SAINT JEAN-GABRIEL PERBOYRE (1802-1840), missionary priest and martyr
Today, the Church honors Saint Jean-Gabriel Perboyre, a Vincentian priest who met a brutal death by being crucified for not denying his faith in Jesus Christ.
Jean-Gabriel was born in 1802 in Puech, France, to a pious family of eight children. Accompanied by his younger brother Louis, Jean-Gabriel entered the seminary at the age of sixteen, and became a member of the Congregation of the Mission, a Vincentian Order founded by Saint Vincent de Paul.
He was ordained to the priesthood in 1825, and was sent to a seminary in Saint-Flour to teach theology, before being appointed rector, and later master of novices in Paris – on account of the sanctity his superiors saw in him.
His younger brother, Louis, also ordained, died on his way to preach in China at the age of twenty-four, and Father Jean-Gabriel asked to carry out the mission that had been entrusted to his brother. He arrived on the island of Macao on August 29, 1835, and set out for mainland China later that same year.
He carried out his evangelical labors in Ho-Nan for three years before being transferred to Hou-Pé. His missionary work bore much fruit in the short time he spent there.
A widespread persecution of Christians began in 1839, the same year England had attacked China. Father Jean-Gabriel was denounced to the authorities by one of his catechumens, and was arrested on September 16, 1839.
He was stripped of his garments and clothed with rags, bound, and dragged from tribunal to tribunal. At each trial, he was tortured and treated inhumanly. Finally, he was taken to Ou-Tchang-Fou, and after considerable and an unspeakable torture, all the while never apostatizing nor rejecting his faith in His personal Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, Father Jean-Gabriel was condemned to death.
The sentence was ratified by an imperial edict, and on September 11, 1840, almost a year after his initial arrest, Father Jean-Gabriel was led to his place of execution. He was lashed to a cross and strangled to death.
Jean-Gabriel was canonized a saint on June 2, 1996 by Pope St. John Paul II.
We commemorate his feastday on September 11.
(From catholicnewsagency.com, saints.sqpn.com, americancatholic.org and newadvent.org)
(The following prayer is from the Roman Breviary from the Commons for One Martyr)
“All-powerful, Ever-living God, You gave Saint Jean-Gabriel the courage to witness to the Gospel of Christ, even to the point of giving his life for it. By his prayers, help us to endure all suffering for love of You and to seek You with all our hearts, for You alone are the Source of life.
“Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives and reigns with You in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.”