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joseph khangCatechist Joseph (Nguyen-duy-) Khang was born in the year 1832 in the Christian community of Cao-mai in the district of Tra-vi, province of Thai-binh. At age 16, after his father died, he said goodbye to his mother and entered the House of God with the intention of studying for the priesthood. The tempest of persecution that arose against the Christians changed all his plans. All the colleges and seminaries were closed.

The fate of catechist Joseph Khang was the same that befell Bishop Jerome Hermosilla with whom he was taken prisoner. His fidelity and constancy were admirable since he could have escaped. Nonetheless, he preferred to remain at the side of his master. He stated: “If the Bishop dies for the faith, so will I.” For, as the Latin poet said: “There is nothing than can be disturbed in the soul of the just man who is tenacious in his purpose,” especially if his fidelity is founded on a supernatural life.

Joseph was cruelly whipped several times and subjected to other tortures but he never let out a groan nor did he get depressed. On the contrary, he was always happy and peaceful, carrying himself with utmost dignity. He exhorted all with whom he came into contact to love God and venerate Mary, the Mother of Jesus, to whom he had a special devotion. Joseph received the habit of a Lay Dominican and accompanied Bishop Hermosilla for three years. As the Vietnamese so aptly say: “He was the hands and feet of his master, Bishop Hermosilla.”

Joseph received the palm of martyrdom by decapitation on 6 December 1861, a few days after his beloved bishop was beheaded. His apostolate as a catechist and his martyrdom are an honour to all Lay Dominicans in Vietnam.  He was canonised by John Paul II in 1988. –

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