St. Stephen Min Kuk-ka
Canonized By: Pope John Paul II
Stephen Min Kuk-ka was born into a pagan family of Korea. His mother died soon after his birth. Years later, he and his father and brothers became Catholics. Stephen's first wife, also Catholic, died shortly after their wedding. He married again, and his second wife gave birth to a daughter. But soon death struck Stephen's family once more, taking the lives of both his second wife and their daughter. Thereafter, Stephen devoted his efforts to winning the conversions of his fellow Koreans while serving as a catechist. At length, pagan government agents arrested him. When one official offered him freedom if he would deny his faith, Stephen answered, "Ten thousand times no!" He was then tortured, during which he was again offered freedom if he apostatized. He replied, "If you set me free, not only shall I continue to practice my religion, but I shall try my best to convert others to it." While in prison, Stephen persuaded several apostates to return to the Catholic faith, including two who later suffered execution for their religious profession. Stephen was executed by strangling.
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