Saturday, March 28, 2015   

Papal mass to recall torture, execution of Korean martyrs
(08-12 11:15)

Pope Francis will pay tribute to the courage and sacrifice of South Korea's first Catholics when he beatifies 124 tortured and executed martyrs at a special mass in Seoul on Saturday.
Up to one million people are expected to converge on the capital's central Gwanghwamun Square for the mass, which will mark the religious centrepiece of the pope's five-day visit to South Korea.
The most prominent among those to be beatified is an 18th century nobleman, Paul Yun Ji-Chung, who became Korea's first Catholic martyr when he was executed in 1791 after clashing with Confucian officials.
According to the Church, around 10,000 Koreans were martyred in the first 100 years after Catholicism was introduced to the peninsula in 1784.
Uniquely, the religion was not brought in and spread by foreign missionaries, but by Korean scholars who had come across Catholic teachings in China and shared them on their return with family and friends.
It survived, as a largely illegal community, with virtually no formal missionary priests until clergy from France arrived more than 50 years later. --AFP   
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