Vous êtes sur la page 1sur 3


10 September 15, 2010

They Died in China

The Forgotten War on Catholic Priests
Theresa Moreau
The blood of the martyrs
is the seed of the Church. Back in 1883, when Father Ephrem missions and of winning vocations by
–Tertullian, from the “Apologeticus” arrived in the valley, the Imperial Peking- bringing pagans to the Church. Two years
Kalgan Railway didn’t exist. Construction later, on April 29, 1928, the abbey opened
wouldn’t even begin until 1905. The fastest a daughter house, Our Lady of Joy, with
mode of travel consisted of jostling along 95 Community members, about 3 miles
The End
atop a mule, along narrow dirt ways from Tchengtingfu, in the province of Hopei

ather Chrysostomus Chang plumbed through the fields and plains. To reach the (old form of Hebei).
the depths of his human will for a stony plateau in the Taihang Mountains in By the time Christmas 1936 rolled
supernatural strength. With only a Huailai County, a traveler had to be on alert around, Our Lady of Consolation was at
few minutes remaining of his life in the through the heavily wooded areas, on the its height, with the Community numbering
material world, he lifted his thoughts to the lookout for bandits and bears. Along the around 120 monks, mostly Chinese natives,
spiritual. Through screams from the mob, death-defying paths, one had to rely on who had attended Mass in the abbey’s
he addressed his confreres at his side one trustworthy mules that tested the rock- chapel built for the faithful from the
last time, to prepare them not for death, strewn trails with their hooves before surrounding villages.
but for life everlasting: “We’re going to die putting weight down, hugging close to Even though majestic, the abbey
for God. Let us lift our hearts one more towers of sheer rock reaching skyward to reflected the austere nature of any cloister
time, in offering our total beings.” avoid falling straight down the ravine on of Trappists, the common name for the
Helpless, the six Trappist monks stood the other side. Order of Cistercians of the Strict
handcuffed and chained on a makeshift Don Bosco suggested that the To form a Trappist religious Observance, an offshoot of the Order of
platform, targets of a throng of frenzied Chinese abbey be christened Community from a valley of rocks seemed St. Benedictine. The new order, established
hatred that surged toward them. The blood- Our Lady of Consolation. intimidating, but not impossible. With in 1664 at the Abbey of La Trappe, aimed
encrusted, lice-infested men, wearing rags religious recruits from Europe and the local to follow more closely the literal translation
caked in their own filth, had nowhere to The Beginning villages, despite a slow start, eventually, of “The Rule of St. Benedict” and focused
run, no one to help them. After six months on those rocks, they built their church, Our on the penitential aspect of monasticism:
of mind-bending interrogations and body- The saga of Our Lady of Consolation Lady of Consolation, an impressive replica little food, no meat, hard manual labor and
rending torture, it was over. It was all over. began 64 years earlier on June 16, 1883. of the architectural beauty at Mount St. strict silence.
The verdict had just been read by a On that glorious day, as the hot summer Bernard Abbey. Life inside the abbey’s walls was
Chinese Communist officer: Death! to be wind from the Gobi Desert carried its Pilgrims arriving for the first time and peaceful even if life outside was anything
carried out immediately. golden dust eastward, and the cicada looking down upon the abbey from any but. The Republican Revolution of 1911
Hundreds of crazed peasants, with fists nymphs emerged reborn, buzzing in ridge high in the surrounding mountains, ended the centuries-long dynastic rule and
raised, with contorted faces, with spit on celebration of their emergence into new saw a Community so large inside its made way for the Chinese Nationalist
their lips, screamed rehearsed slogans of life from their old shell of death, Father enclosure, it appeared like any village in Party (Kuomintang), which became
approval at the approaching slaughter. Ephrem Seignol, a Trappist monk, stood the hills. The church was encircled by China’s official government, formed by a
Executioners – reliable Party henchmen – on a ledge, in the shadow of West Soul several single-story buildings and three number of Republican cliques that had
readied their rifles to exterminate the Mountain. Atop a ridge nearly 10,000 feet courtyards. A vegetable garden sprouted ousted the traditional rulers. Then the
Roman Catholic monks, believers in the high, that much closer to God, he glimpsed up in the middle of the valley, along with Communists in Moscow, the Red capital
superstitious cult, lovers of the God on the for the first time the valley of Yang Kia its blossoming fruit trees and, of course, a of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics,
Cross imported from the Imperialist West. Ping (translation: Yang Family Land). luscious vineyard, where Brother Ireneus sent some of its cogs in the Communist
And so it happened on January 28, Before his eyes, lay the birthplace of the Wang, the self-taught viticulturist, tenderly International machine to Shanghai, where
1948, in the dead of winter in Pan Pu Tsun, Trappist Community in China. coaxed the grapes, harvested for the Mass the Comintern successfully established the
an unmapped village, a frigid heathen hell With him, Father Ephrem had brought wine. Communist Party in 1921.
