Saint Marina was born in Omura, near Nagasaki Japan. Omura had once held many Christians, in fact, Omura Sumitada, it’s early overlord, had been the first baptized Japanese Christian, many generations ago.
By the time of Marina’s birth,Christianity had been outlawed under penalty of death throughout Japan. As a young girl, Marina was very devout, and consecrated her virginity to Christ. She joined the Dominican order in 1625.
Ar great risk to her own safety, the saint opened her home to give sanctuary to persecuted Christians and the priests who were constantly hunted. Her home was known as a refuge, and Christians constantly came to her seeking encouragement and strength to remain faithful in the face of the constant risks and increasing threats.
When Marina was caught and arrested, the magistrates decided to make an example of her. The virginal saint was paraded nude through Omura, with her hands tied behind her back and allowed to wear nothing but her long black hair.
Both European merchants and sailors who witnessed her march of shame proclaimed her the ‘bravest and strongest woman of Japan’, due to her calm and humble demeanor throughout the ordeal.
Saint Marina was then sentenced to death by slow fire, to be burned alive on wood especially wetted to prolong the burning time and agony of the victim.
To the magistrates dismay, the saint did not cry out in agony, and her voice was heard through the flames as she prayed for her fellow Christians and for the souls of those who had sentenced her.
Saint Melangell, AKA Saint Monacella, was an Irish princess who had consecrated herself to Christ as a perpetual virgin. When her father disregarded her vows and arranged a betrothal for her, she fled to Wales.
She found refuge deep in the woods, and is said to have remained living there in seclusion for years, renouncing her royal heritage for a life of prayer and solitude. She is said not to have ‘beheld the face of a man’ for 15 years, and a 1/4 mile from her shrine is a cleft in pure rock still known as Melangell’s hard bed: Gwely Mellangell.
One day, the Prince of Powys was out hunting hare. In the middle of the hunt, the dogs suddenly gave up the scent, and fled to the huntsman. When encouraged to take up the trail, the dogs only stood and howled.
The Prince dismounted and entered a thicket, only to find a beautiful maiden holding his prey, ( some versions say that the Saint was sheltering the hare in her skirts )
When he heard Saint Melangell’s story, the Prince, Brochwell, gave her the land, saying ‘ Let this place become a perpetual asylum and a refuge, in recognition of God’s protection of this little wild hare by his servant Melangell.’
Saint Melangell had a small church built and spent the next 37 years as the abbess of the small community she founded there. Legend has it that the land was blessed with many wild hares which showed so little fear of men that they were called ‘Melangell’s little lambs’.
The church has recently been restored and contains a wooden carving depicting the saints legend. She is still popular in Wales and the shrine still receives many pilgrims.
In ‘Journey to Pennant Melangell – Welcome for Pilgrims’, a modern writer speaks of the growing devotion to Saint Melangell and it’s relevance to modern life:
“It is a story which speaks to us about the clash between a violent and aggressive world and a way of life which puts all its trust in God. It is a way of life which is prayerful and quiet, full of compassionate care for all living things. It makes vivid something of early Celtic Christianity which greatly fascinates people today living in a world which is very different and yet strangely similar.”
Her feast day, May27, is still celebrated in Wales.
Saint Agnes of China
Saint Agnes was born in China and as a young woman, she was married off to a farmer. When her husband died suddenly after only two years, his parents threw her out of the house.
Saint Agnes was forced to find work as a maid. She moved in with a devout Catholic, who taught her the faith and Saint Agnes consecrated herself to Christ.
Saint Agnes was later sent out to local villages to teach cooking and housekeeping. She never complained about the hard work, and not only taught the catechism, but was a shining example in how she lived the faith.
In 1856, as anti Catholic sentiment rose, she was arrested and given the choice of renouncing her beliefs or death. She would not renounce Jesus.
At her trial she was again given the choice to deny her faith or be killed. Saint Agnes said
‘Even should I die, I will not deny my lord’.
For the crime of being Christian, Saint Agnes was sentenced to be placed in a cage with no food or water until death. She was heard praying constantly from her cage, and she died on the fourth day. She was 35 years old.
Our Lady of China, Pray for Us.
Saint Anna Wang was born in Majiazhuang China. She lost her mother at the age of four, and was known as an exceptionally pious child who loved to read.
She was a reverent Christian, always studying the Catechism.
At the age of 10, she went against custom, vowing to stay always pure and consecrating her virginity to Christ. At age 11, her family promised her in marriage.
In one of the first real signs of her devotion to Jesus, she held fast to her vows and refused the traditional marriage to the consternation of all around her.
The Boxer Rebellion began in earnest, and Christianity was banned in China under penalty of death. In July 1900, the Boxers came to Saint Anna’s village. They captured all of the Christians and gave them an ultimatum: renounce your faith, or you will be killed. Saint Anna’s stepmother was terrified and she immediately gave in, earnestly entreating Anna to save herself and do the same.
Anna refused and was imprisoned with the other faithful. She led them in prayer throughout the night, and the next morning they were led to the execution ground.
At the execution grounds, five mothers and their children were killed, including a baby who was cut in half and thrown onto his mother’s dead body. Amidst this horrifying carnage, Saint Anna knelt and led the remaining Christians in prayer.
A Boxer with an ax became angry, he ran to Saint Anna and said “Renounce your faith and you shall live!”
Saint Anna said ‘I am Catholic.I will never deny God. It is better for me to die’.
The Boxer cut off a piece of her shoulder, again admonishing her to simply renounce her faith and live. Again Saint Anna refused. He raised his ax and cut off her entire left arm.
Saint Anna held out her right arm and said ” The door to Heaven is open for all.”
She whispered ” Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, ” and extended her neck. The Boxer struck off her head.
She was 14 years old.
The persecution of Christians during the Boxer Rebellion must be understood in terms of the complex political problems of the time.
“The Chinese view the 1800s as the most degrading and humiliating time in their long history. The Japanese, British, Dutch, Spanish, French, Portuguese, Russians and other countries had seized Chinese land by military power, and were raping China of its wealth and natural resources.
“It was in this atmosphere that a secret Chinese society, known as The Boxers, was born…. Working behind the scenes, the Boxers grew rapidly in influence until they had members in every part of the country.
“In the last few years of the 1890s foreign missionary activity became more and more difficult, and Chinese Christians were persecuted and accused of being ‘running dogs’ for the Western Imperialists. ”
James &Hefley, By Their Blood.
Our Lady of China, Pray for us!
Pope Saint John Paul 11 had this to say :
“I feel deep sadness for these errors and limits of the past, and I regret that in many people these failings may have given the impression of a lack of respect and esteem for the Chinese people on the part of the Catholic Church, making them feel that the church was motivated by feelings of hostility toward China. For all of this I ask the forgiveness and understanding of those who may have felt hurt in some way by such actions on the part of Christians.”
Almost 10 thousand soldiers were ready to attack the small village of about 1 thousand Christians.
When the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared in the sky, the soldiers stopped and began shooting up at her instead of at the people.The soldiers suddenly dispersed and it is told that the fiery figure of Saint Michael on horseback had chased them off.
This apparition of the Virgin was approved by Pope Pius X1 in 1932.