Wednesday, September 10, 2014

St. John Gabriel Perboyre, Missionary and Martyr

The saint of the day for September 10 is John Gabriel Perboyre, priest, missionary, and martyr. John Gabriel Perboyre was one of eight children born to Pierre Perboyre and Marie Rigal at Le Puech, near Montgesty, Cahors diocese, in southern France, on January 6, 1802.  On Christmas Day 1818, he entered the Congregation of the Mission of Saint Vincent at age 16, following his brother, Louis, to the seminary.  During his formation period, he was a model novice and student. He was ordained in Paris on September 23, 1825.  As a priest, he served God as a theology professor, a seminary rector, and assistant director of novices. When his brother died on a mission to China, and John Gabriel volunteered to take his place. He began his mission in Macao in June, 1836.

For more than a century, China outlawed Christianity and placed a death penalty on all Europeans endeavoring to spread the faith. Authorities often disregarded this law, but in 1839 the Viceroy of the province of Hu-pei began a persecution, using his local Mandarins to obtain the names of priests and catechists in their areas. In 1839, the Mandarin of Hu-pei, where there was a Vincentian mission center, sent soldiers to arrest the missionaries. Warned of the danger by Christians, the priests went off in different directions. Fr. John Gabriel hid in a bamboo forest, but a beaten and tortured catechist led the soldiers to him. Father John Gabriel was arrested, tried and tortured by hanging by his thumbs and flogging with bamboo rods. This torture lasted one year. Fr. John Gabriel was strangled to death on September 11, 1840.  Pope Leo XIII beatified him in 1889, making him the first martyr in China to be so honored. Pope John Paul II canonized him in 1996.

Prayer of St. John Gabriel Perboyre to Jesus

O my Divine Savior,
Transform me into Yourself.
May my hands be the hands of Jesus.
Grant that every faculty of my body
May serve only to glorify You.
Above all,
Transform my soul and all its powers
So that my memory, will and affection
May be the memory, will and affections
Of Jesus.
I pray You
To destroy in me all that is not of You.

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