in the Mongolian mountains, somewhere little else except his dreams, his duties of From the Chinese countryside, and Communists successfully infiltrated the
in the frozen north of the Republic of China. state, God’s will and the name of the future even from the highly cultured, international Nationalist political organization by
Just over the ridge from the abbey. Before he had departed for China port city of Shanghai, many boys and men clandestine means. But in 1927, the
pandemonium staged by the soulless from his priory in Tamie, France, from the had felt the call to the austere Trappist way Nationalists – headed by Generalissimo
Chinese Communists – believers in the West for the East, from the Occident for of life, with its silence and solitude, prayer Kai-Shek Chiang – uncovered and ousted
materialistic cult, lovers of the god of death the Orient, he visited his close friend Father and penance. The abbey had been blessed its Red contingent, because of its
and destruction – lay the charred ruins of John Bosco, in Turin, Italy. The future saint with vocations: oblates, postulants and incitement and sadistic fondness of mob
Our Lady of Consolation, the once-majestic suggested that the abbey be christened with novices. So many joined the Community, violence – especially at the encouragement
abbey the monks had called home. the same name as the chapel in which they in fact, that Pope Pius XI, in his 1926 of its ringleader Tse-Tung Mao. That
Jostled in the madness, the monks fell were sitting: Our Lady of Consolation. And encyclical “Rerum Ecclesiae,” lauded the ejection in 1927 ignited the highly volatile,
to their knees. With their swollen hands so it would be. monks for their exceptional work in the Continued Next Page
tied and chained behind their backs, they The Trappists had answered a call from
couldn’t even cross themselves – In the Roman Catholics in the village of Fan Shan.
name of the Father and of the Son and Desperate for Mass and the sacraments
of the Holy Ghost – a final time. on a regular basis, the Chinese natives had
The death squad – Communist soldiers enticed the monks with an offer to sell to
at the ready – loaded their rifles with fresh the religious order an immense valley of
rounds of ammo. Shots rang out. One, then rocky, untilled, virgin land in Chahar
the next, followed by the next, the monks province (now Inner Mongolia Autonomous
collapsed upon the blood-splattered, frozen Region and Hebei province).
ground. Their lifeless bodies were dragged Yang Kia Ping, approximately 60
to a nearby sewage ditch and dumped into square miles in size, about 75 miles – as
a heap, one on top of the other. Alerted by the Mongolian ring-necked pheasant flies
the shots, wild dogs, roaming the village’s – northwest of Peking (old form of Beijing),
dirt roads, scavenging for scraps, scurried the northern capital of what was at that
over to the bodies to investigate. Sniffing, time Imperial China, where Empress
they lapped up the warm blood, steaming Dowager Cixi ruled from the Inner Palace
in the icy air. of the Forbidden City. Travel to the site of
It was all over. Our Lady of the future abbey was measured in days, The Abbey of Our Lady of Consolation in China was so successful
Consolation was no more. not hours. that Pius XI praised it in his 1926 encyclical “Rerum Ecclesiae”
September 15, 2010 11
It was an official visit, the Reds claimed, as per the so beautiful. At home, we are buried like dogs,” the
orders of Long Ho and Te Chu, the commanders-in-chief assistant said, adding, “The general treats me like a dog.
