The Lives of the 103 Korean Martyr Saints
The Lives of the 103 Martyr Saints of Korea
35. Saint Pierre Philibert Maubant, Priest(1803-1839)
Father Maubant was born in 1803 in Vassy, France. After being ordained a priest, he entered the Paris Foreign Mission Society in 1831. He was sent to China where he volunteered to go to Korea.
He became the first French missionary to enter Korea. In 1836, disguised as a mourner, he crossed the Uiju border through a ditch and safely arrived at Seoul 15 days later .
He always traveled in a mourning costume which covered his whole body. He heard confessions of the Catholics in Chinese writing or through interpreters. He and Fr. Chastan, who came to Korea after him, had to endure the difficult and unfamiliar environment of the country, staying in tiny mud huts and eating poor food. He finally fell seriously ill and received the last rites from Fr. Chastan. His illness was miraculously cured three months later.
Fr. Maubant and Fr. Chastan calculated the number of the Catholics to be about 6,000. The two missionaries established mission stations, mostly in remote places in the mountains, and visited them frequently. In each mission station a catechist was named. In 1837 alone, they baptized 1,237, heard 2,087 confessions, and distributed Holy Communion to 1,950.
Fr. Maubant felt it necessary to have native priests, so at the end of 1836 he selected three young boys - Francis Xavier Choe Pangje, Andrew Kim Taegon, Thomas Choe Yangeop - as seminarians. He taught them Latin, and then sent them to Macao. The young seminarians arrived at Macao after eight months' travel through Manchuria, Mongolia and China. They studied at the Procure of the Paris Foreign Mission Society in Macao.
Foreign missionaries' presence became known to many people and government officials. The Korean government arrested and tortured many Catholics to find out where the missionaries were staying. Bishop Imbert thought it would be better for the missionaries to give themselves up to minimize trouble for the Catholics. He ordered Fr. Maubant and Fr. Chastan to give themselves up.
Fr. Maubant and Fr. Chastan made a final report to the Holy See: Catholics: 10,000; Baptisms: 1,200; Confirmations: 2,500; Confessions: 4,500; Holy Communions: 4,000; Marriages: 150; Extreme Unctions: 60; Catechumens: 600. Then they surrendered themselves to the government officials in Hongju. All three French missionaries were sentenced to death and were beheaded at Saenamteo by the Han River on September 21, 1839. Fr. Maubant was 35 years old. Their bodies were buried in Samsongsan Mountain and later transferred to the grotto of Myongdong Cathedral of Seoul.
36. Saint Damian Nam Myong-hyok (1802-1839)
Damian Nam Myong-hyok was born in 1802 to a noble family. He led a prodigal life with bad companions when he was young. When he was about 30, he learned of the Catholic religion and began to practice it. When the Chinese priest Father Pacificus Yu Pang-je came to Korea, Damian was baptized by him.
He became a catechist and taught people in his house. He took care of neighbors and sick people and tried to baptize pagan children in danger of death. People respected him. One day someone asked him what he wanted to be called in the everlasting life. Damian said: "I would like to be called Damian Nam the martyr and a member of the Holy Scapular Society."
In early 1839, the persecution started. At the accusation of an ill-natured catechumen, 53 Catholics were exposed, particularly catechists Yi Augustine and Nam Damian. They were arrested immediately with their families. Bishop Imbert's vestments, mitre and breviary, which Damian had been in charge of, fell into the hands of the captors.
Damian was more severely interrogated because of the bishops' possessions. Damian told the police chief that the religious articles belonged to Fr. Zhou Wen-mo, who had been martyred in 1801, not to the French missionary bishop. The police chief knew that Damian was telling a lie, but pretended to believe what Damian told him, because he was inwardly afraid of the magnitude of possible trouble that might arise if he arrested the foreigner.
The police chief interrogated Damian more severely in order to intimidate others.
"You gave false testimony. The bishop's vestments and mitre are fairly new. How can you say that those things belonged to a man who died 40 years ago?"
Since Damian refused to deny his religion and reveal the names of other Catholics, he was severely tortured. His bones were broken. He was so severely beaten that he was unconscious for four days. But thanks to God he recovered consciousness.
After Damian was sentenced to death, he wrote a letter to his wife in prison. "This world is nothing but an inn we pass through. Our real home is Heaven. Follow me and become a martyr. I wish we could meet again in the kingdom of eternal glory," the letter said.
On Friday, May 24, 1839, Damian was taken outside the Small West Gate and beheaded with eight other Catholics. Damian never ceased praying until his head was cut off, according to a witness. Damian was 38 years old when he was so gloriously martyred.