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CBCK Newsletter No.43(Summer 2003)
Index
The Lives of the 103 Korean Martyr Saints
The Lives of the 103 Korean Martyr Saints (26)(2)

Saint Kim Hyo-im Columba (1814-1839)

Saint Kim Hyo-ju Agnes (1816-1839)

   The magistrate began his interrogation. First he asked them about their celibate life. "You are now of adult age, why are you not married?"
    Kim Hyo-im Columba replied: "We wish to keep our minds and bodies completely pure so that we can serve God faithfully and give Him even greater joy." Agnes gave the same response. The magistrate tried to use it against them. He thought that if they experienced insults and indignities disgraceful to them as virgins they would give in and renounce their faith.
    He gave them over to some of the rougher guards with instructions to humiliate them further by making them dance the 'crane dance." This punishment consisted of stripping the prisoner tying his two hands behind his back, placing ropes between his arms and suspending him in a public place. Then four guards in turn whipped the prisoner with canes made from bamboo. After a few minutes foam would come out of the prisoner's mouth, his tongue would protrude and the color of his face would become dark blue. If he was not quickly lowered to the ground he would soon die. For women it was a particularly brutal torture.
    The two sisters were dragged to a secluded cell, stripped of their clothes and tortured in that way. The coarse guards lost any sense of mercy and cut them down only when they were on the brink of death to give them a rest so that they could raise them up again and continue the cruelty. Despite the pain and insults Hyo-im Columba and Hyo-ju Agnes never lost their courage and never uttered a sound.
    When the magistrate saw that even the 'crane dance' was not enough to make them change their minds he thought of an even more evil scheme. He decided to destroy the young women's virginity. If the virginity which they offered to God was soiled they might become discouraged and renounce their faith. He had their clothes removed and put them in among the male criminals. However God protected them there and for two days they survived unharmed among men who were accustomed to every sort of evil.
    It was as if the Spirit covered them with His power. The men in the cell seemed to recognize some mysterious power in them and left them untouched. Eventually the guards returned their clothes to them and put them back in the cell with the other women. They were sent to the Ministry of Justice. The chief judge interrogated them.
   "Is there no other way of practicing virtue and doing good besides entering the Catholic Church?"
    Kim Hyo-im Columba answered distinctly:
   "No, there is no other way."
   "Don't you think Confucius and Mencius are sages then?"
   "They are sages but only of this world."
Towards the end Kim Hyo-im Columba said, "A chief judge is said to be a father to the people. Therefore I would like to tell you what is on my mind. Please give me permission."
   The chief allowed her to speak. Kim Hyo-im Columba then related what had happened to her sister and herself while they were in jail.
   "Whether she is the daughter of a noble or a commoner, the chastity of a young woman has the right to be respected. If you want to kill me according to the law of the country, I will willingly accept the punishment. However I do not think it is right to have to suffer insults that are not part of the law and I object to them."
   The chief judge was astonished at what she had to say and stated, "The chastity of this woman is as precious as a white jade. What kind of savages insulted her?" He ordered that the incident be investigated and the report sent to the Ministry of Justice.
   The two sisters were brought from the court to be beaten and to receive further interrogation. Their inquisitors demanded them to reveal the whereabouts of other Catholics and their brother Anthony in particular. They refused to answer and by this chose the road of martyrdom.
   On September 3, 1839, Kim Hyo-ju Agnes was beheaded outside the Small West Gate of Seoul with five other Catholics. Agnes was 24 years old.
On September 26, Kim Hyo-im Columba was beheaded at the same place with eight other Catholics. Columba was 26 years old.
   The two sisters were canonized on May 6, 1984 at Yoido, Seoul, by Pope John Paul II.

No. subject Date eBook
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36   CBCK Newsletter No.57 (Winter 2006)   2007-01-15
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