Balat, Théodoric, St.

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Franciscan priest, martyr, b. Oct. 28, 1858, St. Martin de Tours, Diocese of Albi, France; d. July 9, 1900, Taiyüan, Shansi Province, China. Théodoric, the son of Jean François Balat and Rose Taillefer, entered the minor seminary at Lavour at age 11 and became a member of the Third Order of St. Francis. While studying at the major seminary at Albi, Théodoric was inspired by a visiting Franciscan to take that Order's habit. He entered the novitiate at Pau (June 29, 1880), and made his first profession at Woodlands, England (June 30, 1881), where he remained several years. On July 2, 1884, he was solemnly professed. He made a pilgrimage to La Verna, Assisi, and the Holy Land prior to joining the Chinese mission (October 1884). During the course of his successful apostolate in Taiyüan (from December 1, 1885), he served Bp. Gregorio grassi as teacher in the minor seminary, novice master, mission promoter, and chaplain to the Franciscan Missionaries of Mary. At the outbreak of persecution, he refused to leave. He was arrested with the sisters to whom he gave his final blessing before being execution. He was beatified by Pope Pius XII (Nov. 24, 1946) and canonized (Oct.1, 2000) by Pope John Paul II with Augustine Zhao Rong and companions.

Feast: July 4; July 8 (Franciscans).

Bibliography: Acta Apostolicae Sedis 39 (1947) 213221, 307311. Les Vingt-neuf martyrs de Chine, massacrés en 1900, béatifiés par Sa Sainteté Pie XII, le 24 novembre, 1946 (Rome 1946). p. x. mertens, Du sang chrétien sur le fleuve jaune. Actes de martyrs dans la Chine contemporaine (Paris 1937). l. miner, China's Book of Martyrs: A Record of Heroic Martyrdoms and Marvelous Deliverances of Chinese Christians during the Summer of 1900 (Ann Arbor 1994). j. simon, Sous le sabre des Boxers (Lille 1955). c. testore, Sangue e palme sul fiume giallo. I beati martiri cinesi nella persecuzione della Boxe Celi Sud-Est, 1900 (Rome 1955). L'Osservatore Romano, Eng. Ed. 40 (2000): 12, 10.

[k. i. rabenstein]