Blessed Columba Kang Wan-suk
CatholicTV Webathon Novena: Day 9
Thank you for dedicating nine days of your Lenten journey to the CatholicTV Webathon Novena. Today, on this ninth and final day of the Novena, we ask Blessed Columba Kang Wan-suk to pray for us.
Blessed Columba Wan-suk was a noble Korean woman, a stepmother, an underground catechist, a rejected wife, an asylum provider, a leader in the first Catholic Korean community, and a martyr.
In 1761, Columba Kang was born into a noble family in the province of Chungcheong, located in present-day South Korea. Soon after marrying a man who already had a son from another relationship, Columba Kang encountered Catholicism through books written by Jesuit missionaries. She was quickly convicted by the Gospel, and though she was unable to be baptized due to a lack of priests in the area, she began to live out the Catholic faith. When the Sinhae persecution of 1791 broke out, Columba Kang ministered to imprisoned Christians. This dangerous work led to her own brief imprisonment.
Throughout this time, Columba Kang catechized her stepmother and stepson, who also embraced the Faith. Columba Kang’s husband, however, was hostile to the Catholic faith and soon left to live with another woman. After this, Columba Kang moved to Seoul where she heard there was a burgeoning Catholic community. Once there, she financially helped sponsor a movement to bring priests from China to the region. In 1794, Father James Zhou arrived and baptized Columba Kang and all the other Christians. From then on, Columba Kang made it her mission to aid Fr. Zhou in his ministry. He was impressed by her faith and talent, and appointed her a catechist. When another Christian persecution broke out in 1795, Columba Kang hid Fr. Zhou in her home since she was not subject to searches as a noblewoman. Her house became a refuge and a meeting place for Catholics in Korea and she introduced many to the Catholic faith, including relatives of the Royal Family.
With the arrival of another Christian persecution in 1801, Columba Kang was arrested. She was tortured numerous times to try to make her reveal where Fr. Zhou was hidden, but she refused to give in. Apparently, her executioners were so impressed by her steadfast faith that they said “This woman is not a human being, but a god!” During her three-month imprisonment, she encouraged her fellow Catholic prisoners to remain faithful until the moment of their martyrdom. On July 2, 1801, Columba Kang was beheaded. Her stepson, Philip Hong, was also martyred in the same persecution.
Lord, please give us perseverance when we face persecution and challenges. May we always rejoice in the gift of faith and firmly defend this pearl of great price. We ask this through the intercession of Blessed Columba Wan-suk.
Fast from secular media and watch some of CatholicTV’s programming instead. We recommend an episode of Evangelista Bible Study.
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