• Outline of Visit
  • The 6th Asian Youth Day
  • Overview of Beatification
  • Lives of the 124 Korean Martyrs
  • Mass for Peace and Reconciliation
HOME > Pilgrimage > Lives of the 124 Korean Martyrs
Rise up in splendor! (Isaiah 60,1)
Lives of the 124 Korean Martyrs
Hong Gyo-ma (Francis Xavier)
Date of birth 1738 Sex man Place of birth Seoul Position/Status Scholar N.C.F.
Age 63 Date or martyrdom Apr. 8, 1801 Place of martyrdom Small West Gate Seoul Mode of martyrdom beheading
 Francis Xavier Hong Gyo-man was born in Seoul, and later he moved to Pocheon, Gyeonggi-do. His family served as high-ranking officials in the royal court for generations. When he was young he studied diligently with his elder brother who was also a top official and passed the first state examination. Leo Hong In who was martyred in 1801 was his son. Charles Jeong Cheol-sang who was martyred in may 1801 was his son-in-law.
   When Francis Xavier Hong moved to Pocheon, he frequently visited his cousin Francis Xavier Kwon Il-sin, the son of his father‘s sister, living in Yanggeun. It was there he came to know about the Catholic religion, but he did not accept it immediately. Then, on hearing from his son Leo Hong, already a Catholic, a more detailed explanation of the doctrine he accepted it fully. Realizing that Catholicism was the true religion he had sought, and practiced it.
   When Father James Zhou Wen-mo came to Korea in 1794 Francis Xavier Hong went to visit him. He received the Sacrament of Baptism from Father James Zhou and attended Mass. From that time on he distanced himself from his non-Catholic acquaintances and concentrated on studying the Catholic doctrine in a deeper way, using his knowledge. He invited illiterate Catholics to his home, and taught them. He brought believers, who had given up their religion, back to the Church. He welcomed all those who visited him in search of the truth with open arms. It was indeed thanks to his ardent devotion that the Gospel was spread around the Pocheon region.
   When the Shinyu Persecution broke out in 1801 Francis Xavier Hong hid a box of Catholic books that belonged to Augustine Jeong Yak-jong, a relative by marriage, in his house. But one of the faithful who was moving the books was discovered by the police, and eventually Francis Xavier Hong`s name was revealed to the persecutors. When he heard the bad news, he escaped quickly with his son. However, realizing that he could not stay in hiding for long, he returned home and was soon arrested by the police.
   On February 14, Francis Xavier Hong was sent to the Supreme Court for interrogation and punishment. He did not surrender to any threat, and never ceased to explain to the persecutors that `the Catholic doctrine is the truth`. In fact, the persecutors were surprised at his courage and heroism. He said to them:
   "God is the Great Father of heaven and earth, thus, how can I neglect to serve Him? And how can I say that the Catholic religion that worships God, `our Great Father`, is an evil religion? This is the truth under heaven, thus we cannot say Jesus Christ is evil."
   After this pronouncement of his faith, they continuously tried to force Francis Xavier Hong to betray God but he stayed firm. The persecutors, realizing that they could not change his mind, pronounced the death sentence on him. He was taken, along with Augustine Jeong and Luke Hong Nak-min outside the Small West Gate in Seoul, beheaded and died a martyr. It was on April 8, 1801 (February 26 by the Lunar calendar). Francis Xavier Hong was 63 years old.