Vietnamese Martyrs

The Vietnamese Martyrs (Vietnamese: Các Thánh Tử đạo Việt Nam), also known as the Martyrs of Indochina, Martyrs of Tonkin, Annam, and Cochinchina, or Andrew Dung-Lac and Companions (Anrê Dũng-Lạc và Các bạn tử đạo), are saints on the General Roman Calendar who were canonized by Pope John Paul II. On June 19, 1988, thousands of Overseas Vietnamese worldwide gathered at the Vatican for the Celebration of the Canonization of 117 Vietnamese Martyrs, an event chaired by Monsignor Tran Van Hoai. Their memorial is on November 24 (although several of these saints have another memorial, as they were beatified and on the calendar prior to the canonization of the group).

Martyrs of Vietnam
Martyrs of Vietnam
Died1745–1862, Vietnam
Venerated inCatholic Church
CanonizedJune 19, 1988, Vatican City, by Pope John Paul II
FeastNovember 24


The Vatican estimates the number of Vietnamese martyrs at between 130,000 and 300,000. John Paul II decided to canonize those whose names are known and unknown, giving them a single feast day.

The Vietnamese Martyrs fall into several groupings, those of the Dominican and Jesuit missionary era of the 18th century and those killed in the politically inspired persecutions of the 19th century. A representative sample of only 117 martyrs—including 96 Vietnamese, 11 Spanish Dominicans, and 10 French members of the Paris Foreign Missions Society (Missions Etrangères de Paris (MEP))—were beatified on four separate occasions: 64 by Pope Leo XIII on May 27, 1900; eight by Pope Pius X on May 20, 1906; 20 by Pope Pius X on May 2, 1909; and 25 by Pope Pius XII on April 29, 1951. All these 117 Vietnamese Martyrs were canonized on June 19, 1988. A young Vietnamese Martyr, Andrew Phú Yên, was beatified in March, 2000 by Pope John Paul II.

Vietnam martyrs Paul Mi Pierre Duong Pierre Truat 18 December 1838
Vietnamese martyrs Paul Mi, Pierre Duong, Pierre Truat, martyred on 18 December 1838.

The tortures these individuals underwent are considered by the Vatican to be among the worst in the history of Christian martyrdom. The torturers hacked off limbs joint by joint, tore flesh with red hot tongs, and used drugs to enslave the minds of the victims. Christians at the time were branded on the face with the words "tả đạo" (, lit. "Left (Sinister) religion")[1] and families and villages which subscribed to Christianity were obliterated.[2]

The letters and example of Théophane Vénard inspired the young Saint Thérèse of Lisieux to volunteer for the Carmelite nunnery at Hanoi, though she ultimately contracted tuberculosis and could not go. In 1865 Vénard's body was transferred to his Congregation's church in Paris, but his head remains in Vietnam.[3]

There are several Catholic parishes in the United States, Canada, and elsewhere dedicated to the Martyrs of Vietnam (Holy Martyrs of Vietnam Parishes), one of which is located in Arlington, Texas in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.[4] Others can be found in Houston, Austin, Texas,[5] Denver, Seattle, San Antonio,[6] Arlington, Virginia, and Richmond, Virginia. There are also churches named after individual saints, such as St. Philippe Minh Church in Saint Boniface, Manitoba.[7]

The Nguyen Campaign against Catholicism in the 19th century

The Catholic Church in Vietnam was devastated during the Tây Sơn rebellion in the late 18th century. During the turmoil, the missions revived, however, as a result of cooperation between the French Vicar Apostolic Pigneaux de Behaine and Nguyen Anh. After Nguyen's victory in 1802, in gratitude to assistance received, he ensured protection to missionary activities. However, only a few years into the new emperor's reign, there was growing antipathy among officials against Catholicism and missionaries reported that it was purely for political reasons that their presence was tolerated.[8] Tolerance continued until the death of the emperor and the new emperor Minh Mang succeeding to the throne in 1820.

