Feast of the Martyrs of Lien-Chou, China, October 28, 1905 (October 29)   Leave a comment

Above:  The Late Imperial Flag of China

Image in the Public Domain

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ELEANOR CHESTNUT, M.D. (JANUARY 8, 1868-OCTOBER 28, 1905)

U.S. Presbyterian Medical Missionary and Martyr, 1905

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JOHN ROGERS PEALE (SEPTEMBER 17, 1879-OCTOBER 28, 1905)

U.S. Presbyterian Minister, Missionary, and Martyr, 1905

husband of

REBECCA GILLESPIE PEALE (AUGUST 16, 1878-OCTOBER 28, 1905)

U.S. Presbyterian Missionary and Martyr, 1905

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ELLA MAY WOOD MACHLE (DIED OCTOBER 28, 1905)

U.S. Presbyterian Missionary and Martyr, 1905

mother of

AMY MACHLE (1894-OCTOBER 28, 1905)

U.S. Presbyterian Martyr

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In loving memory of the missionary martyrs of Lien-chou, China, Eleanor Chestnut, M.D.; Mrs. Ella Wood Machle; and her little daughter, Amy; Rev John Rogers Peale and Mrs. Rebecca Gillespie Peale; who for Christ’s sake suffered cruel death at Lien-chou, China, October 28, 1905.  “They loved not their lives unto the death.”  (Rev. xii 11)

–A plaque at the Presbyterian Foreign Mission Board, New York, New York; quoted in G. Scott Cady and Christopher L. Webber, A Year with American Saints (2006), 34

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INTRODUCTION

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Dr. Eleanor Chestnut comes to this, A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  An Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, via Cady and Webber, A Year with American Saints (2006).  The other four saints martyred with her come her via my desire to include all five martyrs in this post.

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DOCTOR CHESTNUT

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Above:  Dr. Eleanor Chestnut

Image in the Public Domain

Chestnut grew up without her parents.  She, born in Waterloo, Iowa, on January 8, 1868, was essentially an orphan.  Our saint’s father deserted the family.  Chestnut’s mother died shortly after our saint’s birth.  The Merwins, childless neighbors, raised Chestnut a few years.  Then our saint grew up with relatives on a struggling farm at Hatton, Missouri.  Chestnut sought a way out of her precarious existence and into a better future.

Education was that route.  Chestnut graduated from Park College (now University), a Presbyterian school in Parksville, Missouri, in 1888.  Next, she studied at the Chicago Women’s Medical College, the Illinois Training School for Nurses, and the Moody Bible Institute.  Our saint prepared to become a medical doctor and missionary.  She, who preferred to treat the most vulnerable and most impoverished patients, applied to the Presbyterian Foreign Missions Board in 1893.  Chestnut sailed for China in August 1894.  She had worked in a women’s reformatory in Framingham, Massachusetts.  Our saint had experience as a physician, but none as a missionary (yet).

The missionary compound at Lien-chou dated to 1891.  Chestnut worked there, starting in 1894.  She operated a women’s hospital in Lien-chou.  She also rode to local villages and provided medical care.  Our saint also trained local women as nurses, advocated for public health measures and the construction of schools.   Furthermore, she translated a nursing textbook and the Gospel of Matthew into the local dialect.

Chestnut was a dedicated and compassionate medical missionary.  Yet, while on furlough in the United States of America in 1902-1903, our saint confided to a friend:

I do not feel that I am spiritual enough to be a missionary.

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THE MACHLES

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Other Presbyterian missionaries labored for God and Lien-chou.  For example, the Machles were there.  Dr. Edward Machle operated another hospital.  His wife, Ella (May) Wood Machle, and children (some of them, depending on the year), were present, too.

Edward Machle and Ella May Wood had met at Wharton Street Presbyterian Church, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in the 1880s.  He had been a student at the Medical College of Philadelphia, and she a teacher.  After the couple married, they applied to the Presbyterian Board of Foreign Missions.  They arrived in China in 1889.

