St. Andrew Dung Lac and the Vietnamese Martyrs

Today the Church honors 117 Christians who suffered and died for their faith in Vietnam since the 17th century—they stand as representatives for the hundreds of thousands who suffered for their faith in that nation.

The canonized group includes 96 people who were from Vietnam and 21 missionaries from Spain and France; eight were bishops, 50 were priests, and nearly 60 were lay people.

St. Andrew Dung-Lac was a diocesan priest—he was named Dung An Tran when he was born in 1795 in North Vietnam. When he was 12, he moved to Hanoi with his family so his parents could find work. A catechist there offered him food and shelter, and helped him receive an education. Dung was baptized, and chose the name Andrew—he became a catechist himself, teaching others the faith, and eventually was chosen to study for the priesthood. He was ordained in 1823, and was known as an effective preacher and a model of holiness for those he served.

When the emperor began persecuting Christians, Andrew was imprisoned several times, but released when his congregation purchased his freedom. Eventually, though, he was arrested, tortured, and beheaded.

Dominican and Jesuit missionaries were the first to suffer martyrdom in Vietnam—they brought the faith to that land in the 17th century. Since then Christians have suffered under political regimes that suspected the faith as foreign influence.

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