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Our Lady of Deliverance, Empress of China

Our Lady of Deliverance, Empress of China

By An Anonymous Devotee of Our Lady


In 1900, the Catholic Church was healthy and growing in China. There were 40 bishops, about 800 European missionaries, 600 native Chinese priests and about 700,000 Catholics throughout China.

It was during this time that the Boxer Uprising (1898–1900) started what ushered in a period of animosity against all things European.

It was from this hatred that the Boxer Rebellion was born. In June 1900, the Boxers besieged the Beitang cathedral. Directing the defense during the siege was the French Lazarist Bishop Pierre-Marie-Alphonse Favier, C.M., of Peking. Bishop Favier, who designed the cathedral, kept a journal during the siege and gave vivid accounts of what was endured before and during the siege.

 

He provides the following account of the Boxer revolt:

A Chinese gateway and pagoda and The Great Wall of ChinaThe Boxers are a truly diabolical sect; invocations, incantations, obsessions, and even possessions, are common among them. Savants may attribute their extraordinary doings to magnetism or hypnotism or may look upon them as victims of hysteria and fanaticism, but to us they seem to be even more directly instruments of the devil. The hatred of the name Catholic drives them to the greatest excesses.

Established as they are in every village they unite on a day specified to attack any one Catholic settlement, destroying and murdering everything and everyone in it.

Small children were quartered, women were burned in church or run through with a sword, men were stabbed or shot and some were even crucified.

The conduct of the Catholics is admirable; apostasy is proposed to them, but they prefer flight, ruin, even death.1

Ten thousand Boxers and soldiers from the regular army besieged the cathedral, which was the Lazarists’ usual place of residency. Behind the church’s walls were over 3,000 Chinese Catholics, 30 French sailors led by a 23-year-old Lt. Paul Henry (who died in the siege), 11 Italian soldiers led by a 22-year-old Lt. Olivieri, and numerous French and Chinese priests and sisters. This siege resulted in the deaths of more than 400 people. Over the two-month siege, the Catholics endured continuous bombardment, mine attacks, flaming rockets and starvation. Many of the children died from smallpox.

Among the admirable figures in the siege was Sister Helen de Jaurias, the Superior of the Sisters of Charity in Beitang, of whom it is said that she possessed the virtue and character of their foundress, Saint Louise de Marillac. Her diary, containing the daily events of the siege until her death on August 20, 1900, provides proof of this: despite having to lodge and feed 1,800 women and children, she overcame the burden of old age and fatigue. She went, as she expressed it, “to observe from Heaven the triumph of Holy Church and the conversion of China.”2 A few days before her death, a company of French marines arrived to rescue the heroic defenders of Beitang.

 

In 1901, at the Lazarists’ motherhouse in Paris, Bishop Favier would recount events of this dramatic siege:

Every night during those two months, the Chinese [Boxers] directed heavy gunfire at the roofs of the cathedral and the balustrade surrounding it. Why? wondered [Lieutenant] Paul Henry and the missionaries. There was no one there to defend the cathedral. After the liberation, the pagans provided the key to this mystery: “How is it,” they said, “that you did not see anything? Every night, a white Lady walked along the roof, and the balustrade was lined with white soldiers with wings.” The Chinese [Boxers], as they themselves affirm, were firing at the apparitions.3

Our Lady of Deliverance Their miraculous survival was attributed to the appearance of a woman in white, Our Lady of Deliverance. Bishop Favier had a chapel erected in thanksgiving, in the church of Beitang in her honor.

She is represented as the Empress of China holding in her arms the Child Jesus, Who is depicted as an imperial prince.

Bishop Favier expressed his absolute confidence in Providence that thus manifested Its protection:

The good God wishes to save the missions of China. The persecution had been so cleverly organized, that it seemed that the Catholic religion in China was going to be extinguished. However nothing of the kind happened. Thanks be to God.

Death gives birth to life. Blessed are those who succumb to death, they prepare the way for the final triumph, they are martyrs crowned by God.4

 


Notes:
1. Alphonse Favier, Joseph Freri ed. The Heart of Pekin: Bishop A. Favier’s Diary of the Siege, May-August 1900 (Boston: Marlier, 1901), 9–10.
2. Henry Mazeau, The Heroine Of Pe-Tang; Helen De Jaurias, Sister Of Charity 1824-1900 (London: Burns Oates & Washbourne; 1928).
3. Jeremy Clarke, S.J., “Our Lady of China—Marian Devotion and the Jesuits,” in Studies in the Spirituality of the Jesuits (Autumn 2009), https://www.jesuit.org/wp-content/uploads/Studies_Autumn _09.pdf.
4. J-M Planchet C. M., Documents sur les martyrs de Pekin pendant la persecution des Boxeurs (Peking, Imprimerie des Lazaristes, 1920), 101.