of their army. The Communists demanded the monks hand If I could, I would try to kill him.”
over what they had hidden in their arsenal. When the “Don’t do it here,” Brother Adrianus said.
monks responded that they didn’t have any weapons Weeks later, Communist soldiers arrived at the abbey
secretly stashed, the Communists refused to accept that and arrested Brother Adrianus, claiming that the officer’s
answer. assistant had revealed under torture that the monk had
They grabbed Father Antonius Fan, the prior, and suggested the general be assassinated. The Brother’s
dragged him out to the orchard, where they drew a rope room was searched, and soldiers found a notebook with
over his chest and under his arms tied behind his back, the following entry, a quote from the abbot, Father Alexis:
then strung him up on a tree. For three hours, he dangled, “Pray God to destroy the Communists.”
with his toes just a breath away from touching the ground, Soldiers arrested the abbot, Father Alexis, and Father
until he was cut lose. Maurus Bougon, who had been the guest master during
Completely under the Red thumbs of the Communists, the general’s stay.
the monks secretly made plans to get out. On October 25, 1945, all arrested were hauled off to
On April 4, 1940, the exodus began. In the first group, Huang An, a village about 20 miles from the abbey, where
five oblates sneaked by the cadres and made their way they were imprisoned in a small room without furniture,
over the mountains to the abbey’s daughter house, Our without heat. Father Alexis and Father Maurus had their
Lady of Joy, in Hopei province, about 190 miles southwest feet shackled to the floor with irons all winter long, until
of Peking. In the following months, by dribs and drabs, 25 March, when the abbey received a notice: Send the mules
more members of the Community – including novices, to fetch the abbot and the other prisoners. On March 17,
simple professed and young priests – successfully reached 1946, all were returned to the abbey and set free except
the house of refuge. In a final disappearing act, 12 oblates the abbot, Father Alexis, who was ordered to leave China.
Rev. Fr. Dom Ephrem Seignol, first Superior and
walked all the way to the Marist Brothers residence a Right before departing China for his homeland of
Founder of Our Lady of Consolation, Yang Kia Ping. few miles outside the walls of Peking. France, Father Alexis made an announcement on
When the cadres noticed the dwindling numbers in December 1, 1946, in the Chapter Room, where the monks
the Community, the Party goons decided they had to do met daily for the reading of a chapter from “The Rule of
something. But for six months, the abbey had no trouble St. Benedict.” He informed the Community that in the
on-again-off-again Chinese Civil War between the from them. So thinking the Reds had changed their ways, absence of a father abbot, Father Michaelus Hsu was to
Nationalists and Communists, between Chiang and Mao, it was decided that those members of the Community be the superior of the Community.
which ravaged China for more than two decades. who had been sent away would be called back home. Intelligent and highly cultured, Father Michaelus had
Also a factor was the Empire of Japan, which saw Around March 1941, by the time most of the young been born in the Tsing-Pu district of Shanghai on March
the fractures in China’s infrastructure as an opportunity men had been recalled to the abbey, the Communists pulled 18, 1901, into a family with an aristocratic background.
to make land grabs. In an attempt to establish their own back their masks and placed the whole Community under He was a direct descendant (12th generation) of Prime
political and economic domination, in 1931, the Japanese house arrest. Under constant surveillance, every move Minister Kuang-Chi “Paul” Hsu – a member of Empress
invaded Manchuria, a region in northeast China, where was watched. Nothing could be done by the monks Dowager Cixi’s Imperial Court, guardian and tutor of the
they wanted to get their hands on China’s natural resources without permission of the Communists. No one went in; sons of the Imperial House and chancellor of the National
of coal, iron, gold and giant forests. Six years later, on no one went out unless authorized. Institute. After his death in 1633, the prime minister was
July 7, 1937 (referred to as 7-7-7), the Second Chinese- At the time, politically, strategically, the Communists buried with great honors. But, perhaps, most importantly,
Japanese War began when the Imperial Japanese Army were busy building up their military strength and setting he had been converted to the Faith by Father Matteo Ricci
marched victoriously into Peking, then into Shanghai and up their own administrative system in northern China, (Society of Jesus), an Italian and one of the founding
on and on throughout China. including the areas around the abbey. For, during World fathers of the Jesuit mission in China.
