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Dark cloud hovering the grand opening ceremony of Holy Jubilee in Vietnam

ICC Note:

Vietnamese Catholics celebrate Holy Jubilee and recognize history of martyrs.

11/23/09 Vietnam (VietCatholic News)–More than a hundred thousand of Catholics participated in the grand opening ceremony of Holy Jubilee while masses were simultaneously celebrated all over the country. The joy on the opening day of the Holy Jubilee in Vietnam, however, was marred by the news that Archbishop of Hanoi had submitted his resignation to the Pope under the pressure of the communist government. French and American Cardinals brought Hanoi Catholics a glare of hope.

As it was getting so dark so early in winter, the ceremony began at 5:30pm with the one hour long procession of Martyrs’ relics presided by Bishop Peter Nguyen Van Nhon, President of The Episcopal Conference of Vietnam.

During the procession, the congregation was reminded that in the period of 261 years, from 1625 to 1886, 53 “Edicts of Persecution of Christians” were signed by the Trinh, the Nguyen Lords and the Kings of Nguyen dynasty, one worse than the previous one. During that time, there were approximately 130,000 Christians were being victimized by these persecutions which were widespread throughout the country.

The Vietnamese Martyrs fall into several categories, with those of the Portuguese missionary era (16th century), those of the Dominican and Jesuit missionary era of the (17th century), those killed in the politically inspired persecutions of the 19th century, and those martyred during the Communist era of the 20th and 21th century.

The congregation expressed their gratitude that among an estimate of 130,000 Christians, who had died for their faith, a typical sample of 117 martyrs — including 96 Vietnamese, 11 Spanish Dominicans, and 10 French members of the Paris Foreign Missions Society (Missions Etrangères de Paris) (MEP) — were beatified on four separate occasions: 64 by Pope Leo XIII on May 27, 1900, eight by Pope Pius X on May 20, 1906, 20 by Pope Pius X on May 2, 1909, 25 by Pope Pius XII on April 29, 1951.

All these 117 Vietnamese Martyrs were eventually canonized on June 19, 1988 by Pope John Paul II under a strong protest of Vietnam communist government.

On March 5, 2000, a young Vietnamese Martyr, Andrew Phú Yên, was beatified by Pope John Paul II.

Youth from various dioceses performed plays depicting how 117 Vietnamese Martyrs shed their blood for their faith in many different ways.

– 76 were beheaded with sword.

– 21 were slowly strangled to death by rope.

– 9 were brutally tortured and died in jail.

– 6 were burned alive.

– 5 were slowly cut piece by piece until death; their bodies were chopped up.

The Festival Opening celebration continued throughout the night with a wealth of art works illustrating a rich history of 350 years since the creation of the two dioceses of North and South Vietnam (1659-2009), and 50 years since the establishment of the Catholic hierarchy in Vietnam.

The grand opening ceremony at So Kien, 70 km South of Hanoi, was the second recent largest Catholic gatherings in North Vietnam up to date. The largest one was the Mass at Xa Doai on Aug. 15, when more than half a million of Catholics protested against the brutal assaults against their priests in Tam Toa.

While the event in Vinh diocese had been intentionally ignored by state media, the grand opening ceremony at So Kien on Monday was widely reported and interpreted by state media as “an equivocal evidence” for the Religious Freedom Policy of Vietnam government.

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