Saint Marie Nicolas Antoine Daveluy, the Martyr Bishop

Saint Marie Nicolas Antoine Daveluy, the Martyr Bishop

Antoine Daveluy was born 16 March 1818 in Amiens, France. His father was a factory owner, town councilman and government official. The members of his family were devout Catholics and two of his brothers became priests. He entered the St Sulpice Seminary in Issy-les-Moulineaux himself, in October 1834 and was Ordained a Priest on 18 December 1841.

His first assignment was as an assistant Priest in Roye. Despite poor health, he joined the Paris Foreign Missions Society on 4 October 1843. He departed for East Asia on 6 February 1844, intending to serve as a Missionary in the Ryukyu Islands of Japan. He arrived in Macau, where he was persuaded by the newly appointed Apostolic Vicar of Korea, Jean-Joseph-Jean-Baptiste Ferréol, to accompany him there instead. The two were joined by St Andrew Kim Taegŏn, a Korean Seminarian who had been studying for the Priesthood in Macau. They first traveled to Shanghai, where Bishop Ferréol ordained Father Kim on 17 August 1845. The three priests then made a stormy crossing by sea to Korea, arriving in Chungcheong Province in October.

Father Daveluy began work as a Missionary in Korea. Two years later, he was in charge of the Seminary. He then took over the administration of a district, while doing it, he scrupulously prepared a Chinese-Korean-French dictionary, translated several Korean works of history and chronology and revised the books of the Faith.

On 13 November 1855, Pope Pius IX appointed him titular Bishop of Akka and coadjutor to Bishop Siméon-François Berneux, who had been appointed Apostolic Vicar in 1854 after the death of Bishop Ferréol in 1853. He was Consecrated by Bishop Berneux on 25 March 1857. After Bishop Berneux was executed during a campaign by the Korean government against Christians, Bishop Daveluy became Apostolic Vicar on 8 March 1866.

He was arrested on 11 March. Imprisoned and tortured, he staunchly defended his Catholic faith. When he appeared before his judges, he was able, thanks to his in-depth knowledge of the Korean language, to make several long apologetic explanations for Christianity. Perhaps for this reason but above all, because of his dignity as grand master of the Faith in their eyes, he had to suffer more frequently and more severely than his companions – whipping the legs, blows with wooden batons and puncturing with the sharpened rods.

Finally, the court imposed a death sentence against the three prisoners. St Antoine asked to be executed on Good Friday. The Bishop and his Priests were led on horseback to the designated place. Their hearts overflowed with joy and, to the astonishment of the officials and the curious, they addressed fervent thanksgiving to God, singing psalms and hymns.

On Maundy Thursday, 29 March they had arrived fairly close to Syou-yeng. Archbishop Daveluy heard the officials chatting among themselves, deciding to delay the immolation of the confessors and first to parade them through the neighbouring town. Touched by a strong desire to die on the anniversary of the Saviour’s death, he interrupted them: “No! What you are saying is impossible. You will go tomorrow, right to the place of execution, because it is tomorrow that we must die.” The prisoner was obeyed and the next day, Good Friday, 30 March 1866, was the day of their Martyrdom.

Other Saints of the Day
1. Saint Peter Regulatus
2. Saint Clinius
3. Saint Domninus
4. Saint John Climacus
5. Saint Leonard Muraildo

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