Martyrs of Laos

The Blessed Martyrs of Laos are seventeen Catholic priests and professed religious as well as one lay young man venerated as martyrs killed in Laos between 1954 and 1970 during a period of anti-religious sentiment under the Pathet Lao communist political movement.[1][2]

The cause for their canonization was opened as two parallel processes with one for Mario Borzaga – an Italian Missionary Oblate of Mary Immaculate – and his companion Paul Thoj Xyooj – a Laotian catechist – and another for a group of fifteen martyrs that included ten French missionaries as well as five Laotian Catholics.[2] The Borzaga cause commenced under Pope Benedict XVI on 22 December 2006 and the Tiěn cause commenced on 18 January 2008 in a move that accorded both sets of martyrs the title of Servant of God. Pope Francis approved both beatifications in 2015 and their beatification took place in Vientiane Cathedral on 11 December 2016 in which Cardinal Orlando Quevedo presided on the pope's behalf.[1]

Martyrs of Laos
BornItaly, France and Laos
Died1954–1970, Laos
Martyred byPathet Lao
Venerated inCatholic Church
Beatified11 December 2016, Vientiene, Laos, by Cardinal Orlando Quevedo
Feast16 December
  • Palm
  • Priest's attire
  • Persecuted Christians
  • Missionaries
Notable martyrs
  • Mario Borzaga
  • Joseph Thąo Tiěn


Mario Borzaga and Thoj Xyooj Paj Lug


Mario Borzaga was born on 27 August 1932 in Trent as the third of four children.[3] He was ordained to the priesthood on 24 February 1957 (he entered the seminary in 1943) and became a professed member of the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate in 1952. Borzaga decided to join the missions in Laos that his order was overseeing and so left Naples with the first Italian team to Laos where he learnt about the language and the local culture in order to assimilate into the communities. In 1958 he operated in small villages before moving into the northern regions around the apostolic vicariate of Luang Prabang where he began teaching catechism and later met the layman Thoj Xyooj Paj Lug.[3][4]

On 25 April 1960 he and Lug – at the request of some of the villagers of Pha Xoua – began a three-day walk near the border of China and along the path lost their tracks but were later ambushed and killed by guerillas of the Pathet Lao. He was killed on 25 April 1960 in the town of Kiukatiam in Luang Prabang in Laos.[4] It was said that Borzaga was allowed to go because he was a foreign priest but he responded to his attackers: "If you kill him, you kill me. If he dies, I will die". His remains were thrown into a pit with his companion and never identified with precision.

He wrote a diary of his experiences and was later published as "To Be a Happy Man".


Thoj Xyooj Paj Lug was born in 1941 in Kiukatiam and was a lifelong layman and catechist from the apostolic vicariate of Luang Prabang.[5]

He was killed on 25 April 1960 in his hometown and his remains crudely thrown into a pit alongside his priestly companion.[5]

Joseph Thąo Tiěn and 14 companions

The fifteen martyrs are a group of French priests and religious from the Society of Foreign Missions of Paris and the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate; there were also four lay Laotian catechists in this group and all were killed between 1954 and 1970 under the communist movement known as Pathet Lao.[6]

During the Easter season of 1953, guerillas stormed Sam Neua and many missionaries retreated in order to remain safe while Joseph Thąo Tiěn remained behind – ordained in 1949 – and said: "I am staying for my people. I am ready to lay down my life for my Laotian brothers and sisters". He was then marched to the prison camp at Talang and told weeping people along the way: "Do not be sad, I'll come back. I am going to study ... Make sure that your village keeps improving". The priest was sentenced to death and killed a year later and refused to give up the priesthood and marry as his captors ordered him to do.[7]

On the other side of Laos the priest John Baptist Malo – who served in China – was detained with four companions and died of exhaustion in 1954 en route to a prison camp. Other French priests and religious were killed and others died in captivity.[7]


Vincent LHénoret omi
Fr. Vincent l'Hénoret O.M.I.

Below are the names of the fifteen martyrs:[6]

  • Jean-Baptiste Malo (2 June 1889 – 28 March 1954) – priest of the Society of Foreign Missions of Paris
  • Joseph Thąo Tiěn (5 December 1918 – 2 June 1954) – priest
  • René Dubroux (28 November 1914 – 19 December 1959) – priest of the Society of Foreign Missions of Paris
  • Louis Leroy (8 October 1923 – 18 April 1961) – priest of the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate
  • Michel Coquelet (18 August 1931 – 20 April 1961) – priest of the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate
  • Vincent l'Hénoret (12 March 1921 – 11 May 1961) – priest of the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate
  • Noël Tenaud (11 November 1904 – 27 April 1961) – priest of the Society of Foreign Missions of Paris
  • Joseph Outhay Phongphumi (1933 – 27 April 1961) – layman and catechist
  • Marcel Denis (8 July 1919 – 31 July 1961) – priest of the Society of Foreign Missions of Paris
  • Jean Wauthier (22 March 1926 – 16 December 1967) – priest of the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate
  • Lucien Galan (9 December 1921 – 12 May 1968) – priest of the Society of Foreign Missions of Paris
  • Thomas Khampheuane Inthirath (May 1952 – 12 May 1968) – layman
  • Joseph Boissel (20 December 1909 – 5 July 1969) – priest of the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate
  • Luc Sy (1938 – 7 March 1970) – layman and catechist
  • Maisam Pho Inpèng (1934 – 7 March 1970) – married layman


