UCAN Spirituality Catholic Church News

St Michael Ho-Dinh-Hy and Blessed John Baptist Machado de Tavora


St Michael Ho-Dinh-Hy was born to Christian parents in North Vietnam and was by profession a wealthy silk trader. At the age of 21 he obtained the fifth rank mandarin and became superintendent of the royal silk mills. He was married to a Christian and had two sons and three daughters. His eldest son studied to be a priest. The family, however, practised their faith in private. Late in life he became an uncompromisingly public Christian and a protector of the Christian community. He was arrested and all his possessions were confiscated. He was beheaded in 1857, and his remains were buried at the Basilica of Phú Cam, in his birthplace. He was the last high-ranked official to be executed under the Nguyễn Dynasty. Pope John Paul II canonized him in 1988.

Blessed John Baptist Machado de Tavora was a Jesuit missionary in Japan. He was born in 1580 and joined the Jesuits at an early age, sailing to Japan in 1609. He was betrayed under the pretext of converting a repentant apostate and was beheaded with a Franciscan, Peter of the Assumption, at Nagasaki in 1617. The two martyrs cheerfully and piously spent their last days in the Omura prison, and were executed nearby. They embraced each other fervently before bending their heads to receive the death-blow. Blessed John had always wanted to go to Japan. “The three happiest days in my life,” he wrote, “are the day of my entrance into the College of Coimbra, that of my arrest, and this one on which I hear my sentence of death.” And again he wrote: “I have just been told that I am to sacrifice my life for our good Jesus. I sacrifice it with joy, and if I had a thousand lives I would, with His divine grace, sacrifice them all.”

He was beatified in 1866.