The Lives of the 103 Korean Martyr Saints
The Lives of the 103 Martyr Saints of Korea
Saint Pierre Aumaître, the Priest (1837-1866)
Pierre Aumaître was born on April 8, 1837, in the small village of Angoulême, as the first of five brothers. His father was a small farmer and shoemaker. He and his wife were devout Catholics. Young Pierre was a very good boy, but not so intelligent and had a poor memory.
Pierre wanted to be a priest, but his pastor thought he could not make it. In the meantime the pastor was changed. The new pastor refused to teach him Latin. But Pierre went to a lay teacher living four kilometers away to study Latin. Every morning Pierre ran to his Latin teacher. The pastor admired Pierre's diligence, and recommended to the bishop that he be admitted to the minor seminary in Richemont in 1852. Although his memory was poor, he studied hard and became one of the best students. He had a strong will.
Pierre entered the major seminary in Angoulême in 1857. Even his superiors admired his exemplary life. His obedience was complete. When he was in the first year of philosophy, he told his spiritual director that he wanted to be a missionary. In 1859 he was admitted to the seminary of the Paris Foreign Mission Society. After three years of studies and spiritual training there, Pierre was ordained a priest in June 1862. He arrived in Korea on June 23, 1863.
He first stayed in Saemgol to study the Korean language, and later moved to Naepo near the place where Bishop Daveluy was staying. All the Catholics loved Father Aumaître and admired his goodness and kindness. Bishop Berneux once wrote about him, saying, "This little priest is working little miracles, and excellently teaching his people devotion to the Eucharist and Mary."
When the persecution began, Father Aumaître told his people that it was time to profess the Catholic faith publicly to non-Catholics. He went to the village of Bishop Daveluy and surrendered himself there to the police. He was sent to Hongju first together with Bishop Daveluy and Father Huin and then to the Seoul prison. They endured severe interrogations and tortures. Father Aumaître was beheaded, right after Bishop Daveluy, in Galmaemot on March 30, 1866. His age was 29. Father Aumaître gave encouragement to others while he was being executed. It has been said their bodies were not corrupted until their burial and that they had gentle smiles on their face.
Saint Martin Luc Huin, the Priest (1836-1866)
Martin Luc Huin was born in Guyonville, France, on October 20, 1836, the youngest of nine children. He was usually called just Luc. His parents were devout vineyard farmers. His father was proud of his family tradition that had priests in every generation. His mother was an equally devout woman. His pastor was also very interested in Luc's priestly vocation so taught him Latin even before he entered seminary. In 1851 he became a seminarian and his academic achievements were highly esteemed. The discipline of his life was also excellent. His only defect was his extreme sensitivity.
From the time Luc received sacred orders, he was thinking of becoming a missionary. After he entered the major seminary near his home, he heard many missionary bishops speak about the foreign missions. His desire to become a missionary became stronger. But the fact that his house was destroyed by fire slowed down his desire to become a missionary. The problem with Luc was that he was too attached to his family.
Luc was ordained a priest on June 29, 1861. He was very successful in his work as an assistant pastor, but his desire to become a missionary did not vanish. He sent a letter to his bishop asking to be released to become a missionary. The bishop gave him permission but told him to wait until June 1863, when his replacement would arrive.
In June 1863, Father Huin obtained permission to join the Paris Foreign Mission Society. He joined the Society in August 1863 and was assigned to Korea in June 1864. He left Paris on July 15, 1864, with nine other missionary priests. He and Fathers De Bretenières, Beaulieu and Dorie arrived at Naepo, Korea on May 27, 1865, after a long, tiring voyage. Father Huin stayed in Naepo with Bishop Daveluy until June 18, and then he went to Sekori in Haptok. Father Huin was quickly accustomed to the Korean way of life. He was willing to make any sacrifices. He learned the Korean language so fast that he could already hear confessions and teach catechism in Korean by February 1866. The Korean Catholics were very happy to have him around. Father Huin heard more than 500 confessions, administered Extreme Unction to about 20 Catholics, and even performed the sacrament of matrimony for some couples. Before he was martyred, he said, "I am sorry to die, neither because I am still young nor because I have to die so miserably, but because I have to die having done nothing for the salvation of my dear Korean people."
Father Huin was arrested on March 12, 1866, and was sent to the Seoul prison with Bishop Daveluy and Father Aumaître on March 19. He was severely interrogated and tortured in Seoul. Then, with Bishop Daveluy and Father Aumaître, he was transferred to Galmaemot. Following Bishop Daveluy and Father Aumaître, Father Huin was beheaded at last on March 30, 1866. He was 30 years old.