Jan 29, 2007

Saint Martina of China

Perhaps the title is a bit premature, but the story of the mother of four Chinese Catholic priests is impressive. Here is her story as reprinted in the English edition of Chiesa by Sandro Magister.
There was a family by the last name of Zhu that was particularly well known to the Catholics of Shanghai and whose story has touched people all over the world. The mother, named Martina, was a widow with eight children, four of whom became Jesuit priests. With the exception of Michael, who was in Rome at the Jesuit Curia Generalizia, all of them were imprisoned on September 8. The oldest son, Francis Xavier, had already been at forced labor for two years. Martina, called “the afflicted one” by the Catholics of Shanghai, went for almost three years to visit each of her children in the various prisons where they were held. She went by foot, walking kilometers to save the few pennies that permitted her to bring them some little gift. Although she was insulted by the guards, she encouraged each of her children to move forward, to accept his suffering willingly, to preserve his faith in God. Finally her children were transferred to labor camps in faraway provinces. For more than twenty years, Martina did not see them. They were set free only at the beginning of the 1980’s – but not Francis Xavier, who died in prison in 1983.
Also see the more recent Chiesa article on the Catholic Church in the Far East--very important!