Converts began to be harassed without official edicts in the late 1820s, by local governments. In 1831 the emperor passed new laws on regulations for religious groupings in Viet Nam, and Catholicism was then officially prohibited. In 1832, the first act occurred in a largely Catholic village near Hue, with the entire community being incarcerated and sent into exile in Cambodia. In January 1833 a new kingdom-wide edict was passed calling on Vietnamese subjects to reject the religion of Jesus and required suspected Catholics to demonstrate their renunciation by walking on a wooden cross. Actual violence against Catholics, however, did not occur until the Lê Văn Khôi revolt.[8]

During the rebellion, a young French missionary priest named Joseph Marchand was living in sickness in the rebel Gia Dinh citadel. In October 1833, an officer of the emperor reported to the court that a foreign Christian religious leader was present in the citadel. This news was used to justify the edicts against Catholicism, and led to the first executions of missionaries in over 40 years. The first executed was named Francois Gagelin. Marchand was captured and executed as a "rebel leader" in 1835; he was put to death by "slicing".[8] Further repressive measures were introduced in the wake of this episode in 1836. Prior to 1836, village heads had only to simply report to local mandarins about how their subjects had recanted Catholicism; after 1836, officials could visit villages and force all the villagers to line up one by one to trample on a cross and if a community was suspected of harbouring a missionary, militia could block off the village gates and perform a rigorous search; if a missionary was found, collective punishment could be meted out to the entire community.[8]

Missionaries and Catholic communities were able to sometimes escape this through bribery of officials; they were also sometimes victims of extortion attempts by people who demanded money under the threat that they would report the villages and missionaries to the authorities.[8] The missionary Father Pierre Duclos said:

with gold bars murder and theft blossom among honest people.[8]

The court became more aware of the problem of the failure to enforce the laws and applied greater pressure on its officials to act; officials that failed to act or those tho who were seen to be acting too slowly were demoted or removed from office (and sometimes were given severe corporal punishment), while those who attacked and killed the Christians could receive promotion or other rewards. Lower officials or younger family members of officials were sometimes tasked with secretly going through villages to report on hidden missionaries or Catholics that had not apostasied.[8]

The first missionary arrested during this (and later executed) was the priest Jean-Charles Cornay in 1837. A military campaign was conducted in Nam Dinh after letters were discovered in a shipwrecked vessel bound for Macao. Quang Tri and Quang Binh officials captured several priests along with the French missionary Bishop Pierre Dumoulin-Borie in 1838 (who was executed). The court translator, Francois Jaccard, a Catholic who had been kept as a prisoner for years and was extremely valuable to the court, was executed in late 1838; the official who was tasked with this execution, however, was almost immediately dismissed.[8]

A priest, Father Ignatius Delgado, was captured in the village of Can Lao (Nam Định Province), put in a cage on public display for ridicule and abuse, and died of hunger and exposure while waiting for execution; [1] the officer and soldiers that captured him were greatly rewarded (about 3 kg of silver was distributed out to all of them), as were the villagers that had helped to turn him over to the authorities.[8] The bishop Dominic Henares was found in Giao Thuy district of Nam Dinh (later executed); the villagers and soldiers that participated in his arrest were also greatly rewarded (about 3 kg of silver distributed). The priest, Father Joseph Fernandez, and a local priest, Nguyen Ba Tuan, were captured in Kim Song, Nam Dinh; the provincial officials were promoted, the peasants who turned them over were given about 3 kg of silver and other rewards were distributed. In July 1838, a demoted governor attempting to win back his place did so successfully by capturing the priest Father Dang Dinh Vien in Yen Dung, Bac Ninh province. (Vien was executed). In 1839, the same official captured two more priests: Father Dinh Viet Du and Father Nguyen Van Xuyen (also both executed).[8]

In Nhu Ly near Hue, an elderly catholic doctor named Simon Hoa was captured and executed. He had been sheltering a missionary named Charles Delamotte, whom the villagers had pleaded with him to send away. The village was also supposed to erect a shrine for the state-cult, which the doctor also opposed. His status and age protected him from being arrested until 1840, when he was put on trial and the judge pleaded (due to his status in Vietnamese society as both an elder and a doctor) with him to publicly recant; when he refused he was publicly executed.[8]

A peculiar episode occurred in late 1839, when a village in Quang Ngai province called Phuoc Lam was victimized by four men who extorted cash from the villagers under threat of reporting the Christian presence to the authorities. The governor of the province had a Catholic nephew who told him about what happened, and the governor then found the four men (caught smoking opium) and had two executed as well as two exiled. When a Catholic lay leader then came to the governor to offer their gratitude (thus perhaps exposing what the governor had done), the governor told him that those who had come to die for their religion should now prepare themselves and leave something for their wives and children; when news of the whole episode came out, the governor was removed from office for incompetence.[8]

