Saint of the Day – 30 March – Saint Marie-Nicolas-Antoine Daveluy MEP (1818-1866) Bishop Martyr, Missionary of the Paris Foreign Missionary Society, Apostolic Vicar to Korea – commonly known as St Antoine Daveluy – born on 16 March 1818 in the parish of Saint-Leu, Amiens, Somme, France and died by beheading on Good Friday, 30 March 1866 at the Galmaemot naval base, Boryeong, Chungcheong-do, South Korea, he was 48, along with two French priests, Pierre Aumaître and Martin-Luc Huin and two lay catechists, Lucas Hwang Sŏk-tu (Bishop Daveluy’s personal assistant) and Joseph Chang Chu-gi. Additional Memorial – 20 September as one of the Martyrs of Korea.
Antoine Daveluy was born 16 March 1818 in Amiens, France. His father was a factory owner, town councilman and government official. The members of his family were devout Catholics and two of his brothers became priests. He entered the St Sulpice Seminary in Issy-les-Moulineaux himself, in October 1834 and was Ordained a Priest on 18 December 1841.
His first assignment was as an assistant Priest in Roye. Despite poor health, he joined the Paris Foreign Missions Society on 4 October 1843. He departed for East Asia on 6 February 1844, intending to serve as a Missionary in the Ryukyu Islands of Japan. He arrived in Macau, where he was persuaded by the newly appointed Apostolic Vicar of Korea, Jean-Joseph-Jean-Baptiste Ferréol, to accompany him there instead. The two were joined by St Andrew Kim Taegŏn, a Korean Seminarian who had been studying for the Priesthood in Macau. They first traveled to Shanghai, where Bishop Ferréol ordained Father Kim on 17 August 1845. The three priests then made a stormy crossing by sea to Korea, arriving in Chungcheong Province in October.
Father Daveluy began work as a Missionary in Korea. Two years later, he was in charge of the Seminary. He then took over the administration of a district, while doing it, he scrupulously prepared a Chinese-Korean-French dictionary, translated several Korean works of history and chronology and revised the books of the Faith.
On 13 November 1855, Pope Pius IX appointed him titular Bishop of Akka and coadjutor to Bishop Siméon-François Berneux, who had been appointed Apostolic Vicar in 1854 after the death of Bishop Ferréol in 1853. He was Consecrated by Bishop Berneux on 25 March 1857.
In 1859 he completed various works for the instruction of Christians, as well as, the the annals of the country’s first Martyrs and wrote biographical notes on most Korean confessors. In the same year, he embarked on a three-month trip to search for and interview, the living witnesses to the persecution of 1801. In October 1802, he sent his work on the history of the mission to the Motherhouse of the Missionary Society in Paris. It is thanks to these documents, often literally reproduced, that Mr Dallet wrote the History of the Church of Korea which, must very largely, be attributed to Bishop Daveluy.
After Bishop Berneux was executed during a campaign by the Korean government against Christians, Bishop Daveluy became Apostolic Vicar on 8 March 1866.
He was promptly arrested on 11 March. Imprisoned and tortured, he staunchly defended his Catholic faith. When he appeared before his judges, he was able, thanks to his in-depth knowledge of the Korean language, to make several long apologetic explanations for Christianity. Perhaps for this reason but above all, because of his dignity as grand master of the Faith in their eyes, he had to suffer more frequently and more severely than his companions – whipping the legs, blows with wooden batons and puncturing with the sharpened rods.
Finally, the court imposed a death sentence against the three prisoners. St Antoine asked to be executed on Good Friday, 30 March. But the king was then sick and numerous sorcerers, assembled in the palace, made to cure him by superstitious ceremonies; moreover, he was soon to celebrate his marriage. It was feared that the torture of the Europeans would harm the effect of the spells and that an outpouring of human blood in the capital, would be an unfortunate omen for the royal wedding. This is why, the regent prescribed that the beheading of the condemned be committed on the peninsula of Syou-yeng, twenty-five miles south of Seoul.
The Bishop and his Priests were led on horseback to the designated place. Their hearts overflowed with joy and, to the astonishment of the officials and the curious, they addressed fervent thanksgiving to God, singing psalms and hymns. On Maundy Thursday, 29 March they had arrived fairly close to Syou-yeng. Archbishop Daveluy heard the officials chatting among themselves, deciding to delay the immolation of the confessors and first to parade them through the neighbouring town. Touched by a strong desire to die on the anniversary of the Saviour’s death, he interrupted them: “No, he cried, what you are saying is impossible. You will go tomorrow, right to the place of execution, because it is tomorrow that we must die.” The prisoner was obeyed and the next day, Good Friday, 30 March 1866, was the day of their Martyrdom.
The mandarin who presided over their torture enjoined the martyrs to bow down to him. It is the custom in Korea for convicts to salute those who kill them. Daveluy replied that he would greet in the French manner and he refused to kneel. A brutal push threw him face down. Another horrific incident marked the death of the holy Bishop, who was beheaded first. The executioner had not set the price for his bloody work. After striking the condemned man with the first blow of his saber, which cut his neck deeply, he stopped and refused to continue, unless he was promised a large sum. The avarice of the mandarin resisted these pretensions. Employees of the prefecture had to be brought together to make a decision. The discussion lasted a long time, the victim struggled on the ground in convulsions of agony, finally the deal was concluded and two new saber strokes delivered the soul of the witness of Jesus Christ.
The bodies of the Martyrs, buried in the sand at the very place of execution by pagans in the neighbourhood, were collected by Christians the following June and buried in the district of Hong-san, 3 miles from the coast. Transferred elsewhere as a result of various circumstances, they were exhumed in March 1882 by order of the preacher, Fr Blanc and in the following November they were sent to Nagasaki (Japan), in order to be protected from any profanation. They were brought back to Korea when there was no longer any fear of persecution and since 1900 they have been buried in the Seoul Cathedral.
Bishop Daveluy was a stubborn zealous worker. He was also distinguished by his spirit of renunciation and mortification, as much as by his perseverance and humility. Unfortunately, due to this humility, his important dictionary and most of his writings had not been sent to the Motherhouse and they were destroyed during the persecution.
All five were Canonised on 6 May 1984 by St Pope John Paul II, along with Father Kim, Bishop Berneux and 96 other Korean martyrs.