"Preaching the Lamb of God, ye were also slain as lambs..."

Orthodox Martyrs in Beijing

The month of June of 1900, when Boxers were soaking Beijing in Christian blood, gave China her first Orthodox martyrs.

"Of the 1,000 flock of the Russian Ecclesiastical Mission about 300 have been lost. A few of them renounced the Faith, but most, numbered 222, became holy confessors and martyrs for Christ."[26]

Archimandrite Innocent, then Chief of the Mission, later Metropolitan, and Archimandrite Abraham, testify of their martyrdom in the following words:

"The day of reckoning for most Orthodox Chinese was June 11, 1900. On the eve of that day leaflets were posted in the streets, calling for the massacre of the Christians and threatening anyone who would dare to shelter them with certain death. In the middle of the night gangs of Boxers with flaming torches spread over Beijing, attacking Christian houses, seizing Christians and forcing them to deny Christ. Some, terrified by torture and death, indeed renounced the Faith in exchange for life and burned incense before idols. Others, undaunted, confessed Christ. Their fate was horrible. They were ripped open, beheaded, burned alive. After that day search for Christians and killings continued: Christian houses were destroyed, people brought out of town to where Boxers' temples were set up, interrogated and burned at the stake.

"As even the non-Christian bystanders would admit, Orthodox Chinese faced their death with astounding courage. Orthodox catechist Paul Wang died with a prayer on his lips. Ia Wang, a Mission school teacher, suffered martyrdom twice. First time the Boxers slashed her with swords and buried half- dead. An attendant, non-Christian, heard her groaning and carried her to his cabin. There Boxer seized her again, and this time they tortured her to death. In either instance Ia Wang fervently confessed Christ in the face of her tormentors.

"Among those who died for Christ were Albazinians whose ancestors first carried the light of holy Orthodoxy to Beijing in 1685. Their faith has now been crowned with the glory of martyrdom conferred upon their descendants. Albazinians Clement Kui Lin, Matthew Chai Tsuang, his brother Witt, Anna Chui, any many more, fearless of those who kill the body but cannot harm the soul (Matt. 10:28) met agony and death with courage, praying the Savior for their tormentors.

"Of all Chinese Orthodox martyrs, the most famous are priest Mitrophan Tsi-Chung and his family. He was born in 1855, and at the age of 25 was baptized by Bishop [St.] Nicholas of Japan. Mitrophan was a low-profile kind of a man, shy and reticent, peaceful and humble; even in case of a grave insult he would never seek to justify himself. He was unwilling to become a priest, saying: A man of poor talent and little virtue, how dare I accept this great rank? Encouraged by Archimandrite Flavian and the teacher, he finally consented, yet knowing that priesthood will never bring him happiness. He served under Archimandrite Flavian, helping with translation and proofreading of liturgical books [along with the churches, Boxers burned down the print shop and destroyed all plates and types]. For fifteen years he served God tirelessly, suffering much pain and contempt from everyone near and far, and finally was struck with a mental illness. After that he settled outside of the Mission, receiving half of his former salary as a pension. Throughout his life Fr. Mitrophan was always generous, and many took advantage of him.

"On June 1, 1900 (the 17th day of the 5th month, according to the Chinese calendar), in the evening Boxers set the Mission ablaze. A number of Christians, seeking shelter, gathered in the house of Fr. Mitrophan. Among them were those who had done him much harm in the past, but he didn't mind. Seeing that some were falling in despair, he tried to encourage them, saying that the time of tribulations has come, and it is hard to avoid them. Several times a day he would go out to look at the cinders at the church site. On June 10, at about 10 PM, soldiers and Boxers surrounded his house. There was about 70 people inside; some stronger ones ran away, and those who remained, Fr. Mitrophan and many others, mostly women and children, were all martyred. He was sitting in the front yard; Boxers stabbed his chest like a beehive, and he fell under the date tree.

"Neighbors dragged his body to the site of the Mission's hospice. Fr. heiromonk Abraham found it later, and in 1903, when the Feast of the New Martyrs was first celebrated, it was placed with other bodies in the church of the Martyrs under the Altar. Today (1920es) there is a Cross standing where he was killed; on the Martyr's Feast a procession goes there for the memorial service.

"Fr. Mitrophan had a wife Tatiana, born Li, and three sons: Isaiah, the oldest, Serge, who is now an Archpriest, and John. On the 10th of June in the evening Tatiana escaped the Boxers with the help of her son's bride, but on the next morning she was beheaded among others on the place where now is the hospice for the poor. Isaiah was 23, and he served in the military. He was beheaded on June 7, on the main street near the Ping-tse-Min gates, since it had been known that he was a Christian. His bride Mary, 19, two days before the massacre came to Fr. Mitrophan, willing to die in the house of her bridegroom. Three times tried Isaiah's brother Serge to convince her to leave and hide, but she refused, saying: I was born near the church of the Mother of God, and I will die right here. When the soldiers and Boxers overtook the place, she found her rest in the horrible death.

"John was 8. On June 10, when his father was killed, Boxers slashed his shoulders and chopped off his nose, ears and toes. Isaiah's bride helped him escape death by hiding in the outhouse. When people asked him if it hurt, he answered that it does not hurt to suffer for Christ. Children were mocking him... John asked the neighbors to drink, but they didn't give him and drove him off. Protasios Chang and Irodion Tsui, who had not yet been baptized at that time, testify that they saw John with wounds shoulders and legs: wounds were deeper than an inch, but he didn't seem to feel pain and, taken again by the Boxers, showed no fear and walked steadily. An old man protested, saying: What is the boy's fault? Blame the parents for his becoming a devil's disciple. Others jeered at him, scoffed him, or simply grinned with derision. Thus he was led away, as a lamb to the sacrifice."[27]

[26] Pervye Christianskie Mucheniki iz Pravoslavnykh Kitaitsev. Za Tserkov, 19, 1936, p. 1-3
[27] Ibid.