 

 

Quote of the day

DAILY QUOTE for April 22, 2021

Mary was raised to the dignity of Mother of God rather for s...

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April 22

 

Mary was raised to the dignity of Mother of God
rather for sinners than for the just, since
Jesus Christ declares that
He came to call not the just, but sinners.

St. Anselm

 
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Saint of the day

SAINT OF THE DAY

St. Theodore of Sykeon

Endowed with the gift of prophecy and miracles, on a second...

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St. Theodore of Sykeon

Born in the Roman Galatian town of Sykeon in Asia Minor, Theodore was the son of a woman of ill repute, who kept an inn along the imperial highway.

As a child, he was so given to prayer that he would often give up a meal to spend time in church. From an early age he shut himself up first in the cellar of his mother’s house and then in a cave beneath a disused chapel. Later, for a time, seeking to further escape the world, he sought solitude on a mountain.

On a pilgrimage to Jerusalem Theodore assumed a monk’s habit, and though only eighteen years of age, was ordained a priest by his own bishop. His life was most austere, wearing an iron girdle about his body and only sparingly partaking of vegetables.

Endowed with the gift of prophecy and miracles, on a second pilgrimage to the Holy Land, he obtained abundant rain after a severe drought.

Theodore founded several monasteries, and ruled as abbot in Sykeon. He was consecrated Bishop of Anastasiopolis, though he deemed himself totally unfitted. After ten years he succeeded in relinquishing his post and retired to Sykeon.

From Sykeon he was recalled to Constantinople to bless the emperor and the senate and there healed one of the Emperor’s sons of a skin disease, reputedly leprosy.

Theodore had a great devotion to St. George and did much to propagate devotion to him.

He died in Sykeon on April 22, 613.

Weekly Story

WEEKLY STORY

In the mountainous region of Trent in Germany, there lived a...

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The Robber Who Stole Heaven

In the mountainous region of Trent in Germany, there lived a notorious robber who made his living by bringing misfortune on others. His occupation being what it was, he would only increase his property by decreasing that of his victims.

One day, he was admonished by a local religious to change his course of life and thereby insure his eternal salvation. The only answer the robber gave was that for him there was no remedy.

"Do not say so," said the religious, "do what I tell you. Fast on each Saturday in honor of the Virgin Mary, and on that day of the week do no harm to anyone. She will obtain for you the grace of not dying in God’s displeasure.”

The robber thought to himself, “This is a small price to pay to insure my salvation; I will do as this holy man has prescribed.” He then obediently followed the religious’ advice, and made a vow to continue to do so. That he might not break it, from that time on he traveled unarmed on Saturdays.

Many years later, our robber was apprehended on a given Saturday by the officers of justice, and that he might not break his oath, he allowed himself to be taken without resistance. The judge, seeing that he was now a gray-haired old man, wished to pardon him.

Then the truly miraculous occurred. Rather than jump for joy thanking the judge for his leniency, the old robber, said that he wished to die in punishment of his sins. He then made a public confession of all the sins of his life in that same judgment hall, weeping so bitterly that all present wept with him.

He was beheaded, a death reserved for the nobility, rather than hanged. Then his body was buried with little ceremony, in a grave dug nearby.
Very soon afterwards, the mother of God came down from Heaven with four holy virgins by her side. They took the robber’s dead body from that place, wrapped it in a rich cloth embroidered with gold, and bore it themselves to the gate of the city.

There the Blessed Virgin said to the guards: "Tell the bishop from me, to give an honorable burial, in such a church to this dead person, for he was my faithful servant." And thus it was done.

All the people in the village thronged to the spot where they found the corpse with the rich pall, and the bier on which it was placed. And from that moment on, says Caesarius of Heisterbach, all persons in that region began to fast on Saturdays in honor of she who was so kind to even a notorious robber.

From the Glories of Mary, by St. Alphonsus Maria de Liguori.

In the mountainous region of Trent in Germany, there lived a notorious robber who made his living by bringing misfortune on others. 

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