Above: Map of the Germane Region of Thailand
Image in the Public Domain
BLESSED FILIP SIPHONG ONPHITHAKT (SEPTEMBER 7, 1907-DECEMBER 16, 1940)
Roman Catholic Catechist and Martyr in Thailand
Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel,
Dr. Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) stated. He was correct. More specifically, an appeal to national security has frequently become a justification for engaging in immoral actions. In the case of the saints listed in this post, the context was the (Vichy) Franco-Thai War (1940-1941), during which Thai police forces in the vicinity of French Indochina persecuted Roman Catholics, suspected of being spies for the Vichy French.
Blessed Filip Siphong Onphithakt, born at Nong Seng, Nakhon Phanon, Thailand, on September 7, 1907, became a martyr. In 1931 he married Marie Thong; the couple had five children. Our saint, a catechist since 1926, assumed the leadership of his parish in Songkhon village in 1940, when persecution of Christians by police forced the priest to depart. Onphithakt protested this persecution. In December 1940 police summoned him to their headquarters at Mukhadon. Our saint answered that summons. He was en route when police ambushed, tortured, and murdered him at Muang Phaluka Phanom.
Ten days later police shot, killed, and martyred six nuns. They were:
- Blessed Akatha Phutta Bi (born in 1882),
- Blessed Agnes Phila (born in 1909),
- Blessed Bibiana Khamphai (born on November 4, 1925),
- Blessed Cecilia Butsi (born on December 16, 1924),
- Blessed Lucie Khambang (born on December 22, 1917), and
- Blessed Maria Phon (born on January 6, 1929).
These martyrs had disobeyed police orders to cease speaking of Jesus.
Pope John Paul II declared the Seven Martyrs of Thailand venerable on September 1, 1988. He beatified them on October 22, 1989.
KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR
OCTOBER 28, 2016 COMMON ERA
THE FEAST OF SAINTS SIMON AND JUDE, APOSTLES AND MARTYRS
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 the Seven Martyrs of Thailand,
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 lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
–Adapted from Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 59