During his visit to Korea in two weeks, Pope Francis is to beatify Paul Yun Ji-chung, the nation's first martyr, as well as 123 companions who were killed for the faith in the 19th century, reports EWTN News/Ucanews.
The Pontiff will be in South Korea from August 14-18, visiting the shrine of the martyrs of Seo So-mun in the morning of August 16. Later that day, he will travel to Seoul's Door of Gwanghwamun to say Mass and beatify Paul Yun Ji-chung and his companions.
Unlike China or Japan, Catholicism in Korea was not introduced by a colonial or foreign power. Korean scholars learned at the beginning of the 17th century about the teachings of the Gospel, which were spreading in China, and undertook travels to the Jesuit missionaries there in order to study it.
They returned to their country to promote the faith, and it spread so quickly that only a few decades later, when a Chinese priest managed to enter the country, he found a well-established, though ostracised, group of Catholics numbering in the thousands.
Being a strictly hierarchical society made up by privileged scholars and nobility on the one hand, and commoners and slaves on the other, Christianity was seen by the authorities as dangerous heterodoxy to the political system of Confucianism, and as a religion that intended a social revolution.
Authorities tried to prevent the faith from spreading by prohibiting Catholic books, then available in both Korean and Chinese. Widespread, violent persecution occurred in several spurts thoughout the 19th century, with more than 10,000 persons martyred. The first of these persecutions occurred in 1791.
FULL STORY Pope to beatify 124 Korean martyrs