Birmingham: Archbishop Nichols leads prayers for Vietnam

 During a special Mass to mark the 20th anniversary of their Canonisation in 1988, Archbishop Vincent Nichols spoke of the powerful witness and example of the Vietnamese Martyrs who were tortured and died for their Catholic Faith, writes Peter Jennings.

The Archbishop of Birmingham warmly thanked the 11 Vietnamese priests of the Archdiocese, for their dedication and work in the diocese. The Mass of Christ the King was celebrated in English and Vietnamese.

"The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church," Archbishop Nichols reminded the congregation of all ages, many wearing their colourful national costumes, at St Francis, Handsworth, in Birmingham, on Sunday 23 November.

"We are inspired and encouraged by these Vietnamese Martyrs and we think of the difficulties being faced by the Catholic Church in Vietnam today."

"Pray for Catholics in Vietnam who are being harassed by the government today," encouraged Archbishop Nichols.

"Remember, Jesus Christ is King, We obey him. He is present in every corner of the world and in particular with those who are suffering for their faith," concluded the Archbishop.

Pope John Paul II canonised the Vietnamese Martyrs, St Andrew Dung-Lac and his 116 companions, in Rome on 19 June 1988. The Polish Pope also beatified a young Vietnamese Martyr, Andrew Phú Yên, in March 2000.

At the start of the Mass the relics of the Vietnamese Martyrs were carried in procession in a beautiful ornate gold reliquary by men wearing national costume.

Before the final blessing, Mgr Tom Fallon, parish priest of St Francis, Hunters Road, shared some of his memories of the day of the Canonisation with Vietnamese of all ages who packed the church.

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