The Martyrs of Vietnam

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This is a group of 117 people who died for their faith between 1745 and 1862. They included Europeans and Asians. There were eight bishops, 50 priests and 59 laymen. They were beatified at different times during the 20th century and canonised together in 1988.

During the first 200 years of Christianity in Vietnam it is believed more than 100,000 were martyred. Most of their names have been lost. The earliest ones were the Spanish Dominicans, Francisco Gil and Alonzo Lenziana. In 1798 the first Vietnamese diocesan priests, John Day and Emanual Nguyen were killed.

During the first 20 years of the 19th century, Christianity made steady progress in the country, but from 1820 to 1883 the Anaamite kings excluded all missionaries and ordered all Christians to renounce their faith in a series of violent persecutions.

Many of the martyrs were beaten and tortured and mutilated before being put to death. Bishop Ignatius Delgado, who had worked in Vietnam for 50 years, was starved to death in a cage. He was 76 years old.

The king's anti-Christian feeling was so so strong, Christians were branded on their faces, and their homes and churches were destroyed. Among those who suffered were priests Laurence Hung, Paul Lok, and John Hoan, civil servant Michael Ho-Ding-Hi, Martha Wang and two fishermen, Peter Thuan and Dominic Toal, who were burnt to death with Peter Dai in a bamboo hut.

In 1862, a treaty with the French government secured freedom for all religions in Vietnam and this tragic era came to an end.