In Guizhou in China, two seminarians and two lay people, one of whom was a farmer, the other a widow who worked as a cook in the seminary, suffered martyrdom together. They were beheaded at Tsingai on 29 July 1861. They are known as the Martyrs of Qingyanzhen (Guizhou), and their grave can be visited today (see photo above).
The laywoman and cook was St Martha Wang Luo Mande. St Martha was born in 1812 in the town of Zunji and later lived with her husband in Qingyian, where they owned a small vegetable farm. Childless, they adopted two nephews.
After her husband died the two adopted sons left home and St Martha moved to the edge of town where she operated a small inn. When a Catholic from Yoajiaguan came to catechize the people of Qingyian, St Martha became intrigued by the message of Jesus and she became a Catholic on Christmas Day in 1852.
Desiring a greater access to the Mass and the community of Christians, Martha moved to Guiyang where she worked as a cook in a Catholic hostel for young women. When Bishop Hu opened a seminary for the training of priests at Yaojiaguan, he hired Martha as a cook and cleaning lady.
When some soldiers, who were very anti-religious, arrived at the seminary in 1861, they took away two seminarians and arrested them for being Christians. These seminarians were sentenced to death and Martha decided to walk with the condemned seminarians to the place of execution.
Because she continued to offer support to the seminarians, despite threats from the soldiers, Martha was arrested too. Along the way ‘all four showed on their faces the peace and joy that rose from courage to die for their Catholic Faith, as they prayed up to the last minute before entering the glory of martyrdom’.
The layman was St John Baptist Luo Tingyin, who was arrested for carrying letters from the seminarians when they were in prison. The two martyred seminarians were St Joseph Zhang Wenlan and St Paul Chen Changpin.