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Remembering St. Andrew Kim Taegon On His 200th Birth Anniversary

St. Andrew Kim Taegon was only 25 years old when he was martyred.

Last Saturday, Pope Francis honored St. Andrew Kim Taegon on his 200th birth anniversary. Speaking to the Korean faithful in Rome, the Holy Father said in a video that the Korean saint “showed with joyful hope that good always prevails, because God’s love wins out over hatred.”

He added that St. Andrew Kim was a great example of “heroic faith” and that he was tireless in evangelization, despite difficult and challenging times. (Read: Bulacan Church Dedicated to Korean Saint Now a Diocesan Shrine)

In addition to the pope’s message, Archbishop Lazarus You Heung-sik, the new Prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy, celebrated Mass at the St. Peter’s Basilica for Koreans in Rome.

Living the Gospel’s ideals

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File photo of a 2014 Mass in Seoul to celebrate the Korean martyrs (Photo from Vatican News)

The archbishop recalled the saint’s short but well-lived life in his sermon. He shared that St. Andrew Kim was one of those who practiced their faith despite the persecution of Christians back in the day.

“St. Andrew Kim, and others of our forefathers, practiced what they believed even if they lived in a society dominated by a hierarchical social system,” Archbishop You Heung-sik said. He added that the saint was the epitome of living Jesus’s words and the Gospel’s ideals of human dignity and equality among people.

Following in the saint’s footsteps

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Photo from Nuestro Señor Jesucristo Parish – Diocesan Shrine of St. Andrew Kim Tae-gon Facebook

“It seems Providential to me that the bicentenary of Andrew Kim’s birth is celebrated right in the middle of the pandemic—which unfortunately seems to have accentuated our tendency to selfishness and discrimination within society,” the archbishop said. “So that the example of our Martyr might teach us the path with which we can deal with the current crisis,” he added. (Read: 4 Modern-Day Martyrs Whose Deaths Changed the World)

He further encouraged his fellow Koreans to follow St. Andrew Kim’s footsteps and pray for a world that is united. Archbishop You Heung-sik also asked that the Korean Catholic faithful “pursue the path of peace and reconciliation between North and South Korea.”

Young martyr

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Photo from Nuestro Señor Jesucristo Parish – Diocesan Shrine of St. Andrew Kim Tae-gon Facebook

St. Andrew Kim is the first Korean-born Catholic priest. He was a priest educated in Macau, handpicked by a French missionary. Upon his return to Korea–in the hopes of continuing his pastoral activity in his own country–the saint was arrested due to his faith.

“Are you a Catholic faithful?”–his 200th birth anniversary’s theme–is the question his interrogators asked him. His execution was finalized after he answered, “Yes, I am a Catholic.”

St. Andrew Kim was executed on September 16, 1846, during the Joseon dynasty’s persecution of Catholics. He was only 25 years old.

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