Hard times indeed
were those of the late terrible trouble for the Orthodox Christians in China.
The native flock was not numerous. The Orthodox prelates in China never made it
their special object to achieve a rapid increase in the number of their native
converts; but it has been the unanimous opinion of all that the Chinese greatly
incline towards Christianity and that the grace of God has not passed by this
people. The chief of our mission in Beijing, the Archimandrite Innocentius, has
sent a report on the sufferings endured by the Orthodox Chinese. In his letter
he says among other things:
"Any one who
knows under what conditions the Orthodox work was carried on in China will not
condemn the poor, neglected native Orthodox community. On the contrary, to it
may be applied the words of Scripture on the spirit of Christ: "Behold my
servant, whom I have chosen; my beloved, in whom my soul is well pleased. I will
put my spirit upon him and he shall show judgment to the Gentiles. He shall not
strive, nor cry; neither shall any man hear his voice in the streets" (Matth.
"In the midst of
the darkness of paganism, not only did the Orthodox community, weak and helpless
as it was, preserve its faith in Christ, but it put forth true confessors of
Christ during the last days of cruel ordeal.
"The chief day of
martyrdom for the Orthodox natives in Beijing was the 11th day of June 1900.
Proclamations had been posted, day before the calling on the heathens to
massacre the Christians and threatening with death any one who dared to give
them shelter. During the night from the 11th to the 12th of June Boxers with
lighted torches appeared in all the quarters of Beijing, assaulted the Christian
dwellings, seized the hapless inmates and tortured them, urging them to deny
Christ. Many, terrified by torments and the prospect of death, did so, to save
their lives, and burned incense before idols. But others, undaunted by torture,
courageously confessed Christ.
"The fate of
these martyrs was horrible: they were disembowelled, beheaded, burned in their
houses. The search for Christians and the massacres continued through all the
succeeding days of the mutiny. After their dwelling had been destroyed, they
were taken outside the city gates into the Boxers' heathen temples, and there
they were subjected to an interrogatory, then burned alive at the stake. We have
it from eye-witnesses, heathens themselves, that many of the Orthodox Chinese
met death with wonderful courage.
"Paul Wang, an
Orthodox catechizer, died with a prayer on his lips. A woman teacher of the
Mission was tortured twice. The Boxers first cut and slashed her and, leaving
her for dead, half covered her with earth. When she recovered consciousness, her
moans were heard by the guard (a heathen), and he carried her to his sentry-box.
But after a while the Boxers again seized her and this time did her to death. On
both occasions she joyfully confessed Christ before her tormentors. After the
horrors of the first night some peaceable Chinese found an eight-year-old boy,
Ivan Ji, the son of a priest who had been killed, dreadfully mutilated by the
Boxers, both his hands had been cut off, and there were wounds on his breast.
When asked if it hurt very much, he smilingly replied that suffering for Christ
did not hurt. This child-martyr was again seized by the Boxers who cut off his
head and burned his body."
"In the mission
alms-house 17 aged widows and young children suffered for the faith. The mission
and all its buildings, with all the property therein contained, were destroyed,
razed to the ground, the cemetery was dug up and the bones were cast out of the
graves. In other localities—Kalgan, Donding'an, Beidahe,—the Orthodox churches
and mission houses were demolished to their foundations.
"Such are the
losses suffered by the Orthodox Church in China. Yet the Orthodox community was
absolutely guiltless of causing the Boxer movement.
There is no doubt
that the conduct of the Europeans could not but arouse the natives' ire, for the
foreigners treat them as slaves and violate all their rights in their own
country. But the Orthodox community had no share in this, and in former times it
was never molested in any riot. Only this once anger against Russia, aroused by
various political circumstances, visited the innocuous Orthodox Christians with
a terrible and undeserved vengeance".