SAINT ANDREW DŬNG-LẠC (c.1795-1839), priest and martyr, and COMPANIONS, martyrs
Today, the universal Church honors Saint Andrew Dŭng-Lạc and 116 of his companions who remained steadfast in their faith and gained for themselves the martyr’s crown, rather than committing apostasy and denying their belief in Jesus Christ and their love for His Truth.
The beginning of the sixteenth century saw the first sowing of the Gospel message of Jesus Christ among the Vietnamese people, and this seed grew through the blood of martyrs and the spiritual joy of the newly baptized faithful.
During the seventeenth, eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, particularly during the reign of Emperor Minh Mang (1820-1840), many Christians died a martyr’s death – including bishops, priests, men and women religious, and large numbers of the laity. All of these suffered torments of various types for their Christian faith and fidelity to the Cross of Christ.
Father Andrew Dŭng-Lạc, who represents this group of heroes, was a Vietnamese diocesan priest. He came from a poor, non-Christian family and was taught by a Christian lay catechist. He worked in the missions with the priests of the Foreign Mission Society of Paris. He was imprisoned and repeatedly tortured during the persecutions of Minh-Mang, and was beheaded on December 21, 1839 in Ô Cau Giay, Hanoi, Vietnam.
The last of the martyrs were 17 laypersons, one of them a 9-year-old child, executed in 1862. That year, a treaty with France guaranteed religious freedom to Catholics, but it did not stop all persecutions.
Father Andrew Dŭng-Lạc was one of 117 people martyred in Vietnam between 1820 and 1862. Members of this group were beatified on four different occasions between 1900 and 1951.
On June 19, 1988, all were canonized saints by Pope St. John Paul II. The witness of their lives as martyrs gives testament to the sufferings inflicted upon the Vietnamese Church, which are among the most horrific in the long history of Christian martyrdom.
We celebrate their joint feastday on November 24.
(From catholicnewsagency.com, saints.sqpn.org, americancatholic.org, catholicculture.org and vatican.va/news_services)
(The following prayer is from the Roman Breviary from the Proper for Saint Andrew Dŭng-Lạc and Companions)
“O God, Source and Origin of all fatherhood, You kept the blessed martyrs Andrew Dŭng-Lạc and his companions faithful to the Cross of Your Son, even to the shedding of their blood. Through their intercession, enable us to spread Your Love among our brothers and sisters, that we may be called and may truly be Your children.
“We ask 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.”