Copyright (c) 2011 Beverly Johnson
Saint Andrew Kim, also known as Saint Kim Dae Gon, was the son of Korean converts. His father, Ignatius Kim, was martyred during the persecution of 1839 and was beatified in 1925.
At 15 years old, Saint Andrew Kim was baptized a Catholic and entered the seminary in Macau, a Portuguese colony. In 1845, St. Andrew Kim was ordained a priest becoming the first Catholic priest in Korea.
Saint Andrew Kim Martyr
Saint Andrew Kim went back to Korea after his ordination to spread the word of Jesus Christ. He had to secretly preach the gospel to the Korean Christians because of the great danger of torture and death at the time of the Joseon Dynasty. St. Andrew Kim Taegon became one of the thousands of Korean Catholics martyred in Korea. He was only 25 years old when he was tortured and then beheaded by 12 soldiers who sliced Saint Andrew Kim’s neck with their swords. After eight sword strikes, Saint Kim’s head was severed. St. Andrew Kim’s martyrdom took place on September 16, 1846 at Saenamto. Saint Andrew Kim Quote
Martyr Saint Andrew Kim Taegon spoke these final words before his martyrdom:
“This is my last hour of life, listen to me attentively: if I have held communication with foreigners, it has been for my religion and for my God. It is for Him that I die. My immortal life is on the point of beginning. Become Christians if you wish to be happy after death, because God has eternal chastisements in store for those who have refused to know Him.”
St. Andrew Kim Canonized
Pope John Paul II canonized Saint Andrew Kim on May 6, 1984 for his great sacrifices as he carried the words of Jesus to Korean Christians. The feast of Saint Andrew Kim is celebrated on September 20 by Roman Catholics. A Saint Kim Dae-gon statue stands in South Korea in his honor. Many Korean Catholics wear a Saint Andrew Kim medal or a Saint Andrew Kim necklace in reverence to the first ordained Korean priest. They pray to him for the strength to carry on their Catholic faith with the same courage that Saint Andrew Kim displayed.
The Korean Church is unique because it was founded entirely by laypeople. This fledgling Church, so young and yet so strong in faith, withstood wave after wave of fierce persecution. Thus, in less than a century, it could boast of 10,000 martyrs. The death of these many martyrs became the leaven of the Church and led to today’s splendid flowering of the Church in Korea. Even today their undying spirit sustains the Christians of the Church of Silence in the north of this tragically divided land. – Pope John Paul II at the canonization of Andrew in 1984