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One hundred years ago…



Five Brothers murdered in Nantchang, China

24/02/2006: General House

Throughout 1904 in Kiang-Si, some Catholic families suffered some acts of violence, two chapels were burnt, sixty families robbed and seven Catholics killed. The mandarin, sub-prefect of the region of Nantchang, had been blamed for not having done anything against the criminals and for even promising impunity for the two principal people indicted.

This mandarin, who was called Kiang, wanted to find an amicable solution with the mission. Invited to dinner by Father Lacruche, of the Lazarist Fathers, he gave himself to the mission. He expressed his profound bitterness at not being appreciated by his superiors. After the meal, he retired to a bedroom and there he slit his throat.

The news raised the people against the mission, because in China you are always responsible for someone who dies in your house. The residence, the hospital and the school of the mission were invaded, ransacked and the missionaries killed. Five of our Brothers were killed: Brothers Léon, Louis-Maurice, Prosper-Victor, Joseph-Amphien and Marius. Two Lazarist Fathers were also killed as well as the family of a Protestant pastor.

Follows the letter of the bishop announcing the death of our 5 Brothers.

Kiou Kiang, 2nd March 1906.

My Reverend Brother,
You would have received the telegrams announcing the horrible news. I have wanted to write to you for several days, so please excuse me.
I do not want to try to console you… I have much need to call on my spirit of faith to find a bit of resignation. With you I cry, and I cry not only for my two excellent missionaries but also for my beloved Brothers of Nantchang. I cherished them, you know how much! And they were so happy in our school at Nantchang! Missionaries and Brothers form a family alive with veneration, affection and reciprocal devotion. I noted that in the first days of February and I was moved. Brother Léon told me with tears in his eyes how happy he and his Brothers were in Nantchang.
I cannot take in the reality of this horrible disaster: it is like a dream… These are victims, pure and holy victims, whose immolation, I am convinced of it, will make our mission at Nantchang flourish, and will also attract many graces on our entire Society. May this be our consolation!
This morning the identification of the bodies took place. I will send you a report about it in a few days. We are thinking of having the solemn funeral next Tuesday; I have just sent a telegram to advise you of this. If you would deign to come and be present, that would be a great consolation for me.

I would like to write you a longer letter but I am overburdened, so please excuse me.

At the feet of the crucified Jesus, I remain, my Reverend Brother, your totally devoted and desolate servant.
+ P. FERRANT, Bishop and Apostolic Vicar.

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