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Saint Andrew Kim Taegon

김대건 안드레아

Saint Andrew Kim was born on August 21st, 1821 in Solmous, Dangjin, Korea and was baptized at the age of 15 to parents who were both converts to the Christian faith. During the late Joseon Dynasty Christianity was heavily suppressed and Christians were often publically executed. Though very isolated from the rest of the world during this time, Jesuits studying in China were able to smuggle Christian literature into Korea and by the time the first missionaries arrived in the mid 1800s, thousands of Koreans were found already practicing Christianity.

Saint Andrew Kim was born and raised during this persecution and his great-grandfather Kim Jin-Hu was martyred in 1814 and Grand-Uncle was martyred in 1816. Following his baptism, he traveled to the seminary in Macau, China at a Portuguese colony. He would then travel to Shanghai and be ordained a priest in 1945 by the Bishop Jean Ferreol. He immediately set back off for Korea and managed to smuggle himself into the country, preaching, evangelizing and aiding in the creation for detailed maps to assist other French missionaries in entering the country.

In 1846 while planning a trip for French missionaries to enter the country, he was arrested and tortured Seoul on the Han River. He wrote the following to his parish while in prison:

"My dear brothers and sisters know this: Our Lord Jesus Christ upon descending into the world took innumerable pains upon and constituted the holy Church through his own passion and increases it through the passion of its faithful....Now, however, some fifty or sixty years since holy Church entered into our Korea, the faithful suffer persecutions again. Even today persecution rages, so that many of our friends of the same faith, among who am I myself, have been thrown into prison. Just as you also remain in the midst of persecution. Since we have formed one body, how can we not be saddened in our innermost hearts? How can we not experience the pain of separation in our human faculties? However, as Scripture says, God cares for the least hair of our heads, and indeed he cares with his omniscience; therefore, how can persecution be considered as anything other than the command of God, or his prize, or precisely his punishment?...We are twenty here, and thanks be to God all are still well. If anyone is killed, I beg you not to forget his family. I have many more things to say, but how can I express them with pen and paper? I make an end to this letter. Since we are now close to the struggle, I pray you to walk in faith, so that when you have finally entered into Heaven, we may greet one another. I leave you my kiss of love."

It is reported that his final words were:

This is my last hour of life, listen to me attentively: if I have held communication with foreigners, it has been for my religion and for my God. It is for Him that I die. My immortal life is on the point of beginning. Become Christians if you wish to be happy after death, because God has eternal chastisements in store for those who have refused to know Him.

On September 26, 1846 at the age of 25, he was tortured and beheaded. Reports state that his ears were pierced with arrows and his face covered with lime before being beheaded. His Father (Ignatius Kim) had been martyred in 1839.

Saint Andrew Kim and his father Saint Ignatius Kim were beatified on July 25th, 1949 by Pope Pius XI. On May 6th, 1984 Pope John Paul II canonized the two and 102 other Korean Martyrs during his trip to Korea. He is officially the patron saint of the Korean Clergy.

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