The Lives of the 103 Martyr Saints of Korea
Saint Kwon Tug-in Peter (1805~1839)
Kwon Tug-in Peter was born in 1805 in Seoul, to a Catholic family. When he was a child, he lost his father. His mother, who had been a devout Catholic, died when he was 16 years old. His mother's good example made him a wonderful Catholic. He used to get up even before the first cock crows and pray until daybreak. He was known to be kind to everybody.
After his mother died, he married. He first worked at his brother's herb shop, but later he had a small business for his livelihood. He was poor, but he did not complain. After he moved to another place, he made crucifixes and holy medals not only for his livelihood but also for church expenses.
When the persecution started in 1839, he was arrested with his family on January 16. Peter showed his rosary to the captors in order to tell them that he and his family were all Catholics. Thus they became the first family to be arrested during the persecution of 1839. Bishop Imbert, who was near Suwon, was informed about the arrest and returned to Seoul to console and encourage the discouraged Catholics.
They were investigated and tortured in various ways. Peter's wife and his brother-in-law, who could not endure the tortures, denied their faith and were released. Peter, who was still in prison, wrote them to change their minds. According to the testimony of his daughter-in-law, Yi Agatha, his wife acknowledged the mistake of her apostasy and repented.
Peter was very severely interrogated by the police chief.
"Why do you believe the Catholic religion?"
"We all must thank God, who is the Creator of angels, men and all things that exist on earth. Everybody must worship Him."
"Reveal the names of your fellow Catholics."
"I cannot do it because my religion teaches not to do any harm to others."
Peter was tortured severely, and the police chief ordered Peter's fellow inmates to beat him. They beat Peter so badly that he was almost dead twice. According to a record of the Criminal Court, one of the reasons for his death sentence was the fact that Peter made and sold religious articles.
Peter was finally beheaded outside the Small West Gate on May 24, 1839, at the age of 35, with eight other Catholics. It is said that his face had a mysterious smile even after his head was cut off.
Saint Chang Song-jip Joseph (1786~1839)
Chang Song-jip Joseph was born to a pagan family in Seoul. He worked at a herb shop. He married twice, but lost his wives early. At the age of 30 he began to study the catechism. But Joseph could not believe the doctrines of the Incarnation and the virgin birth. He could not believe that God humbled Himself to become a man for the love of mankind.
Unable to solve the problem of doubt, Joseph abandoned the study of the Catholic religion, and was interested only in making money. However, one of his friends was a Catholic, and he persuaded Joseph to return to God. Joseph repented his past fault. He indulged himself in prayer, meditation and scripture readings. He abstained from meeting his friends and lived a solitary life. His friends asked him why he did not do business. He used to reply that he would rather suffer hunger and cold for the sake of God and everlasting happiness than have worldly wealth.
Joseph was baptized and confirmed on the same day in April 1838. When he heard about the courageous martyrs, he was moved so deeply that he wanted to give himself up to the government authorities, but his godfather stopped him from surrendering himself.
He was actually arrested on May 18. Many of his neighbors, friends and captors urged him to deny his religion. On the contrary, he taught them the Catholic doctrine. He taught that one had to love God, Who created everything on earth and would send good men to Heaven and bad men to Hell.
The police chief finally sent him to the higher court. Since he was not immediately interrogated, Joseph demanded to know why they left him alone without interrogations and tortures. He was misunderstood as a crazy man and was sent back to prison. Joseph did not obey the police chief, who was demanding that he deny God. He was beaten with a cudgel at least 20 times and sent back to prison. A few days later, on May 26, 1839, he died in prison in Seoul. He was 54 years old at the time.