The beatification process for Borzaga and Lug commenced in Trent after the forum for the process was transferred from Luang Prabang on 30 September 2005 to Trent. The two were then titled as a Servant of God on 22 December 2006 under Pope Benedict XVI after the Congregation for the Causes of Saints issued the official "nihil obstat" and allowed the process to take place. The diocesan process spanned from 7 October 2006 to 17 October 2008 and the C.C.S. later validated the process on 19 June 2009 in a move that allowed for the postulation to send the Positio to the C.C.S. in 2014. Theologians approved the cause on 27 November 2014 while the C.C.S. also voted in approval on 5 May 2015. Pope Francis approved the beatification that very same day and confirmed the two were martyrs.

The second cause commenced in Nantes and the transfer of the forum came from Savannakhet and other Laotian cities on 6 September 2007. The official "nihil obstat" came on 18 January 2008 and allowed for the inauguration of the diocesan process which started on 10 June 2008 and concluded its business on 28 February 2010; the cause was validated on 15 October 2011. The postulation sent the Positio to the C.C.S. in 2014 and theologians voiced their approval to the cause on 27 November 2014 while the C.C.S. also voted in favor on 2 June 2015. Pope Francis confirmed the group were martyrs on 5 June 2015 and approved their beatification.

The beatification was celebrated in Vientiane Cathedral on 11 December 2016 in which Cardinal Orlando Quevedo presided on the pope's behalf.[8]

The current postulator for both these causes is the Rev. Thomas Kosterkamp.


  1. ^ a b "The martyrs of Laos, part 2". Retrieved 21 September 2016.
  2. ^ a b "Group of Laotians soon to be recognized as martyrs". Retrieved 21 September 2016.
  3. ^ a b "Blessed Mario Borzaga". Santi e Beati. Retrieved 23 September 2016.
  4. ^ a b "Venerable Mario Borzaga". Saints SQPN. 14 June 2016. Retrieved 23 September 2016.
  5. ^ a b "Venerable Paul Thoj Xyooj". Saints SQPN. 13 June 2016. Retrieved 23 September 2016.
  6. ^ a b "Blessed Martyrs of Laos". Santi e Beati. Retrieved 23 September 2016.
  7. ^ a b "Martyrs of Laos". OMI Postulation. Retrieved 23 September 2016.
  8. ^ Missions étrangères de Paris, La béatification de dix-sept martyrs du Laos célébrée à Vientiane augure d'un avenir renouvelé pour l'Église locale, 12 décembre 2016

External links


Agabus (Greek: Ἄγαβος) was an early follower of Christianity mentioned in the Acts of the Apostles as a prophet. He is traditionally remembered as one of the Seventy Disciples described in Luke 10:1-24.

Athleta Christi

"Athleta Christi" (Latin: "Champion of Christ") was a class of Early Christian soldier martyrs, of whom the most familiar example is one such "military saint," Saint Sebastian.

Cappadocian Fathers

The Cappadocian Fathers, also traditionally known as the Three Cappadocians, are Basil the Great (330–379), who was bishop of Caesarea; Basil's younger brother Gregory of Nyssa (c. 335 – c. 395), who was bishop of Nyssa; and a close friend, Gregory of Nazianzus (329–389), who became Patriarch of Constantinople. The Cappadocia region, in modern-day Turkey, was an early site of Christian activity, with several missions by Paul in this region.

The Cappadocians advanced the development of early Christian theology, for example the doctrine of the Trinity, and are highly respected as saints in both Western and Eastern churches.

Chariton the Confessor

Saint Chariton the Confessor (Greek: Αγιος Χαρίτων; end of 3rd century, Iconium, Asia Minor - ca. 350, Judaean desert) is a Christian saint. His remembrance day is September 28.

Christian martyrs

A Christian martyr is a person who is killed because of their testimony of Jesus. In years of the early church, this often occurred through stoning, crucifixion, burning at the stake or other forms of torture and capital punishment. The word "martyr" comes from the Koine word μάρτυς, mártys, which means "witness" or "testimony".

At first, the term applied to Apostles. Once Christians started to undergo persecution, the term came to be applied to those who suffered hardships for their faith. Finally, it was restricted to those who had been killed for their faith. The early Christian period before Constantine I was the "Age of martyrs". Early Christians venerated martyrs as powerful intercessors, and their utterances were treasured as inspired by the Holy Spirit."

Confessor of the Faith

The title Confessor, the short form of Confessor of the Faith, is a title given by the Christian Church to a type of saint.

Dalua of Tibradden

Saint Dalua of Tibradden (Irish: Do-Lúe, Latin: Daluanus), also called Dalua of Craoibheach, was an early Irish saint who is said to have been a disciple of St. Patrick. He founded a church that became known as Dun Tighe Bretan (Tibradden) which is located today in the townland of Cruagh, Co. Dublin.

