This calendar of saints is drawn from several denominations, sects, and traditions. Although it will no longer be updated daily, the index on the right will guide visitors to a saint celebrated on any day they choose. Additional saints will be added as they present themselves to Major.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

July 26 -- Feast of Blessed Andrew of Phú Yên

Sometimes the picture is worth considering before the story is told.

Blessed Andrew was born in what's now Phú Yên, Vietnam; back in 1644, the country was split between the Nguyen kingdom and the Trinh kingdom.  RanRan (now Phú Yên) was under the Nguyens.

Father Alexander de Rhodes, S.J., had been working the Word on and off in Vietnam since 1620.  He wrote the first Vietnamese catechism (religious instructional book) and the first Latin-Vietnamese- Portuguese dictionary.  Around age fifteen, young Andrew was baptized by Father Rhodes.  He took a vow to assist the good priest in propagating the Faith for the rest of his life.  As it turned out, that was only about four more years. 

Nguyễn Phúc Lan, the national leader, became displeased with the Christian missions in his country. Father Rhodes had already been kicked out of Vietnam (some part of it) once.  He had worn out his welcome in Macao as well.  This time, Nguyễn Phúc Lan had him tossed in prison under a death sentence while he rooted out the other Christians.  Andrew, back at the church awaiting the good padre's return, was an easy mark to bust.

While Father Rhodes was eventually exiled once again (eventually evangelizing in Persia until his death by natural causes), Andrew had the bad fortune to be a native.  Exile wasn't an option, and besides, an example needed to be made.  He was beaten, questioned, beaten, questioned... no apostasy in this kid.  They marched him out to a field outside Ke Cham (or maybe Phú Xuân -- now Hue), punctured some with a lance, and then finally beheaded.

Pope John Paul II, who (not coincidentally was the first non-Italian pope since 1523, recognized Andrew as the first Christian martyr of Vietnam in a beatification ceremony 355 years after the execution. 

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