Bulacan parish dedicated to Korean saint now a diocesan shrine

Bulacan parish dedicated to Korean saint now a diocesan shrine

The Diocesan Shrine of St. Andrew Kim Taegon in Bocaue, Bulacan. PHOTO FROM THE PARISH

By Kendrick Ivan B. Panganiban

February 2, 2021

Bocaue, Bulacan

The country’s only Catholic parish in Bulacan province dedicated to a Korean saint was elevated to diocesan shrine status.

In a Mass held Jan. 30, the Parish of Nuestro Señor Jesucristo was formally declared as the Diocesan Shrine of St. Andrew Kim Taegon by Bishop Dennis Villarojo of Malolos.

Located in Lolomboy, a village in Bocaue town, the shrine was built in honor of the first Korean-born Catholic priest who once lived in the area before he was martyred in the 19th century.

The celebration began with a fluvial procession of the saint’s pilgrim image at Bocaue River to re-enact the arrival of the martyr in Lolomboy.

In his homily, Villarojo exhorted the faithful to “learn” from the martyr “who understood very well what it means to live a life inspired by God”.

The bishop also led the blessing of a pilgrims’ museum in old shrine based on Korean architecture and featuring a 15-tier pagoda which is handled by the parish and the Sisters of St. Andrew, a congregation of Korean nuns who also settled in Lolomboy to aid in the promotion of the devotion to the saint.

The event was held as the parish joined the Korean Catholic Church’s year-long celebration of the 200th anniversary of the birth of Kim Taegon, which culminates on August 21, his natal day.

Bishop Dennis Villarojo delivers his homily during Mass to elevate the Parish of Nuestro Señor Jesucristo as the Diocesan Shrine of St. Andrew Kim Taegon in Bocacue, Bulacan on Jan. 30. PHOTO FROM THE PARISH

After being baptized at age 15, Kim Taegon studied at a seminary in the Portuguese colony of Macau as a scholar of the Parish Foreign Mission Society.

Between 1837 and 1841, a civil unrest in China erupted that forced him to seek refuge and continue his studies in a Dominican convent in Lolomboy.

In 1844, he left the Philippines and went to China where he was ordained priest the following year.

Back to his hometown in Seoul to begin catechising Koreans in secret, he was arrested and was beheaded in September 1846 during the wave of persecution launched by the Joseon dynasty.

Kim Taegon was among the 103 Korean martyrs, including 15 women, canonized by St. John Paul II in Seoul on May 6, 1984. Their feast is celebrated on September 20.

Because of the historical importance of the saint’s arrival in Lolomboy, he was declared a secondary patron saint of the parish after his canonization.

On May 2, 1986, the parish was declared as a spiritual twin of “Saenamteo,” also known as the 103 Korean Martyrs Shrine and Parish.

First in Asia, Vatican declares Seoul as int’l pilgrimage site

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The Vatican has formally recognized the “Seoul Pilgrimage Routes” as an international pilgrimage destination during a solemn ceremony held at the historical Seosomun Shrine in Seoul City Sept. 14. PHOTOS BY ROY LAGARDE

By Roy Lagarde

October 2, 2018

Seoul, South Korea

The Vatican has authorized official pilgrimage visits to Seoul, a city laden with memorials dedicated to thousands of South Korea’s martyrs.

The decision has placed Seoul on the list of official Catholic pilgrimage sites issued yearly by the Holy See, the first one in Asia.

It is expected to increase religious tourism to Seoul, as Christian pilgrims from around the world choose from the list of pilgrimage destinations.

The formal recognition was held on Sept. 14 with a Mass presided by Cardinal Andrew Yeom Soo-jung of the Seoul archdiocese at the historical Seosomun Shrine.

The site is an important place in the history of the Church in Korea because it is where hundreds of people, including 44 who were declared saints, were martyred.

Also in attendance were Archbishop Rino Fisichella of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization, Papal nuncio to South Korea Archbishop Alfred Xuereb, and several Asian church leaders including Archbishop Romulo Valles of the Philippines.

In his message, Fisichella said that the Christian community has many pastoral means available “in order to favor the acceptance of the gift of faith which is our response” to God’s calling.

“Of these the Church in Korea holds in high esteem the pilgrimage routes associated with Korean martyrs as a tangible means to discover or to come to know better the Gospel of Jesus Christ,” he said.

Touted as the “Camino de Santiago of Asia”, the Seoul pilgrimage routes cover a 44.1 km-long road that starts from Myeongdong Cathedral to the Samseongsan Holy Ground.

Archbishop Fisichella said the Vatican is convinced that Seoul’s pilgrimage routes “is an effective way for the Church in Korea to honor the memory of her martyrs”.

“These routes can help not only pilgrims coming from Asia and all over the world, and whoever else choses to walk them, to reflect on the fact of human life laid down out of love and to open their hearts to the transforming power of God’s grace which bestows the gift of faith,” he said.

Valles, who took part in a “Pilgrimage Week” celebration that started on Sept. 10, said he was inspired by the deep faith of the Korean people.

“I hope that we get connected as Asian people especially the Philippines. I’m sure that they can learn from us and we can be inspired by the faith of the Korean people as well, especially manifested by the lives of these martyrs,” he said.

Committed to promote the religious tourism, the Seoul Metropolitan Government has unveiled tour programs approximating the pilgrimage sites with neighboring tourist attractions.

Ju Yong-tae, head of Seoul’s tourism and sports bureau, said that world pilgrimage destinations, such as Spain’s Camino de Santiago, are attracting tourists to contribute to the revitalization of local tourism industry.

“As we are expecting a lot of tourists in Seoul following the Vatican’s official authorization, we would like to develop the pilgrimage routes in Seoul into a global tourist attraction,” the official said.

“Seoul Pilgrimage Routes have a lot of unique storytelling elements based on a history of persecution and martyrdom and a voluntary process in propagation without the presence of missionaries, and therefore has a very high potential as tourism resource,” he added.

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