The Archdiocese of Seoul has opened three Holy Doors in as many shrines dedicated to the early martyrs of the Korean Catholic Church to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the beginning of the brutal anti-Christian persecution known as Byeong-in.
The decision is part of the year dedicated to memory of the martyrs proclaimed by the capital’s archbishop, Card Andrew Yeom Soo-jung. "Compared to the Catholics of 150 years ago, our faith today seems weaker,” said the prelate in his homily on Tuesday, the first day of the special year. “May the Lord help us follow the example of the martyrs.”
The great Byeong-in persecution began on 23 February 1866 when, alarmed by the Christian message, which preaches equality among men and contradicts Confucian teachings, Korea’s rulers ordered a nationwide crackdown on Catholics. About 9,000 people, roughly half of the Catholic community at the time, died a violent death by order of the king.
On the same day, 150 years later, the Holy Doors in the three Archdiocesan shrines dedicated to the memory of the martyrs were opened: the Jeoldusan mausoleum (pictured), Saenamteo shrine, and the Catholic church of Yakhyeon. According to the Archdiocese’s Communications Office, about 2,000 faithful took part in the opening ceremony at each site.
For his part, Archbishop Yeom opened the year dedicated to the martyrs’ memory at Myeongdong Cathedral, in the heart of the capital.“Compared to the Catholics of 150 years ago,” he said, “our faith today seems weaker despite all the religious freedom we have. This is why we must remember our ancestors of faith, who kept their beliefs even in the worst and most painful situations.”
For the prelate, “We cannot keep moving forward without reflecting on our past. May the Lord help us follow the example of the martyrs, and live a life of service to others.”