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Jun 01, 2021 293 Shalom Tidings
Encounter

A Korean Martyr Who Knew Nothing

Kim A-gi Agatha and her husband had no contact with Christianity or Catholic doctrine. They practiced Confucianism. But Agatha’s older sister, a devout Catholic, came for a visit. Looking around at the trappings of their traditional faith, including a large rice chest with ancestral tablets, she asked her younger sister, “Why are you holding on to these things? They are nothing but superstition!”

Her sister proclaimed that the one true ruler of the world is Jesus Christ. “Wake from your darkness,” she told her sister, “and accept the light of truth.”

Her sister’s urging aroused a great longing in Agatha. Knowing it would be difficult to go against her husband and the tradition of her family, she nonetheless determined to accept Christ and to suffer willingly whatever difficulties might come her way.

Agatha was not very bright and no matter how hard she tried, she was unable to memorize the morning and evening prayers. Eventually, she became known as the woman who knew nothing but “Jesus and Mary”. Because of her inability to learn doctrine and prayers, Kim A-gi Agatha was not initially baptized.

In September of 1836 Agatha and two other women were arrested for their Catholic faith. When interrogated Agatha remained firm and valiantly stood before her torturers saying, “I don’t know anything but Jesus and Mary. I will not reject them.” Her courageous witness led her to be the first to be baptized in prison during persecution.

Along with other condemned Christians, Agatha was tied by arms and hair to a large cross erected atop an ox cart. On the crest of a steep hill, guards forced the oxen to run headlong down. The road was rough, with many stones. The carts stumbled, causing great agony to the courageous prisoners who hung on the crosses. Following this ordeal, at the foot of the hill, the executioners violently beheaded each of the holy martyrs.

Agatha and eight other martyrs received their crown of glory at the same hour when Jesus breathed his last—three o’clock in the afternoon. Nearly one hundred years later Kim A-gi Agatha was beatified along with the other martyrs on July 5, 1925. They were canonized in their native Korea on May 6, 1984 by Pope John Paul II.

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