Thursday, March 4, 2010

What Makes a Living Martyr?

As in times past we have persons that are different-- they follow a different drummer. They don't listen to the vibes that come from the culture and are seen by some as drop outs: a word we do not like to hear. We want to be in step with those around us and when not, it makes for a difficult situation.

St. Francis of Assisi was one of those who was out of step with his times. St. Francis attracted many to his way of living, and if not attracted to his style of life they admired him as a person, even by those who had little attraction for his religion.

About a hundred years ago a man was born here in Korea who was considered the St. Francis of Korea. He was born into a wealthy family; went to College in Japan, and in Beijing China studying philosophy and languages. He was attracted to socialistic and communistic ideas. Joined the forces for Independence and even toyed with nihilism. It was during this time he picked up a book in Japan on the life of St. Francis which moved him deeply. He was not attracted to Catholicism but to St.Francis. He saw Catholicism as a religion of the Bourgeois, and this did not change until he read a book by St. Thomas Aquinas on the Church's teaching on money. He returned home and was baptized with the name Francis.

He turned all his land over to the tenants; donated the rest of the land to the diocese of Kwangju, and was satisfied with a small house in which to live. He had a family of 7.

With his small salary as a teacher and obligations to his family he continued to help those poorer than himself. On one occasion he didn't have enough money to pay his Denarius Cultus (donations to the church), so the pastor told him he couldn't go to the sacraments at Christmas. This so angered one of his sons that he left the church for many years. The father had no difficulty with what the priest said, and did what he was asked to do. You have many Christians who are more Catholic than their priest.

The daughter writing amount her father mentions that not once did he tell his children to study hard, but rather be an ordinary person. With Kim Francis it was not only material poverty, but poverty of power and honors. Our society needs disciples who have a vision of this type, and it was his daughter who said in reminiscing about her father that she admires her mother even more than her father for the mother was the unspoken martyr of their life style.


  1. Would it be possible to post his Korean name? I'd like to learn more about him.

  2. "한국의 성 프란치스코 야인 김익진"

    한국천주교중앙협의회(경향잡지), 경향잡지, 경향잡지 2003년 2월호(통권 1619호), 36~40쪽(총5쪽)

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