Many officials preferred to avoid execution because of the threat to social order and harmony it represented, and resorted to use of threats or torture in order to force Catholics to recant. Many villagers were executed alongside priests according to mission reports. The emperor died in 1841, and this offered respite for Catholics. However, some persecution still continued after the new emperor took office. Catholic villages were forced to build shrines to the state cult. The missionary Father Pierre Duclos (quoted above) died in prison in after being captured on the Saigon river in June 1846. The boat he was traveling in, unfortunately contained the money that was set for the annual bribes of various officials (up to 1/3 of the annual donated French mission budget for Cochinchina was officially allocated to 'special needs') in order to prevent more arrests and persecutions of the converts; therefore, after his arrest, the officials then began wide searches and cracked down on the catholic communities in their jurisdictions. The amount of money that the French mission societies were able to raise, made the missionaries a lucrative target for officials that wanted cash, which could even surpass what the imperial court was offering in rewards. This created a cycle of extortion and bribery which lasted for years.[8]

List of Vietnamese Martyrs

Those whose names are known are listed below:

Please keep in mind that these are the anglicized versions of their names

  • Andrew Dung-Lac An Tran
  • Augustin Schoeffler, MEP, a priest from France
  • Agnes Le Thi Thanh
  • Bernard Vũ Văn Duệ
  • Emmanuel Trieu Van Nguyen
  • Francis Chieu Van Do
  • Francis Gil de Frederich|Francesc (Francis) Gil de Federich, OP, a priest from Catalonia (Spain)
  • François-Isidore Gagelin, MEP, a priest from France
  • Francis Jaccard, MEP, a priest from France
  • Francis Trung Von Tran
  • Francis Nguyen
  • Ignatius Delgado y Cebrian, OP, a bishop from Spain
  • Jacinto (Hyacinth) Casteñeda, OP, a priest from Spain
  • James Nam
  • Jerome Hermosilla, OP, a bishop from Spain
  • John Baptist Con
  • John Charles Cornay, MEP, a priest from France
  • John Dat
  • John Hoan Trinh Doan
  • John Louis Bonnard, MEP, a priest from France
  • John Thanh Van Dinh
  • José María Díaz Sanjurjo, OP, a bishop from Spain
  • Joseph Canh Luang Hoang
  • Joseph Fernandez, OP, a priest from Spain
  • Joseph Hien Quang Do
  • Joseph Khang Duy Nguyen
  • Joseph Luu Van Nguyen
  • Joseph Marchand, MEP, a priest from France
  • Joseph Nghi Kim
  • Joseph Thi Dang Le
  • Joseph Uyen Dinh Nguyen
  • Joseph Vien Dinh Dang
  • Joseph Khang, a local doctor
  • Joseph Tuc
  • Joseph Tuan Van Tran
  • Lawrence Ngon
  • Lawrence Huong Van Nguyen
  • Luke Loan Ba Vu
  • Luke Thin Viet Pham
  • Martin Tho
  • Martin Tinh Duc Ta
  • Matthew Alonzo Leziniana, OP, a priest from Spain
  • Matthew Phuong Van Nguyen
  • Matthew Gam Van Le
  • Melchor García Sampedro, OP, a bishop from Spain
  • Michael Dinh-Hy Ho
  • Michael My Huy Nguyen
  • Nicholas Thé Duc Bui
  • Paul Hanh
  • Paul Khoan Khan Pham
  • Paul Loc Van Le
  • Paul Tinh Bao Le
  • Paul Tong Viet Buong
  • Paul Duong
  • Pere (Peter) Almató i Ribera, OP, a priest from Catalonia (Spain)
  • Peter Tuan
  • Peter Dung Van Dinh
  • Peter Da
  • Peter Duong Van Truong
  • Peter Francis Néron, MEP, a priest from France
  • Peter Hieu Van Nguyen
  • Peter Quy Cong Doan
  • Peter Thi Van Truong Pham
  • Peter Tuan Ba Nguyen, a fisherman
  • Peter Tuy Le
  • Peter Van Van Doan
  • Philip Minh Van Doan
  • Pierre Borie, MEP, a bishop from France
  • Simon Hoa Dac Phan
  • Stephen Theodore Cuenot, MEP, a bishop from France
  • Stephen Vinh
  • Théophane Vénard, MEP, a priest from France
  • Thomas De Van Nguyen
  • Thomas Du Viet Dinh
  • Thomas Thien Tran
  • Thomas Toan
  • Thomas Khuong
  • Valentine Berriochoa, OP, a bishop from the Basque Country
  • Vicente Liem de la Paz
  • Vincent Duong
  • Vincent Tuong, a local judge
  • Vincent Yen Do
Martyrdom of Joseph Marchand

