Worship at Seosomun Holy Ground
500 Catholics including 60 children and youths surrounding the Seosomun Martyr’s Holy Ground were praying “Prayer of Gratitude”, waiting for Pope Francis to arrive. The Catholics gathered today were people, who have lived near and taken care of the site with a special affection.
The participants were a parish Catholics of all ages and both genders, ranging from 100-day-old infants to a person in his or her eighties, and the residents of Seosomun district. In other words, the invitees were office workers who commute to the district, students preparing for exam, public servants of Jung-gu Office, and other people, who played a part in the development of the Seosomun Martyr Site. At the core of the group were the Catholics who were under a vow to pray “Prayer to Appreciate the 27 Blessed from the Seosomun Martyr’s Holy Ground” for 27 days.
Before greeting Pope Francis, Priest Lee Tae-suk (Seoul Archdiocese), a descendant of Peter Lee Seung-hoon, said, “The martyrs established the foundation for the Korean Catholic Church to grow.” “Today that their martyrdom is bearing fruit, the martyrs will be happy to see that their martyrdom was not vain.”
Sister Lee Soo-jin, who was invited to the prayer as a descendant of martyr Lee Yun Antonio, is also from the Order of Holy Family, which is one of Korean Religious Orders, which Pope Francis made the first relationship with Korea. Sister Lee said, “I am honored to be here representing not only my family but also the Korean Religious Orders, and I have prayed for the Pope.” She continued, “I came to know that I am a descendant of a martyr when I was tracing my family tree after I was admitted to the religious order. Since then, my family and I have prayed a lot and tried to spread the message of the Catholic Church.
Fr. Lee Jun-sung, a local priest of Jungrim-dong, Yakhyun parish, said, “Our prayer with the Pope will be an opportunity to fully reveal the hearts of the Seosomun martyrs.” He said, “The spirit of martyrdom is one of religious attitudes. But freedom, equality, and love are basic values for humankind, and these are what the martyrs have tried to protect.” “But the values were regarded as something very dangerous in Chosun Dynasty, which was based on a caste system,” he said, “Though you are not Catholic, you can share the spirit of the martyrs, who tried to show the universal values of humankind.” I hope that people will continue to remember the spirits of the martyrs, through this holy ground and the memorial.
Peter Sung Seok-he (age 14, Hwan-il Middle School) said, “It hasn’t been so long that I have started to go to the Catholic Church. So, it’s a great honor that I am given this chance to give flowers to the Holy Father.” Cho Yoon-ji Angela (age 13, Midong Elementary School), who was also chosen to deliver flowers, said, “I am very nervous to greet the Pope. I was a Catholic since I was born because my mother was a Catholic. I knew that I was chosen to give flowers when I came back from a summer camp. The Holy Father is the father of all people. My friends also like Pope Francis for his kindness and thrift.”
The limo (SOUL, KIA), in which Pope Francis was riding, showed itself at 8:50 a.m. The Pope stepped down and smiled to two children, who were holding flowers. The children put the flower basket in front of the sanctuary and walked down. At the martyrs’ tower, the Pope took a moment of silence to pray for a minute while closing his eyes, and crossed himself. Then, he turned back and gave blessing to Catholics.
Blessing was offered in Latin.
The full text of the Papal blessing is followed as below.
“The Lord be with you.”
“And with your spirit.”
“Glory to you, O Lord.”
“For now and forever.”
“All our supports are from the name of the Lord.”
“It’s him who made heaven and earth.”
“May the almighty God bless you.”
“The Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit.”
After the blessing, the Pope greeted first, decedents of martyrs, then, shook hands with children and seniors from the Jungrim-dong Yakhyun Church. After shaking hands with crowds one by one and having a photo time with the people, the Pope was done with the greetings and turned back. But then he heard a voice of a child calling him, and so he turned around again and greeted the other people.
Yanni(Anna Maria), Jungrim-dong, Yakhyun church is originally from Argentina. She asked the Pope when he approached to her, “Please bless my family,” and the Pope said “You have my blessing.” Yanni kissed on the pope’s ring, and the Pope blessed her with a warm hug. Yanni came to Korea 18 years ago and she spoke to the Pope in Spanish.
Jae-Seok Yoon (74, Peter), who introduced himself as the 8th descendent of Yoon Ji-Choong Paul, said, “It’s the most honorable and blessed moment in my whole life. I feel like I met my grandfather again. He’s so gracious and comfortable person to be with.”