Kitbamrung, Nicholas Bunkerd, Bl.
KITBAMRUNG, NICHOLAS BUNKERD, BL.
Baptized Benedictus, priest, martyr; b. c. Jan. 31, to Feb. 28, 1895, on a sampan in the Nakhon Chaisri district (mission of Bangkok), Thailand; d. Jan. 12, 1944, near Ban Han, Thailand. One of six children of converts to the faith, Joseph Poxang and Agnes Thiang Kitbamrung, Nicholas entered the minor seminary of Hang Xan at thirteen. He completed his studies at Penang (Malaysia) Seminary and was ordained in Assumption Cathedral, Bangkok, by Bishop René Perros (Jan. 24, 1926).
He began his pastoral work as assistant at Bang Nok Kheuk, Samut Songkhram province, where he also taught catechesis to Salesian seminarians and Thai to the priests establishing a mission in Thailand. He was transferred to Phitsanulok (1928), where he taught the language to his newly arrived pastor and learned a Chinese dialect (Hakka) himself. In 1930, he was sent as a missionary to North Vietnam and Chiang Mai (northern Thailand) to strengthen the faith of those who had left the Church due to privation. At the end of that mission, he was assigned to the Khorat District to engage in catechesis and reevangelization of lapsed Catholics. He began evangelizing virtually unexplored lands along the border of Laos in 1937.
He was arrested as a French spy (1941) during the war between France and Indochina and sentenced to ten years' imprisonment. While incarcerated, Nicholas contracted tuberculosis, which was aggravated by maltreatment. Nevertheless, he continued to minister to his fellow inmates and baptized many of them before his death. When his illness became severe he was left in a hospital to die because he was a Catholic.
The decree of martyrdom in his cause was promulgated, Jan. 27, 2000. He was beatified by John Paul II on March 5, 2000. Patron of Thailand.
Bibliography: L'Osservatore Romano, Eng. ed. (March 8,2000) 1, 2–3.
[k. i. rabenstein]