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.”