Four Evangelists

In Christian tradition, the Four Evangelists are Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, the authors attributed with the creation of the four Gospel accounts in the New Testament that bear the following titles: Gospel according to Matthew; Gospel according to Mark; Gospel according to Luke and Gospel according to John.

Great martyr

Great Martyr or Great-Martyr (Greek: μεγαλομάρτυς or μεγαλομάρτυρ, megalomartys or megalomartyr, from megas, "great" + "martyr") is a classification of saints who are venerated in the Eastern Orthodox Church and those Eastern Catholic Churches which follow the Rite of Constantinople.

Generally speaking, a Great Martyr is a martyr who has undergone excruciating tortures—often performing miracles and converting unbelievers to Christianity in the process—and who has attained widespread veneration throughout the Church. These saints are often from the first centuries of the Church, before the Edict of Milan. This term is normally not applied to saints who could be better described as hieromartyrs (martyred clergy) or protomartyrs (the first martyr in a given region).

Judas Barsabbas

Judas Barsabbas was a New Testament prophet and one of the 'leading men' in the early Christian community in Jerusalem at the time of the Council of Jerusalem in around 50 A.D.

List of child saints

Child saints are children and adolescents who died or were martyred and have been declared saints or martyrs of the Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Coptic Orthodox, Anglican, Episcopalian, or Lutheran Churches or have been beatified or venerated by those churches.

Louis-Marie Ling Mangkhanekhoun

Louis-Marie Ling Mangkhanekhoun I.V.D. (born 8 April 1944) is a Laotian prelate of the Roman Catholic Church. He has been a cardinal since 28 June 2017 and the Apostolic Vicar of the Apostolic Vicariate of Vientiane, in Laos, since 16 December 2017. He is also the first Cardinal from Laos.

Melchior (magus)

Saint Melchior, or Melichior, was purportedly one of the Biblical Magi along with Caspar and Balthazar who visited the infant Jesus after he was born. Melchior was often referred to as the oldest member of the Magi. He was traditionally called the King of Persia and brought the gift of gold to Jesus. In the Western Christian church, he is regarded as a saint (as are the other two Magi).

Michael of Synnada

Michael of Synnada (Michael the Confessor) (died 818) was a bishop of Synnada from 784. He represented Byzantium in diplomatic missions to Harun al-Rashid and Charlemagne. He was exiled by Emperor Leo V the Armenian because of his opposition to iconoclasm. Honored by the Orthodox and Roman Catholic churches, his feast day is May 23.

Military saint

The military saints or warrior saints (also called soldier saints) of the Early Christian Church are

Christian saints who were soldiers in the Roman Army during the persecution of Christians, especially the Diocletian persecution of AD 303–313.

Most were soldiers of the Empire who had become Christian and, after refusing to participate in rituals of loyalty to the Emperor (see Imperial cult), were subjected to corporal punishment including torture and martyrdom.

Veneration of these saints, most notably of Saint George, was reinforced in Western tradition during the time of the Crusades.

The title of "champion of Christ" (athleta Christi) was originally used for these saints, but in the late medieval period also conferred on contemporary rulers by the Pope.

Our Lady of Laus

Our Lady of Laus (French: Notre-Dame du Laus) or Refuge of Sinners denotes Marian apparitions that took place between 1664 and 1718 in Saint-Étienne-le-Laus, France, to Benoite Rencurel, a young shepherdess. They were approved by the Holy See on May 5, 2008.


Silas or Silvanus (; Greek: Σίλας/Σιλουανός; fl. 1st century AD) was a leading member of the Early Christian community, who accompanied Paul the Apostle on parts of his first and second missionary journeys.

Virgin (title)

The title Virgin (Latin Virgo, Greek Παρθένος) is an honorific bestowed on female saints and blesseds in both the Eastern Orthodox Church and the Roman Catholic Church.

Chastity is one of the seven virtues in Christian tradition, listed by Pope Gregory I at the end of the 6th century. In 1 Corinthians, Saint Paul suggests a special role for virgins or unmarried women (ἡ γυνὴ καὶ ἡ παρθένος ἡ ἄγαμος) as more suitable for "the things of the Lord" (μεριμνᾷ τὰ τοῦ κυρίου).

In 2 Corinthians 11:2, Paul alludes to the metaphor of the Church as Bride of Christ by addressing the congregation

"I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ".

In the theology of the Church Fathers, the prototype of the sacred virgin is Mary, the mother of Jesus, consecrated by the Holy Spirit at Annunciation.

Although not stated in the gospels, the perpetual virginity of Mary was widely upheld as a dogma by the Church Fathers from the 4th century.

Zechariah (Hebrew prophet)

Zechariah was a person in the Hebrew Bible and traditionally considered the author of the Book of Zechariah, the eleventh of the Twelve Minor Prophets. He was a prophet of the Kingdom of Judah, and, like the prophet Ezekiel, was of priestly extraction.

Virgin Mary
See also

This page is based on a Wikipedia article written by authors (here).
Text is available under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license; additional terms may apply.
Images, videos and audio are available under their respective licenses.