Saint Brigid Religious Education
100 Mayflower Street
West Hartford, CT 06110
Feast day: November 24
St. Andrew was one of 117 martyrs who met death in Vietnam between
1820 and 1862. Members of this group were beatified on four different
occasions between 1900 and 1951. Now all have been canonized by Pope
John Paul II.
Christianity came to Vietnam (then three separate kingdoms) through the
Portuguese. Jesuits opened the first permanent mission at Da Nang in
1615. They ministered to Japanese Catholics who had been driven from
The king of one of the kingdoms banned all foreign missionaries and
tried to make all Vietnamese apostatize by trampling on a crucifix. Like
the priest-holes in Ireland during English persecution, many hiding
places were offered in homes of the faithful.
Severe persecutions were again launched three times in the 19th century.
During the six decades after 1820, between 100,000 and 300,000 Catholics
were killed or subjected to great hardship. Foreign missionaries
martyred in the first wave included priests of the Parish Mission
Society, and Spanish Dominican priests. Persecution broke out again in
1847 when the emperor suspected foreign missionaries and Vietnamese
Christians of sympathizing with the rebellion of one of his sons.
The last of the martyrs were 17 laypersons, one of them a 9-year-old,
executed in 1862. That year a treaty with France guaranteed religious
freedom to Catholics, but it did not stop all persecution.
By 1954 there were over a million and a half Catholics, about seven
percent of the population in the north. Buddhists represented about 60
percent. Persistent persecution forced some 670,000 Catholics to abandon
lands, homes and possessions and flee to the south. In 1964, there were
still 833,000 Catholics in the north, but many were in prison. In the
south, Catholics were enjoying the first decade of religious freedom in
centuries, their numbers swelled by refugees.
During the Vietnamese war, Catholics again suffered in the north, and
again moved to the south in great numbers. Now the whole country is
under Communist rule.
was born in 1785 in Vietnam. He was beheaded on December 21, 1839 in
Hanoi, Vietnam for the offense of being a priest. He was Beatified on
May 27, 1900 by Pope Leo XIII and Canonized on June 19, 1988 by Pope
John Paul II.