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Feast of Chinese Martyrs Celebrated

Christians in China celebrated on July 9th the feast day of Chinese Martyrs, 120 people persecuted for their faith and killed between 1648 and 1930. Of the group of martyrs, 87 were Chinese laypeople and 33 were missionaries, reports National Catholic Register.

More than half of the Martyrs died during the Boxer Rebellion, a violent, anti-Christian, anti-Western movement between 1899 and 1901 that killed Catholic, Evangelical and Anglican missionaries, and even Europeans and Americans. The Boxer Rebellion blamed foreigners for every misfortune that took place in China, and Christians were the first to suffer.

The martyred missionaries were mostly priests and included members of the Order of Preachers, Friars Minor, Jesuits, Salesians and Franciscan Missionaries of Mary.

One of the well-known native martyr was Ann Wang, a 14-year-old girl who refused to apostasize. She held firm to her faith despite the tortures and threats from her captors. Before her beheading, she shouted, “The door of heaven is open to all” and repeated the name of Jesus three times.

Another native martyr was Chi Zhuzi, 18, who was preparing to be baptized when he was caught and forced to worship idols. When he refused, his right arm was cut off and he was tortured. He told his captors, “Every piece of my flesh, every drop of my blood will tell you that I am Christian.” He was flayed alive.

Aside from commemorating the lives of the 120 Martyrs, the feast was an opportunity to pray for Christians who are persecuted in China. The communist country is number 17 in Open Doors’ World Watch List, following the “Sinicization” policy implemented across the nation. Beijing has closed churches, arrested Christians, has monitored believers, and even has plans to rewrite Scripture. At present, Catholic convert and Hong Kong media tycoon Jimmy Lai has been sentenced to 14 months in prison for pro-democracy rallies, and Catholic leader Joseph Cheng is in exile in Australia to avoid prosecution.

“The government has orchestrated a campaign to ‘sinicize’ Christianity, to turn Christianity into a fully domesticated religion that would do the bidding of the party,” said Lian Xi, a professor at Duke University in North Carolina, who focuses on Christianity in modern China.

China is an atheist country, but recognizes five faiths, including Protestantism and Catholicism. According to an article in The Guardian, there are at least 60 million Christians in the Asian country.

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