As the Japanese advanced, the Nationalists withdrew War II, the Communists had tricked the Nationalists into As for Father Maurus, upon his return from
from Peking and northern China. The Japanese could not a civil-war truce, feigning the two could join forces to imprisonment, his religious superiors in Europe gave him
fill all the holes left by the Nationalists in their retreat, and fight the Japanese. However, the Reds had no intentions an ultimatum: Return to France, or minister to a parish in
the areas left vacant and vulnerable were taken over by of keeping the truce, but used it as an opportunity to make China. He chose to remain in China and was appointed a
the Communists – the party opposing the Nationalists. sure the Nationalists were worn down by the war against parish priest in Peimong, south of Peking. As the abbey
In October 1937, only a few months after the outbreak the Japanese. restructured its hierarchy, the local Communists continued
of the Second Chinese-Japanese War, the Communists With the end of World War II, on August 15, 1945, to set up and strategize for the upcoming “struggle” against
reached Huailai County and the valley of Yang Kia Ping. the Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the monks.
Our Lady of Consolation found itself between the two Japanese forces retreated from their positions around the In the “Communist Manifesto,” Karl Marx wrote,
forces: Japanese soldiers to the north and the east; world, thus withdrawing from China. The end of the war “The history of all hitherto existing society is the history
Chinese Communist soldiers to the south and the west. also ended the so-called truce between Mao’s Communists of class struggles.” Marx’s philosophy of the “struggle,”
A peace existed, but only tentatively. The Japanese and Chiang’s Nationalists. The all-out civil war between later coined dialectical materialism, can be understood in
had not been hostile to the abbey; to the contrary, they the two ensued in a brutal fight, with Mao chomping down a formula: Thesis plus antithesis equals synthesis. To make
had been respectful, out of reverence for the spiritual on Chiang, eventually hounding him all the way to Formosa
Continued Next Page
nature of the Community. (old Portuguese name of Taiwan).
So, too, the Communists treated the monks with But the Nationalists weren’t the only targets during
respect, face to face, but they were not sincere. Avowed the civil war. The Communists also started targeting other
atheists, Communists consider religion to be one of the enemies: counterrevolutionaries, religious believers and
evils of the traditional, feudal, “old” world – a declared landlords. The Trappists were all three.
enemy in Karl Marx’s “Communist Manifesto,” published The Communists wanted to destroy the abbey and its
in 1848. Also, because the abbey had been established by Community. But to legitimize their destruction of the abbey,
Europeans, the monks were considered Western invaders, they needed to produce evidence that the monks
imperialistic enemies of the Chinese Marxists, who committed some sort of crime.
disregarded the fact that Marxism was yet another In August 1945, during the hottest days of the summer,
European import. the Communists began turning up the heat even more.
For two years, the Reds, experts at gathering and For health reasons, supposedly, a Communist general, a
using information as power, continued their faux friendship commissioner of the People, and his assistant stopped off
with the monks, as they secretly gathered intelligence from at the abbey for a bit of a rest. It was not all that unusual
the Community. for travelers to lodge for short periods in Yang Kia Ping,
On October 15, 1939, around noon, the oblates – the what all the locals called Our Lady of Consolation.
youngest members of the abbey’s Community – headed However, ever wary of the Communists, the abbot, Father
outside the enclosure for their usual Sunday walk in the Alexis Baillon, assigned Brother Adrianus Wang, the sub-
mountains, where they liked to climb sections of the Great guest master, to keep an eye on the two guests during
Wall. When they reached Gate No. 1, at the third enclosure their stay, which coincided with a burial inside the
wall, the young monks-in-training found hundreds of enclosure.
