St. Augustine Zhao Rong and Companions, Martyrs of China
Feast: July 9
The 120 martyrs of China were canonized by Pope John Paul II in 2000. They were killed by various Chinese dynasties over a 400-year period.
The group consists of 87 Chinese converts and 33 foreign missionaries, mainly European; they were bishops, priests, seminarians, lay men and women, and children.
Augustine Zhao Rong is honored by name because he was the first Chinese diocesan priest to be executed. As a soldier, he had guarded a Catholic bishop held prisoner, and was so moved by the bishop’s demeanor that he became a Christian and a priest.
He died in 1815 after being tortured. At their canonization, the pope said the martyrs had “a state of mind marked by deep serenity and joy.”