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St. Charles Hyon Song-mun

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Birth: ~1797
Death: 1846
Canonized By: Pope John Paul II

The lay catechist Charles Hyon Song-mun, of Seoul, Korea, belonged to a family that had suffered much for the Catholic faith during the waves of persecution that had swept their country from the late eighteenth century onward. Charles's father was executed in 1801, and his older sister (Saint) Benedicta Hyon Kyong-nyon suffered martyrdom in 1839. His wife and son died in prison. Charles served as a trusted lay assistant to the missionaries, offering encouragement to new converts, distributing alms, and writing a book about the persecution of 1839. He personally accompanied Korea's first native priest, (Saint) Andrew Kim Tae-gon, on a dangerous journey to Shanghai, China. When Father Kim secretly took up his residence in Seoul to begin his priestly labors there, Charles risked his own safety by registering the priest's house in his own name. Soon after Father Kim's arrest in June of 1846, government agents tracked Charles down and arrested him together with four Catholic women visiting his home. In prison, Charles gave courage to the other Catholics there. He faced his own beheading with calm fortitude.


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