Tuesday, November 24, 2015

St. Andrew Dung-Lac and Companions

Today the Church celebrates the memorial of St. Andrew Dung-Lac, priest and martyr, and companions. This group of 117 Vietnamese martyrs were canonized on June 19, 1988 by Pope John Paul II.

St. Andrew Dung-Lac, whose name was originally Dung An Trân,was born about 1795 in a poor and pagan family in Bac-Ninh in North Vietnam. When he was twelve the family moved to Hà-Nôi (Hanoi). There he met the faith through a Catholic lay catechist. He 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. On March 15, 1823 he was ordained a priest.

As a parish priest in Ke-Dâm he was fervent in his preaching. He was also very prayerful, fasted frequently,  and lived a simple and moral life. He was a good example for the people and converted many. In 1835 he was imprisoned and repeatedly tortured 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 area 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 on December 21, 1839.

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