• 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
Choe Chang-ju (Marcellinus)
Date of birth 1749 Sex man Place of birth Yeoju Gyeonggi-do Position/Status N.C.F.
Age 52 Date or martyrdom Apr. 25, 1801 Place of martyrdom Yeoju Gyeonggi-do Mode of martyrdom beheading
 Marcellinus Choe Chang-ju, also called ‘Yeojong`, was born in Yeoju, Gyeonggi-do to a noble family. It was when he was in his early 40s that he accepted Catholicism. He became a devout Catholic and dedicated himself to lead his whole family to God. He was arrested when the Sinhae Persecution broke out in 1791 and was taken to Gwangju. There, under all sorts of severe punishments, Marcellinus Choe gave up his religion and was set free. Barbara Choe Jo-i who was martyred in Jeonju in 1840 was his daughter.
   But, as soon as he returned home he regretted having renounced his religion. He repented his great sin and tried to find a way of washing it away through martyrdom. He tried to encourage his family and the believers to stay faithful to their religion. He gave his two daughters in marriage to devout Catholics. One of them was the wife of John Won Gyeong-do who was martyred in Yeoju in 1801. The other was Barbara Choe, the daughter-in-law of Peter Sin Tae-bo who was martyred in Jeonju in 1839.
   The persecution broke out again on Easter Sunday in the Yeoju area in 1800. Upon hearing the news that his son-in-law John Won Gyeong-do was arrested, Marcellinus Choe`s wife pleaded with him to take refuge. His mother also advised him to escape. He decided to leave home and to escape to Seoul. However, soon after this he renewed his resolution to die a martyr and returned home. He was arrested that same night by the police and was imprisoned in Yeoju.
   The magistrate immediately began to interrogate and torture Marcellinus Choe and tried to force him to reveal the names of the faithful. He firmly refused saying, "It is impossible to report on even a single believer because the Catholic Church forbids all acts that would do harm to others." Upon this declaration Marcellinus Choe was imprisoned again with John Won and Martin Yi Jung-bae.
   This time he was detained in prison for six months and in October he was taken to the governor`s office in Gyeonggi-do. There he was severely tortured in an attempt to force him to deny God, but his faith remained unshakable.
   When the Shinyu Persecution broke out in 1801 the governor took out all the Catholics in prison, to torture them to force them to betray their religion. Marcellinus Choe bravely responded on behalf of all his fellow Christians; "We cannot betray the Lord, because He granted us the happiness to know God, `our King and Father of all humankind` and to serve Him."
   On hearing this statement the governor increased the punishments, but, Marcellinus Choe and his fellow Catholics overcame all the punishment and temptation by encouraging one another. The governor, on realizing that there was no way to change their minds, asked them to write their final statements and reported them to the royal court. The royal court ordered that they be executed in their hometown to turn people against the Catholic religion. Thus, Marcellinus Choe and other Catholics were taken to Yeoju. They were beheaded and died martyrs on April 25, 1801 (March 13, by the Lunar calendar). Marcellinus Choe was 52 years old.
   The following is an excerpt from the last statement on Marcellinus Choe that the Gyeonggi governor submitted to the royal court:
   "Choe Chang-ju did not consider his father as a real father (saying the Lord is his father). He is such an evil person that he even had forgotten his father`s name. Despite severe punishment he did not confess the place where the Church books were. He said that he could not change his mind (his faith in the Catholic religion). Such acts destroy the moral law. Besides, he said he would willingly welcome death for his faith."