Communist soldiers blocking their exit. Not permitted to The general’s assistant attended the funeral and, later,
Father Michaelus Hsu was made superior of the
leave, the youths notified the porter, who notified more expressed his admiration to Brother Adrianus for the Community after Father Abbot was banished from China
monks, who notified the superior. solemnity and beauty of the ceremony: “The funeral was
12 September 15, 2010

They Died in China

T. Moreau/Continued from Page 11 confronted and hauled before a People’s
it even simpler and to apply it to the Court. A staged mass struggle meeting was
Chinese Communist agenda: Minor orchestrated by the Communists. Charged
enemies pitted against major enemy equals and declared guilty of oppressing the
new minor enemies pitted against a new People, the lay brothers were ordered to
major enemy. hand over some of the abbey’s goats and
The struggle was a form of elimination cows to the People.
that – when enacted by Mao and his The next day, July 2, 1947, two
henchmen – eliminated political enemies, messengers arrived at the abbey and
minor and major. To prepare for the proper ordered Father Seraphinus Hsih and Father
political struggle nationally, Communists Chrysostomus Chang to stand trial before
began establishing neighborhood a People’s Court. Under guard, the monks
associations in China’s cities and peasant were marched about 1.5 miles south of the
associations in the villages. The abbey, down to a dry riverbed in the village
associations held mandatory political of Li Chia Wan Tze. Forced onto a
meetings, brainwashing sessions organized platform, the two stood before a gathering Enemies of the People: Martyred Trappist Monks of Our Lady of Consolation
to push the Party’s particular struggle of peasants, assembled from many
against whomever the current political villages in the surrounding areas. “These monks are guilty,” shouted in the abbey in times of danger, had sought
enemy was. Accused of alleged offenses that had cadres. “Do you agree or disagree?” food in the abbey in times of famine, had
At times, when a particular enemy occurred almost 50 years before, the two “We agree!” the peasants shouted sought relief in the abbey in times of stress.
was to be targeted and “struggled” against, had to answer to certain charges: That back. The very same peasants who had bestowed
the enemy could be attacked at either a during the time of the Boxer Rebellion in “The will of the People must be the abbey with several memorial tablets
small session (attended by members of a 1900, for example, foreign troops had fulfilled. For this, the abbey must give as gifts of appreciation for the years of
single association) or at a large rally oppressed the People of north China and property to the People,” the judge ruled. selfless aid.
(attended by members of several that Our Lady of Consolation had been built “Are you with us or not?”
neighboring associations). Attendance by with indemnities exacted from the Chinese “With you!” screamed the peasants, (To Be Continued Next Issue)
members was always mandatory. At a government by the foreign powers. the same peasants who had sought refuge Martyred in China
large struggle rally, the targets were usually
placed on a raised platform before
hundreds and hundreds of members who A Remnant Catechetical Series…
screamed rehearsed slogans as cadres
walked through the crowds, agitating and
inciting rage. Violence – often sadistic and
fatal – was encouraged and regarded as
legitimate acts of revenge by the oppressed
Grounds of Catholic Doctrine
People against their oppressors.
The Trappists of Our Lady of by Pope Pius IV and that the souls therein detained are
A Profession of the Catholic Faith
Consolation were considered oppressors. helped by the suffrages of the faithful

They were also considered major enemies. , N.N., with a firm faith, believe and neither will I ever take and interpret them Likewise, that the saints reigning
In the province of Chahar, there was one profess all and every one of those things otherwise than according to the unanimous together with Christ are to be honored and
Communist official who wanted the abbey which are contained in the Creed which consent of the Fathers. invocated, and that they offer prayers to
destroyed and its members “liquidated.” A the holy Roman Church maketh use of. I also profess that there are truly and God for us, and that their relics are to be
bitter fanatic, he searched for someone To wit: I believe in one God, the Father properly seven Sacraments of the new law, held in veneration.
