UCAN Spirituality Catholic Church News

St Joseph Zhang Dapeng

China

Zhang Dapeng (Tshang-ta-Pong) was born in China in 1754. He moved to Guiyang in 1794, training to become a silk merchant. He had a wife and a mistress, and his only son, Dewang Dapeng, was born in 1793. He first learned of Christianity through a business contact. He converted, but was unable to join the Church because he kept a mistress. He eventually left her, and in 1800 he was baptized at the age of 46.

Because of opposition from his business associates, he opened his own store. He became a catechist and altar server, and converted a house into a small school for religious instruction. He taught over a thousand people to accept Catholicism. He became the heart of the mission in the city of Kony-Yang.

The Mandarins wanted to imprison him, however, as they became increasingly concerned about the power of foreign religious beliefs. His son was captured and died in 1813. Zhang Dapeng fled to Sichuan. In the following year his anti-Christian brother-in-law betrayed him, and he was arrested. He was imprisoned with St Peter Wu Gousheng, and the two spent their time in prison caring for other prisoners. He was offered his freedom if he would denounce Christianity, but he declined.

Finally, on 12 March 1815, Zhang Dapeng was strangled to death by the Mandarins. He was 61. He was buried in Xijiaotang and grass from his grave has become part of local folk remedies. He was beatified in 1909 and canonized in 2000.