The Machles had four children:

  1. Elsie (born May 3, 1890),
  2. Victor (born in 1892), and
  3. Amy and Howard (born in 1894).

The Machles, in the United States of America on furlough in 1897, left Elsie and Victor at the Presbyterian Homes for Children of Foreign Missionaries, Wooster, Ohio,  That decision saved the children’s lives.  The parents and their children corresponded with each other frequently and on a regular basis.

Amy and Howard were fraternal twins.  Howard died of diptheria in 1904.

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THE PEALES

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John Rogers Peale and Rebecca Gillespie Peale hoped to serve as missionaries in China for forty years.  They did not get to serve even forty hours before they received the crown of martyrdom.

John Rogers Peale grew up a Presbyterian.  He, a son of Samuel Alexander Peale and Elizabeth (McIntire) Peale, debuted in New Bloomfield, Pennsylvania, on September 17, 1879.  John joined the New Bloomfield Presbyterian when he was 12 years old.  After graduating from Lafayette College, Easton, Pennsylvania, in 1902.  John matriculated at Princeton Theological Seminary.  His interest in foreign missions was obvious at seminary.  He graduated from Princeton University (M.A., 1904) and Theological Seminary (1905).  John, licensed to preach in the old Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. on April 11, 1905, and ordained on May 15, married Rebecca Gillespie on June 29.

Rebecca Gillespie, born on August 16, 1878, was a native of Colora, Maryland.  She joined the West Nottingham Presbyterian Church at the age of 14 years, and attended and graduated from West Nottingham Academy.

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OCTOBER 28, 1905

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The Rogerses, who had sailed from San Francisco, California, on August 16, 1905, arrived in Hong Kong around September 28.  The long, arduous journey to the missionary station awaited the couple.  Dr. Edward Machle picked them up and delivered them to Lien-chou.  On October 26 or 27, the young couple, in the twenties, arrived at their new home, the site of hospitals, a boys’ school, a girls’ school, a church building, that sat 700 people, and residences for missionaries.

Dr. Machle came home to a Chinese festival celebration, underway near one of the hospitals.  The noise was disturbing patients.  The pagan nature of the festival upset Dr. Machle.  He spoke to local elders and, in accordance with local custom, removed a ceremonial object (a miniature cannon).  Many local people took great offense and committed violence.  A mob attacked the compound.  Only two missionaries, including Dr. Machle, survived; they got so deep inside a cave that nobody pulled them out.  However, those who did not get sufficiently deep into that cave died.  The mob damaged some buildings and burned others.  They also beat and stabbed five missionaries (including young Amy Machle) and threw the bodies into the river.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 15, 2021 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT OLGA OF KIEV, REGENT OF KIEVAN RUSSIA; SAINT ADALBERT OF MAGDEBURG, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP; SAINT ADALBERT OF PRAGUE, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP AND MARTYR, 997; AND SAINTS BENEDICT AND GAUDENTIUS OF POMERANIA, ROMAN CATHOLIC MARTYRS, 997

THE FEAST OF SAINTS DAMIEN AND MARIANNE OF MOLOKAI, WORKERS AMONG LEPERS

THE FEAST OF SAINT FLAVIA DOMITILLA, ROMAN CHRISTIAN NOBLEWOMAN; AND SAINTS MARO, EUTYCHES, AND VICTORINUS OF ROME, PRIESTS AND MARTYRS, CIRCA 99

THE FEAST OF SAINT HUNNA OF ALSACE, THE “HOLY WASHERWOMAN”

THE FEAST OF LUCY CRAFT LANEY, AFRICAN-AMERICAN PRESBYTERIAN EDUCATOR AND CIVIL RIGHTS ACTIVIST

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Almighty and everlasting God,

who kindled the flame of your love in the heart of your holy martyrs

Eleanor Chestnut,

John Rogers Peale,

Rebecca Gillespie Peale,

Ella May Wood Machle,

and Amy Machle:

Grant to us, your humble servants, a like faith and power of love,

that we who rejoice in their triumph may profit by their example;

through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with

you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

Jeremiah 15:15-21

Psalm 124 or 31:1-5

1 Peter 4:12-19

Mark 8:34-38

–Adapted from Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), 715

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