with a like mind, and eventually he found Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, of instituted by Jesus Christ, our Lord, and I most firmly assert that the images of
the perfect Party man for the job and all things visible and invisible – and in one necessary for the salvation of mankind, Christ, of the Mother of God, ever virgin,
appointed him to take care of the Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son though not all for everyone; to wit, Baptism, and also of other saints, may be had and
extermination. That man was an ambitious of God, and born of the Father before all Confirmation, Eucharist, Penance, Extreme retained, and that due honor and veneration
man who hated everything having to do ages; God of God; Light of Light; true God Unction, Orders and Matrimony, and that are to be given them.
with God and loved everything having to of true God; begotten, not made; they confer grace; and that of these, I also affirm that the power of
do with the Communist Party. He was also consubstantial to the Father, by whom all Baptism, Confirmation and Orders cannot indulgences was left by Christ in the
an intelligent man who had attended a things were made; who, for us men, and be reiterated without sacrilege. And I also Church, and that the use of them is most
university in Peking where he passed his for our salvation, came down from heaven, receive and admit the received and wholesome to Christian people.
law exams. That man, like Mao, was from and was incarnate by the Holy Ghost of approved ceremonies of the Catholic I acknowledge the Holy, Catholic,
a family of landowners (considered the Virgin Mary, and was made man; was Church, used in the solemn administration Apostolic, Roman Church for the mother
oppressors, enemies of the People), and crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate; of all the aforesaid sacraments. and mistress of all churches; and I promise
also like Mao, he renounced his family. He suffered and was buried, and the third I embrace and receive all and every true obedience to the bishop of Rome,
That man was Tui-Shih Li. day he rose again, according to the one of the things which have been defined successor to St. Peter, prince of the
The struggle against the abbey began Scriptures; he ascended into heaven; sits and declared in the holy Council of Trent, Apostles and vicar of Jesus Christ.
in April 1947. At the peasant association at the right hand of the Father, and is to concerning original sin and justification. I likewise undoubtedly receive and
meetings in the villages surrounding the come again with glory to judge the living I profess, likewise, that in the Mass profess all other things delivered, defined,
Trappist Community, the Communists and the dead, of whose kingdom there shall there is offered to God a true, proper and and declared by the sacred canons and
began agitating the peasants, turning them be no end. And (I believe) in One, Holy, propitiatory sacrifice for the living and the general councils and particularly by the holy
against the monks. The cadres told the Catholic, and Apostolic Church; I confess dead. And that in the most holy sacrament Council of Trent; and I condemn, reject
peasants that all the land the monks one baptism for the remission of sins; and of the Eucharist there are truly, really, and and anathematize all things contrary
possessed actually belonged to the People; I look for the resurrection of the dead, and substantially, the Body and Blood, together thereto, and all heresies which the Church
that the monks were trying to be lords over the life of the world to come. with the Soul and Divinity of our Lord Jesus has condemned, rejected and
the peasants; that the monks were the I most steadfastly admit and embrace Christ; and that there is made a conversion anathematized.
oppressors and that the peasants were the apostolical and ecclesiastical traditions, and of the whole substance of the bread into I, N.N., do at this present freely
oppressed People. For two months, this all other observances and constitutions of the Body, and of the whole substance of profess and sincerely hold this true Catholic
continued until, finally, they struck the the same Church. the wine into the Blood, which conversion faith, without which no one can be saved;
abbey. I also admit the Holy Scripture the Catholic Church calls and I promise most constantly to retain and
On July 1, 1947, two monks were according to that sense which our holy Transubstantiation. I also confess that confess the same entire and inviolate, with
tending some livestock on the abbey’s Mother the Church has held, and does hold, under either kind alone Christ is received God’s assistance, to the end of my life.
property in Hsing Chuang, about 1 mile to which it belongs to judge of the true whole and entire, and a true sacrament. I
north of the enclosure wall, when they were sense and interpretation of the Scriptures; constantly hold that there is a Purgatory (To Be Continued Next Issue)