flowers that breathe out the untold fragrance,
new stars of the intelligent firmament
who illumine the hearts of the faithful.
The great boast of China Asia's Ornament
decoration and brightness
and the first sacrifice to the Lord,
entreat Him to grant to our souls,
A day of celebration for the faithful. A day for
honouring the icon of the Theotokos (Axion Esti), who from
the holy synthronon of the Protaton of the Holy Mountain,
sends her grace to the wide world and sweetens the souls of
the Orthodox. She comforts those in pain, gives support to
those who suffer and makes the pious joyful.
1900. A day of ruthless persecution of the
few-in-number Christians of vast China. A day of wrath, fire
and tremors. The revolutionary Boxers turned their anger
especially against the 70 all in all Orthodox and struck
with fury the "small flock of Christ".
Perhaps they had many complaints against the foreigners
and their 'mission', which were not always exempt from
worldly ambition and expediencies. However, the small
Orthodox Church of China, a sacred offspring of the Russian
Missionary flame of older times, had very easily in its
existence shown and proved that its concern and duty was
exclusively to evangelise and spread the Kingdom of God
during a period of about 250 years. Its concern and duty was
not the 'religious' support of the political and other vain
and sinful expediencies. Therefore, if others afforded a
pretext for suspicions and complaints, the Orthodox preached
Christ Crucified and nothing else.
In the millions of Buddhists, Confucians and Taoists, the
Orthodox presence was 'a drop in the ocean'. However, this
drop was unbearably annoying the Boxers and they did not
tolerate it to act as a medicine, to the eyes of their
souls, to clear their spiritual vision so that they could
see the light of the true knowledge of God. So, they were
determined to die for it; by the fire of persecution; by the
frightful wind of violence; by every possible manner.
Almost all the Churches were set on fire. The Missionary
Centre of Peking (today's Beijing), its invaluable library,
its printing press, everything was in flames. Whatever the
humble missionary endeavour managed to create was turned
into ruins and ashes.
One of their first victims was the reverend priest
Metrophanes Tsi. "I will strike the shepherd and the sheep
of the flock will be scattered" (Matthew 26:31). His
eight-year-old son, John, who was inexperienced in evil,
suffered together with the priest. They mutilated him
-Do you deny your faith in Christ?
-Do you worship Budda?
They cut him in pieces. While he was dying some felt
sorry for him and tried to show him some humaneness. When
they asked him if he suffered a lot, the holy child martyr
whispered with an angelic smile.
-It is not hard to suffer for Christ!
Then he closed his innocent eyes to the barbarism of the
earth to open them in the Kingdom of Heaven. In Heaven with
all the other children who died for Christ, such as Kyrikos,
Tarsizios, Claudius, Hypatios, Dionysios and Paul were in a
brotherly manner waiting for him to join them in their game,
together the Cherubim and Seraphim.
The time came for Catechist Paul Van to seal, with his
confession and martyrdom for Christ, all that he was
teaching to the young of the Church for many years. Without
the slightest groan and with prayer on his lips, he endured
unheard of tortures and he surrendered his blessed soul to
the hands of his Creator. Iyia Ven, a teacher at the
Missionary School was repeatedly tortured inhumanely. She
was bashed and mutilated and she, in the end, died while
confessing, with high spirit and courage, the name of
Christ. Many others suffered martyrdom with them; young and
old, ordinary and important persons, educated and
illiterate, people from rural and urban areas, professional
and labourers. God knows their names and He has entered them
in the book of life. About 400 persons, who loved Christ,
distinguished themselves as martyrs and confessors and
irrigated with their pure blood the ground of China and
sanctified it with their supreme sacrifice. The previously
'barren and sterile' Chinese land grew its 'first fragrant
flowers', which with their yellow colour enriched the beauty
of the Garden of the heavenly Eden and with their freshness
they refreshed Christianity which fainted from the burns of
rationalism and indifference at the beginning of our
century. The historic people of China offered their first
sacrifice to God Sabbaoth
11th June 1990.
Wordly is the sacrifice of the Chinese New-martyrs.
Worthy is the bloodstained epitrachilion of presbyter
Metrophanes. Worthy is the blameless slaughter of the little
boy John. Worthy is the blood of Iyia, of Paul and of all
the known and unknown, but known to God by name, confessors
and martyrs, the first sacrifices of China
11th June 1995.
Bent over the pages of the "Ecclesiastic Truth", the
official periodical of the Church of Constantinople of the
year of the Lord 1901, I became acquainted for the first
time with the Holy New-martyrs of China. Their holy icon in
Chino-Byzantine style already sanctifies my humble office.
Through their intercessions, Christ our Lord praise the
fallen tabernacle of your Church in China and save the souls
of us Your servants who are lovers of the Martyrs