Martyrdom of Joseph Marchand, 1835.

Matyrdom of Saint Pierre Borie 1838 Vietnam

Martyrdom of Saint Pierre Borie, 24 November 1838, Tonkin, Vietnam.

Jean-Charles Cornay

Martyrdom of Jean-Charles Cornay in 1837.

Jean-Theophane Venard

Théophane Vénard in chains, martyred in 1861.

The causes are being promoted

See also


  1. ^ Les Missions Etrangeres, p. 291
  2. ^ Attwater, Donald and Catherine Rachel John. The Penguin Dictionary of Saints. 3rd edition. New York: Penguin Books, 1993. ISBN 0-14-051312-4.
  3. ^ St. Andrew Dung-Lac and his 116 companions, Attwater dk, Farmer, Lodi, Butler, Den katolske kirke (Catholic Church in Norway)
  4. ^ Vietnamese Martyrs Catholic Church, Arlington, Texas (The Biggest Vietnamese Catholic Church In the United States)
  5. ^ Holy Vietnamese Martyrs Catholic Church, Yager Lane, Austin, TX
  6. ^ Vietnamese Martyrs Catholic Parish, Holbrook Rd, San Antonio, Texas
  7. ^ Archdiocese of Saint Boniface web-site, Parishes Chaplaincies and Stations, St. Philippe Minh Church, Winnipeg
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m Jacob Ramsay. "Extortion and Exploitation in the Nguyên Campaign against Catholicism in 1830s–1840s Vietnam". Journal of Southeast Asian Studies, Vol. 35, No. 2 (June 2004), pp. 311–328.


  • Les Missions Etrangères. Trois siecles et demi d'histoire et d'aventure en Asie, Editions Perrin, 2008, ISBN 978-2-262-02571-7
  • St. Andrew Dung-Lac & Martyrs, by Father Robert F. McNamara, Saints Alive and All God's Children Copyright 1980–2010 Rev. Robert F. McNamara and St. Thomas the Apostle Church.
  • Vietnamese Martyr Teaches Quiet Lessons, by Judy Ball, an Web site from the Franciscans and St. Anthony Messenger Press.

External links

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Great martyr

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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).

Joseph Fernandez

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Joseph Fernandez, one of the Vietnamese Martyrs

Joseph Marchand

Saint Joseph Marchand (August 17, 1803 – November 30, 1835) was a French missionary in Vietnam and a member of the Paris Foreign Missions Society. He is now a Roman Catholic saint, celebrated on the 30th of November.

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List of saints

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One list says there are 810 canonized Roman Catholic saints (who have been through the formal institutional process of canonization), although some give numbers in the thousands. (Pope John Paul II alone canonized 110 individuals, plus many group canonizations such as 110 martyr saints of China, 103 Korean martyrs, 117 Vietnamese martyrs, Mexican Martyrs, Spanish martyrs and French revolutionary martyrs.) Among the Eastern Orthodox and Oriental Orthodox Communions, the numbers may be even higher, since there is no fixed process of "canonization" and each individual jurisdiction within the two Orthodox communions independently maintains parallel lists of saints that have only partial overlap. Note that 78 popes are considered saints.The Anglican Communion recognizes pre-Reformation saints, as does the United Methodist Church. Persons who have led lives of celebrated sanctity or missionary zeal are included in the Calendar of the Prayer Book "without thereby enrolling or commending such persons as saints of the Church". Similarly, any individuals commemorated in the Lutheran calendar of saints will be listed as well.

