Andrew the Catechist, Bl.
ANDREW THE CATECHIST, BL.
Also known as André de Phú Yên, lay catechist and protomartyr of Vietnam; b. Ran Ran, Annam (Vietnam), 1625; d. Ke Cham, Annam, July 27, 1644. A fervent Vietnamese Christian woman named Joanne convinced the Jesuit missionary Alexandre de Rhodes to accept her sickly, youngest son, Andrew, as his student, and Rhodes later baptized him when he was 15 or 16. About 1641 Andrew joined the Maison Dieu (God's House) association of catechists and, in 1643, vowed with other catechists to serve the Church throughout his life. Despite a prohibition against Christianity, Andrew continued to spread the Gospel and as a result was beaten, tortured, and placed under house arrest in July 1644. Mandarin Ong Nghè Bo offered Andrew an opportunity to recant the faith, but he refused. Condemned to death, Andrew was publicly hanged and then decapitated. Fr. de Rhodes, who witnessed Andrew's martyrdom and retrieved the body, recorded the circumstances of his death; Andrew's remains were taken to Macau for burial. Although many other Vietnamese martyrs, including 125 from the nineteenth century, were previously beatified, Andrew has been remembered by Vietnamese Catholics as the country's first martyr. He was beatified in St. Peter's Square on March 5, 2000 by Pope John Paul II.
Feast: July 27.
Bibliography: L'Osservatore Romano, English edition, 10 (8 March 2000). pham dinh khiem, The First Witness (Saigon 1959).
[k. i. rabenstein]