Washington D.C., Aug 30, 2017 / 02:01 am
As the opioid addiction crisis rises to the threshold of a national emergency, the story of a little-known Catholic saint from the early 20th century is offering hope to those devastated by it.
Saint Mark Ji Tianxiang, who suffered from an addiction to opium until the end of his life, was martyred in July of 1900, during the Boxer Rebellion – a violent anti-colonial and anti-Christian uprising that took place in Northern China around 1900.
"He gives hope in the most important way for addicts – even though you are struggling with some addictive behavior, your dignity as a human person is still intact and you are destined for greatness," Dr. Gregory Bottaro, executive director of the Catholic Psych Institute, told CNA.
According to the New York Times, over 52,000 people died in 2015 from drug overdoses. While the official statistics have yet to be available, that number is expected to rise to 59-65,000 deaths for the following year. In a study that ranged from 2000 to 2015, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that six out of ten drug overdoses involve opioids, and that an estimated 91 people die every day from opioid abuse.
Ji used opium to treat a severe stomach ailment, and he soon became addicted to the drug.