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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 January 21, 2021

All the strength of Satan’s reign is due to the easy-going...

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January 21

 

All the strength of Satan’s reign
is due to
the easy-going weakness of Catholics.


Pope St. Pius X


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Saint of the day

SAINT OF THE DAY

St. Agnes

Even pagans were moved to tears at the sight of the radiant...

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St. Agnes

Agnes was born around 291 in a Christian, patrician family of Rome, and suffered martyrdom in the terrible persecution of Diocletian.

As a young maiden, she pledged herself to Christ and defended her virginity to the death.

Exceptionally beautiful, she turned down numerous suitors, but when she refused Procop, the Prefect’s own son, things became very complicated. Procop tried to win Agnes with gifts and promises but she answered: “I’m already promised to the Lord of the Universe. He is more splendid than the sun and the stars, and He has said He will never leave me!”

Angered, Procop  took  the maiden before his father, and accused her of being a Christian. The Prefect tried to turn her from her Faith first by cajolements, and then by placing her in chains, but she only rejoiced.

The pagan official, set on overcoming Agnes by any means, next had her taken to a house of prostitution but she was visibly protected by an angel.

Finally, Agnes was condemned to death, but she was happy as a bride about to meet her bridegroom. Even pagan bystanders were moved to tears at the sight of the radiant maiden going to her death, and begged her to relent, to which she retorted: “If I were to try to please you, I would offend my Spouse. He chose me first and He shall have me!” Then praying, she offered her neck for the death stroke.

St. Agnes is one of seven women besides the Blessed Virgin to be mentioned in the Canon of the Mass. She is the patron of chastity, young girls, engaged couples, rape victims and virgins. She is depicted holding a lamb as her name in Latin means “lamb”, “agnus”. But the name “Agnes” is actually taken from the Greek “hagne” meaning chaste, pure, sacred.

Agnes’ relics repose beneath the high altar of the Church of Sant’Agnese Fuori le mura, built upon the place she was originally buried. This church was built in her honor by the daughter of the Emperor Constantine, and is one of the oldest in Rome.  St. Agnes’ skull is in the Church of Sant’Agnese in Agone at Piazza Navona.

Weekly Story

WEEKLY STORY

One night, the Blessed Virgin appeared to him and told him h...

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Mary and the Muslim

Don Octavio del Monaco was a wealthy citizen of 17th century Naples. Like many of his class, Don Octavius had several Muslim slaves in his household. These children of Islam were amazed at the kindness of their “master.” He fed and clothed them better than they received in their native land. In return, his slaves attended to their tasks with diligence, as Don Octavius did not over work them, but assigned them duties in keeping with their dignity as children of God.

If these Muslim slaves had any reason for complaint, it was the gentle persistence with which their master and his wife exhorted them to give up their false religion and become Catholics. Don Octavius even went so far as to invite the slaves to join his family in the chapel to worship the one true God with them!

Our story today is about one young slave in particular. His name was Abel, like the slain son of Adam and Eve. He felt drawn in a peculiar way to a lamp that burned in front of a shrine to Holy Mary. Abel would purchase the oil needed to keep the lamp lit from his own meager stipend. As he continued to practice this humble devotion, he would say, “I hope that this Lady will grant me some great favor.”

One night, the Blessed Virgin appeared to him and told him he must become a Christian. At first the Turk resisted. But she placed her hand upon his shoulder, and said to him: “Now no longer resist, Abel, but be baptized and called Joseph,” conferring on him a name that was very dear to her Immaculate Heart indeed.

On August the 10th, 1648, there was much rejoicing in Heaven, for on that day “Joseph” and eleven other Muslims converted to the Christian faith and were baptized. Their conversion was brought about by the kindness shown by Don Octavius and the special intercession of the Mother of God.

Our story does not end here. Even once this son of hers was safely baptized, Mother Mary delighted in visiting him. Once, after having appeared to him, she was about to depart. But the Moor seized her mantle, saying, “Oh, Lady, when I find myself afflicted, I pray you to let me see you.” In fact, she one day promised him this and when Joseph found himself afflicted he invoked her, and Mary appeared to him again saying, “Have patience", and he was consoled.

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

One night, the Blessed Virgin appeared to him and told him he must become a Christian.

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