Saint Andrew Kim Taegon was the first Korean-born Catholic priest and is the patron saint of
Korea. In the late 18th century. Kim’s parents were converts and his father was subsequently
martyred for practising Christianity, a prohibited activity in heavily Confucian Korea. After
being baptized at age 15, Kim studied at a seminary in the Portuguese colony of Macau. He also
spent time in study at Lolomboy, Bocaue, Bulacan, Philippines, where today he is also
venerated. He was ordained a priest in Shanghai after nine years (1844) by the French bishop
Jean-Joseph-Jean-Baptiste Ferréol. He then returned to Korea to preach and evangelize. During
the Joseon Dynasty, Christianity was suppressed and many Christians were persecuted and
executed. Catholics had to covertly practise their faith. Kim was one of several thousand
Christians who were executed during this time. In 1846, at the age of 25, he was tortured and
beheaded near Seoul on the Han River. His last words were:

This is my last hour of life, listen to me attentively: if I have held communication with
foreigners, it has been for my religion and for my God. It is for Him that I die. My immortal life
is on the point of beginning. Become Christians if you wish to be happy after death, because God
has eternal chastisements in store for those who have refused to know Him. [4]

Before Ferréol, the first bishop of Korea, died from exhaustion on 3 February 1853, he wanted to
be buried beside Kim, stating, “You will never know how sad I was to lose this young native
priest. I have loved him as a father loved his son; it is a consolation for me to think of his eternal
happiness.” [4]

On 6 May 1984, Pope John Paul II canonized Kim along with 102 other Korean Martyrs,
including Paul Chong Hasang, during his trip to Korea. Their memorial is 20 September.


Compiled by Cheryl Sim