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Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Hallelujah Korea, Part XI: Samseongsan Sacred Site, Seoul Gwanak-gu - Final Resting for Three French Catholic Priests during Gihae Catholic Persecution


Samseongsan Sacred Site (Hanja: 三聖山聖地) which is located at the foot of Mount Samseong (Specific Location: Samseong-dong san 57-14 beonji [Previous land lot: Sillim 10-dong san 57-14 beonji], Seoul Gwanak-gu) is the final resting place for three french catholic priests: Saints Laurent-Joseph-Marius Imbert (Korean Name: Beom Se-hyeong), Pierre-Philibert Maubant and Jacques-Honoré Chastan. These three priests were executed by Joseonese Officials during Gihae Catholic Persecution a.k.a Gihae Bakhae (기해박해/己亥迫害).

On 10 August 1839 (Gihae Year), Imbert, who was secretly going about his missionary work, was betrayed. Realizing that it was only a matter of time before he was arrested and killed, he celebrated Mass and surrendered himself to those who lay in waiting for him. He was taken to Seoul where he was tortured to reveal the whereabouts of foreign missionaries. Believing that his converts would be spared if all foreign missionaries came out from hiding and gave themselves up, he wrote a note to his fellow missionaries, Pierre-Philibert Maubant and Jacques-Honoré Chastan, asking them to surrender to the Korean authorities as well.

They did and the three of them were imprisoned together. They were taken before an interrogator and questioned for three days to reveal the names and whereabouts of their converts. As torture failed to break them down, they were sent to another prison and beheaded on 21 September 1839 at Saenamteo, Seoul Yongsan-gu. Their bodies remained exposed for several days but were finally buried on Mount Samseong.

The three martyrs were one of the 79 Korean Martyrs beatified in 1925 and were among the 103 Korean Martyrs canonized by Pope John Paul II in Seoul on 6 May 1984.