Wikipedia contains calendars of saints for particular denominations, listed by the day of the year on which they are traditionally venerated, as well as a chronological list of saints and blesseds, listed by their date of death.

List of saints named Andrew

Saint Andrew commonly refers to Andrew the Apostle, the Christian apostle and brother of Peter, but may also refer to:

Saint Andrew Stratelates, d. 300

Saint Andrew Corsini (San Andrea Corsini), d. 1373

Saint Andrew of Constantinople, Orthodox Fool for Christ

Saint Andrew of Crete (c. 650 – c. 730), 8th century bishop, theologian, homilist and hymnographer

Saint Andrew of Crete (martyr), a martyr

Saint Andrew of Lampsacus, d. 250 AD, martyred with Paul, Denise, and Peter

Saint Andrew Dũng-Lạc, Vietnamese martyr

also Andrew Thong Kim Nguyen, Andrew Trong Van Tram, and Andrew Tuong of the Vietnamese Martyrs

Saint Andrew Kim Taegon of the Korean Martyrs

Saint Andrew the Scot

Saint Andrew Avellino

Saint Andrew Bobola, Polish jesuit, missionary and martyr

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Michael Hồ Đình Hy

Michael Hồ Đình Hy (胡廷僖; 1808 – May 22, 1857) was a Vietnamese mandarin official who was martyred for his Roman Catholic belief during the persecutions by Emperor Tự Đức. He was canonized in 1988 along with another 116 Vietnamese Martyrs.

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.

Pierre Dumoulin-Borie

Pierre-Rose-Ursule Dumoulin-Borie (20 February 1808 – 24 November 1838) was a French Catholic missionary priest and a member of the Paris Foreign Missions Society. He is a Catholic saint, canonized in 1988 along with other Vietnamese Martyrs.

Sherman, Texas bus accident

A bus chartered by Vietnamese pilgrims crashed in Texas on Friday 8 August 2008, killing at least 17 people and injuring dozens more, police said. The bus, carrying 55 people, drove off an overpass bridge of northbound U.S. 75 shortly after midnight and crashed near the town of Sherman, Texas, some 64 miles (103 kilometers) north of Dallas.Sherman police said a blown tire on the bus may have caused the driver to lose control. Local media said that the group was from the Vietnamese Martyrs' Church, Our Lady of Lavang, and Our Lady of Lourdes of Houston, Texas. The bus was one of three buses carrying Vietnamese Catholics on their way to the annual Marian Days celebration in Carthage, Missouri in honor of the Virgin Mary. The bus tire was apparently recapped; the bus charter company had a history of safety violations, and the driver had a criminal record. The bus owner was identified as Iguala BusMex Inc.

Following the crash, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration temporarily stopped issuing new bus company licenses.The bus did not have seat belts. Some people have called for mandatory seat belts and safety glass in highway coaches.


Places with the Vietnamese syllable Xuyên in them include:

Bình Xuyên District, rural district (huyện) of Vĩnh Phúc Province, Vietnam

Cẩm Xuyên District, rural district (huyện) of Hà Tĩnh Province, Vietnam

Duy Xuyên District, district (huyện) of Quảng Nam Province, Vietnam

Long Xuyên, capital city of An Giang Province, Vietnam

Roman Catholic Diocese of Long Xuyên, Roman Catholic diocese of Vietnam

Mỹ Xuyên District, rural district (huyện) of Sóc Trăng Province, Vietnam

Phú Xuyên District, district (huyện) of Hà Tây Province, Vietnam

Quảng Xuyên, former district of South Vietnam

Vị Xuyên District is a district (huyện) of Hà Giang Province, Vietnam

Xuyên Mộc, commune (xã) and village in Xuyên Mộc District, Bà Rịa–Vũng Tàu Province, in Vietnam

Xuyên Mộc District, rural district (huyện) of Ba Ria–Vung Tau Province, VietnamPeople with the syllable Xuyên in their names include:

Dominic Xuyen Van Nguyen, one of the Vietnamese Martyrs of Tonkin, saints canonized by Pope John Paul II

Lý Tế Xuyên (fl. 1400s), Vietnamese historian

Nguyễn Trọng Xuyên (1926–2012), Vietnam People's Army general

Nguyễn Thị Xuyến (fl. 2010s), Vietnamese footballer

Virgin Mary
See also

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