Wednesday, April 17, 2024

The Great Cloud of Witnesses

St. Theophane Venard
Fr. Lawrence Jagdfeld, O.F.M.

St. Theophane Venard

February 2

St. Theophane was a French missionary, born on November 21, 1829, and originally from the Diocese of Poitiers.  He entered into the Foreign Missions and was ordained a priest on June 5, 1852.  He departed for the Far East on September 19, the same year.  After fifteen months at Hong Kong, he arrived at his mission in West Tonkin, where the Christians had recently been tried by a series of persecutions under Minh-Menh, a monster of cruelty. Shortly after Father Venard’s arrival a new royal edict was issued against Christians, and bishops and priests were obliged to seek refuge in caves, dense woods, and elsewhere.  Father Venard, whose constitution had always been delicate, suffered almost constantly, but continued to exercise his ministry at night, and more boldly, in broad day.  On November 30, 1860, he was betrayed and captured.  Tried before a mandarin, he refused to apostatize and was sentenced to be beheaded.  He remained a captive, chained in a cage for months, from which he wrote to his family beautiful and consoling letters, joyful in anticipation of his crown.  His bishop, Msgr. Retord, wrote of him at this time, “Though in chains, he was as happy as a bird.” He was martyred on February 2, 1861. Canonized by Pope St. John Paul II, his feast is kept on February 2.

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