Our Lady of Lavang
Empress of Viet Nam
The Holy Martyrs of Vietnam: A Legacy of Courage
        Christianity has had a long and often troubled history in Vietnam. However, as has happened all throughout history, all around the world, the blood shed by the martyrs at the hands of the Ly, Tay Son and Nguyen dynasties have strengthened the Church. Today, Vietnam is home to the second largest Catholic population in East Asia. Few people are aware of these martyrs, most of whom were canonized in 1988 by Pope John Paul II. These people were priests, bishops, laity, soldiers and officials in the Vietnamese government. Thousands were tortured and killed in several outbreaks of violence, mostly during the reigns of emperors Canh Thinh, Minh Mang and Tu Duc. Some of the most well-known examples of these Christian martyrs are listed below.
Saint Andrew Dung Lac

Saint Andrew Dung Lac An Tran was born around 1785 in Vietnam. He became a priest and worked with the Foreign Mission Society of Paris. During the reign of Emperor Minh Mang he was repeatedly arrested and tortured along with St. Peter Thi. On December 21, 1839 he was beheaded in Hanoi for being a Catholic priest. He was beatified in 1900 by Pope Leo XIII and canonized by John Paul II on June 19, 1988. His feast day is December 20, with his companions.
Saint Peter Thi Van Truong Pham

Saint Peter Thi was born in 1763 in Tonkin, northern Vietnam, and became a priest and worked with the Foreign Mission Society of Paris along with St. Andrew Dung-Lac. He was arrested along with his friend in Minh Mang's crack down against the Church and suffered extreme torture throughout his imprisonment. He was beheaded on December 21, 1839 and beatified and canonized at the same time as his friend. His feast day is also December 20.
Saint Joseph Khang

St. Joseph Kang was born in 1832 in Tra-vi, Nam Dinh province of Vietnam. A Dominican catechist, he worked alongside St. Jerome Hermosilla and tried to help him escape from prison. He was arrested, flogged and tortured before being executed in 1861 by Emperor Tu Duc. Canonized in 1988 by John Paul II, his feast day is November the Sixth.
Saint Joseph Yuan

St. Joseph Yuan was born in 1769 in Tonkin, Vietnam but was first listed among the martyrs of China. He was imprisoned for a year before being strangled for his faith in 1817 by the order of Emperor Gia Long who, by and large, tolerated Christianity. Canonized in 2000 by John Paul II, his feast day is on June 24 for Vietnam and 28 September for China.
         The first missionaries came to Vietnam in the 16th Century and included many famous and holy individuals such as Jesuit Fr. Alexandre du Rhodes, the "Francis Xavier of Indochina" who invented the modern Vietnamese alphabet. Yet, through mistakes, misunderstanding, mistrust and simple xenophobia many thousands were martyred for their faith during the late Le, Tay Son and early Nguyen dynasties. Missionary work continued until 1866 but the Vietnamese state did not finally recognize Christianity until the reign of Emperor Dong Khanh in the 19th Century. A period of peace ensued until the chaotic time of the August Revolution when the Communist Party seized power. Throughout the 20th Century persecution of Christians in Viet Nam has continued and the Communist government refuses to recognize the complete freedom of the Church.
Saint Joseph Canh

Born in 1765 in Vietnam, St. Joseph Canh joined the Dominican order as a physician. He was beheaded in 1838 by Minh Mang. His feast day is September 5. He was canonized in 1988.
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