Feast of St. Theophane Venard (November 24)   Leave a comment

Above:  A 1913 Map of French Indochina

Image in the Public Domain



Roman Catholic Priest, Missionary, and Martyr in Vietnam, 1861

Alternative feast day = February 2

Former feast days = November 4 and 6

Born at St. Loup, France, in 1829, St. Jean-Theophane Venard became a Roman Catholic priest on June 5, 1852.  Just a few months later, on September 19, he left France forever and sailed for Asia.  After spending fifteen months at Hong Kong, he arrived at his mission station in Tonkin (Tongking on the public domain map above).  Christians in the region had been suffering from persecution, a fact which only became worse shortly after Venard’s arrival.  A royal decree increased the severity of the persecution, so Venard and his flock had to hide in caves and the dense forest.  Exposure to the elements took a toll on his weak constitution, but he persisted in his ministry.

Then, on November 30, 1860, authorities captured Venard, due to an act of betrayal.  He lived in a cage until February 2, 1861, keeping a positive attitude until the end.  He wrote encouraging letters to friends and family members during that time.  And, on the the way to his martyrdom by beheading, Venard chanted psalms and hymns.

Venard and 33 other martyrs of Vietnam and China became Blesseds on May 2, 1909.  Then, on June 19, 1988, Pope John Paul II canonized Venard and 19 other Martyrs of Vietnam.

Sometimes the call of God is, as Dietrich Bonhoeffer put it in the 1900s, to follow Christ and die.  This was the case for St. Theophane Venard.  He gave his life to Christ, for whom he died.  The best way to die well, I read once, is to live well, for our pattern of living will inform our dying.  Venard’s life affirms that thought, for he lived in the joy of God and also died there.





For Further Reading:

Another Account of the Saint’s Life:



The Collect and Lections for a Martyr:

Gracious God,

in every age you have sent

men and women who have given their lives in witness to your love and truth.

Inspire us with the memory of St. Theophane Venard,

whose faithfulness led to the way of the cross,

and give us courage to bear full witness with our lives

to your Son’s victory over sin and death,

for he reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God,

now and forever.  Amen.

Ezekiel 20:40-42

Psalm 5

Revelation 6:9-11

Mark 8:34-38

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), the hymnal and worship book of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA)

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