On 19 June 1988, Pope John Paul II canonised a group of 117 martyrs who died for the Roman Catholic Faith in Vietnam during the nineteenth century. The group was made up of ninety-six Vietnamese, eleven Spaniards, and ten French. Eight of the group were bishops, fifty were priests and fifty-nine were lay Catholics. Some of the priests were Dominicans, others were diocesan priests who belonged to the Paris Mission Society. One such diocesan priest was St Theophane Venard. (His feast day is November 6.)
St Andrew Dung-Lac, who represents this group of heroes, was a Vietnamese diocesan priest. He was born in 1795 to a poor, non-Christian family and was taught by a Christian lay catechist. He worked in the missions with the priests of the Foreign Mission Society of Paris. He was imprisoned and repeatedly tortured during the persecutions of Minh-Meng, the emperor of Vietnam between 1820 and 1840 who was famed for his persecutions of the Christians. Among the many Vietnamese and international martyrs who died alongside Andrew Dung-Lac in 1839 was St Peter Thi, another Vietnamese priest.
This feast day, and the witnesses of the lives of the martyrs, give testament to the sufferings inflicted on the Vietnamese Church, which are among the most terrible in the long history of Christian martyrdom. – CNA