The Pope has approved the advancement of the causes for canonization of over one hundred lay Catholics persecuted for their faith, as well as a bishop, a religious sister, and two priests.
In a decree on Feb. 7, Pope Francis authorized the Congregation for the Causes of the Saints to promulgate the causes of these Catholics in the various stages of the canonization process.
Layman Paul Yun Ji-chung, along with 123 others who lived in Korea between 1791 and 1888, was recognized for his martyrdom in refusal to renounce the Catholic faith. Yun Ji-chung came from a noble family and converted to Catholicism at the age of 28, eventually helping his mother and and other family members to convert as well.
In 1790, three years after his baptism, Yun Ji-chung’s bishop declared the ancestral rites to be prohibited. The following year, the young man incurred the wrath of the authorities by rejecting the use of Confucian ancestral rites for his mother’s funeral, insisting upon their irrationality.
After his steadfast adherence to the faith, he was beheaded on December 8, 1791 at the age of 32.
Another martyr, Franciscan priest Father Francesco Zirano, was recognized with the title, “servant of God.” Killed in 1603 in Algiers, Father Zirano suffered a brutal death of being skinned alive.
The priest had travelled to Algiers in an attempt to rescue his cousin who had been captured by pirates and made a slave, but Father Zirano was beaten and put into prison soon after his arrival.
Due to a case of mistaken identity, the priest was sentenced to death. He refused to renounce his faith and spent his last days encouraging the other Christians in prison. Father Zirano was executed on January 25, 1603.
Friday’s decree also included the pronouncement of “heroic virtue” for three others who died in the last century: Jesus Maria Echavarria y Aguirre, Bishop of Saltillo, Mexico and founder of the Catechist Sisters of Guadalupe, died in 1954; Father Faustino Ghilardi of the Order of Friars Minor, who died in 1937; and Sister Maria Rocio of Jesus Crucified, who belonged to the Congregation of the Sisters of the Love of God and died in 1956.