From its introduction in Vietnam in the 16th Century, Catholicism was seen by authorities as something foreign and was persecuted various times. Perhaps as many as 100,000 converts were martyred during the first two centuries. In 1988 John Paul II canonized 117 of these martyrs, including Andrew Dung-Lac.
Andrew was born into a poor family in north Vietnam. When his family moved to Hanoi to find work, he met a Christian catechist who gave him food and shelter and instructed in the Christian faith. After his baptism, he learned Chinese and Latin and became a catechist himself. He was then chosen to study theology and was ordained a priest in 1823.
When persecution broke out under Emperor Minh-Mang, he was arrested and imprisoned. His parishioners bought his freedom and he went into hiding for the next four years, changing his family name from Dung to Lac, and serving secretly as a priest in another area. In 1839 he was arrested again and taken to Hanoi where he suffered terrible physical torture. On December 21 he was beheaded.
In this icon he is dressed in ordinary Vietnamese clothing in remembrance of the years he ministered in hiding.
His feast day is November 24.
Andrew Dung-Lac was born in Tran An Dung, Vietnam in 1795. He took the name of Andrew at his baptism, and was ordained a Priest on March 15th, 1823. During persecution in Vietnam, Andrew Dung changed his name to Lac, to avoid capture. He is now memorialized as Andrew Dung-Lac. His memorial along with that of his companions is November 24. This memorial celebrates all of the Vietnamese Martyrs of the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries, covering the years from 1625 – 1886. Andrew Dung-Lac like most of his companions was beheaded for his faith.
Missionary efforts from various religious families beginning in the sixteenth century and continuing until 1866, allowed the Vietnamese people to hear the message of the Gospel. Many accepted it despite persecution and even being put to death. June 19, 1988, Pope Paul II canonized 117 persons martyred in the eighteenth century. Among these were ninety-six Vietnamese. These martyrs gave not only their lives for he Church, but for their country as well. They showed that they wanted the Gospel of Christ to take root in their people, and contribute to the good of their homeland. On June 1, 1989, these holy martyrs were inscribed in the liturgical calendar of the Universal Church on November 24th.
St. Andrew Dung-Lac was an ordained Priest in Vietnam. He and his companions lived through the times of persecution in their country. They believed that the Gospel of Christ needed to be spread throughout Vietnam, and continued with this mission, even facing death themselves. Eventually St. Andrew and his companions were captured and beheaded for their faith. It is only by the heroic efforts of these great saints that Catholicism is alive today in Vietnam. Where would our faith be, if these great saints had not risked their lives to spread the Gospel? Pope John Paul II canonized St. Andrew Dung-Lac and his companions on June 19, 1988.
Born: c.1785 in Vietnam
Died: Beheaded on December 21, 1839 in Hanoi, Vietnam for the offense of being a priest
Name Meaning: strong, manly (Andrew)
Beatified: May 27, 1900 by Pope Leo XIII
Canonized: June 19, 1988 by Pope John Paul II