treasure that they possessed: their Catholic faith.
~ Via The Daughters of St. Paul.
St. Andrew Dung-Lac's name was originally Dung An Trân, and he was born about 1795 in a poor and pagan family in Bac-Ninh in North Vietnam. When he was twelve the family had to move to Hà-Nôi (Hanoi) where his parents could find work. There he met a catechist and got food and shelter from him. He also got education in the Christian faith for three years, and was baptized in Vinh-Tri with the Christian name Andrew (Andrew Dung). After learning Chinese and Latin he became a catechist, and thereafter taught catechism in the country. He was chosen to study theology, and on March 15, 1823 he was ordained a priest. As parish priest in Ke-Dâm he was tireless in his preaching. He often fasted and lived a simple and moral life, he was a good example for the people, and many were baptized. In 1835 he was imprisoned under emperor Minh-Mang's persecutions (he was called Vietnam's emperor Nero), but his freedom was purchased by donations from members of the congregation he served. To avoid persecutions he changed his name to Lac (Andrew Lac) and moved to another prefecture to continue his work. But on November 10, 1839 he was again arrested, this time with Peter Thi, another Vietnamese priest whom he was visiting so that he might go to confession.
Once again Andrew was liberated, along with Peter Thi, in exchange for money. Their freedom was brief. They were soon re-arrested and taken to Hanoi, where both suffered dreadful torture. Finally they both were beheaded December 21, 1839.
~ Excerpted from Catholic Culture.
Find out more about the Vietnam martyrs.