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St. Francis Ch’oe Kyong-Hwan

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Birth: ~1804
Death: 1839
Canonized: Pope John Paul II

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A lay catechist, Francis Ch'oe Kyong-hwan, of Ta-rae-kol, Korea, was arrested for his faith in July of 1839 together with his wife Maria and their children. Pagan officials condemned Francis for having sought to evangelize his fellow Koreans. Immune to their threats of torture, he refused to deny his faith. Francis suffered the piercing of his flesh with spikes and a beating of over three hundred blows. So deep was his respect for the sacrament of holy orders that he adamantly resisted his captors' attempts to make him wear the miter and chasuble of the imprisoned bishop, (Saint) Laurent Imbert. While Francis and his family were in prison, one of his sons died of starvation in his mother's arms. Following another beating on September 11, Francis realized that he himself was dying. He told those in his prison cell that he had hoped to suffer beheading for Christ, but since God willed for him to die in prison, "his will be done." Francis died during the night of September 11-12. His wife was beheaded in 1840. One of their sons later became Korea's second native-born priest.

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