The Lives of the 103 Martyr Saints of Korea
Saint Yi Yong-hui Magdalene (1809~1839)
Yi Yong-hui Magdalene was born of a poor but noble family. Her mother, Ho Magdalene, her elder sister, Yi Barbara, and her aunt, Yi Theresa, were all fervent Catholics, but her father was a staunch pagan who hated the Catholics, so they had to practice their religion secretly. Her father tried to have Magdalene married to a pagan, but she wanted to live as a virgin and refused to abide by her father's wish. She decided to run away.
One day Magdalene told the young Catholic servant woman working at her home: "I hear that it is 12 kilometers from here to Seoul. My father is going to Seoul tomorrow. Please follow him, and I will follow you."
At night Magdalene put on old clothes and went out of her house carrying her usual clothes with her. The house was located in a forest. She went into the forest and cut herself enough to draw blood. She sprinkled her blood on the ground and on her clothes, which she ripped and scattered around the road. Early next morning her father left for Seoul, and the servant woman and Magdalene followed him. She went to her aunt, Yi Theresa. To her startled aunt, Magdalene told the whole story.
Meanwhile, in the country, her whole family tried to find Magdalene, who was missing. Her mother was very sad. One of Magdalene's uncles went into the forest and found traces of blood on the road and Magdalene's clothes stained with blood and all ripped. He rushed to Seoul and told Magdalene's father, who was with his sister, Yi Theresa, that Magdalene had been killed by a tiger. Magdalene's father fainted at the news. The only one who knew the whole story was Yi Theresa. Magdalene's father hired some hunters to catch the tiger in the forest. Three months elapsed. Magdalene's mother found out the whole story somehow and no longer showed her sadness. Magdalene's father asked her: "You are less sad now. Tell me the whole story. I promise not to oppose Magdalene's wish." Magdalene's mother told her husband the whole story. He rushed to Seoul and was very happy to find Magdalene safe at the home of Yi Theresa. He told her that he would not insist on her marriage, and allowed her to stay in Seoul.
Magdalene and three other pious women surrendered themselves to the police.
Magdalene was beheaded outside the Small West Gate on July 20, 1839, with seven other Catholics. She was 31 years old when her heavenly spouse crowned her with martyrdom.
Saint Yi Chong-hui Barbara (1799~1839)
Yi Chong-hui Barbara was a daughter of Ho Kye-im Magdalene, a sister of Yi Yong-hui Magdalene and aunt of Yi Barbara. One can see that she really came from a family of martyrs.
Barbara was born in Pongchon (Siheong, Gyeonggi-do) in 1799. She showed tremendous faith and a strong will when she was still young. Her father engaged her to a pagan man, but she didn't want to marry him. She pretended to have a disease that weakened her legs, and spent three years sitting and lying down on the floor. The man got tired of waiting and married another woman. Barbara then married a Catholic man. Two years later her husband died and she returned to her home. Then she went on to Seoul and lived at the home of her aunt, Yi Theresa. Her sister, Yi Magdalene, joined her in the same house.
In 1839, Barbara was arrested and courageously endured severe tortures. According to the government document Sungjongwon Diary, Barbara was taken outside the Small West Gate and beheaded there on September 3, 1839, with five other Catholics. She was 41 years old when she was beheaded for the sake of God.
Saint Ho Kye-im Magdalene (1773~1839)
Ho Kye-im Magdalene lived in Pongchon with her family. She married Yi, who was a pagan. Magdalene could not convert her husband, but she raised her children Catholic. Among her daughters, Yi Magdalene was martyred on July 20, 1839, and Yi Barbara was martyred on September 3, 1839.
Not much of recod has been left about Ho Magdalene. All we know about her is that she was severely tortured but endured all the pains with courage and patience. Her courage was as great as that of her two daughters, Yi Magdalene and Yi Barbara. The mother of the two martyrs also became a martyr. This glorious family of martyrs is a blessing of God.
Magdalene was beheaded outside the Small West Gate on September 26, 1839, with eight other Catholics. She was 67 years old when she was beheaded.
Saint Yi Mae-im Theresa (1788~1839)
Yi Mae-im Theresa was an aunt of the martyrs Yi Chong-hui Barbara and Yi Yong-hui Magdalene. Theresa and three other pious women gave themselves up to the government authorities. Theresa was beheaded outside the Small West Gate on July 20, 1839, with seven other Catholics. She was 52 years old at the time.