Dominican Saints 101: St. Francis de Capillas and Companions
January 15, 2012
The Protomartyr of China, St. Francis de Capillas (1607-1648, feast – Jan. 15) shed his blood in China, consecrating the ground and preparing it for the other 133 Chinese martyrs who would offer their lives for the spread of the Gospel within the following century. The Dominican Martyrs of China died between 1648 and 1748. They bore heroic witness to the Truth of the Gospel. Through enduring the tortures and cruelties they suffered, they showed that there was something deeper and more important to seek than worldly comfort. During his stay in prison, St. Francis de Capillas wrote,
I am here with other prisoners and we have developed a fellowship. They ask me about the Gospel of the Lord. I am not concerned about getting out of here because here I know I am doing the will of God. They do not let me stay up at night to pray, so I pray in bed before dawn. I live here in great joy without any worry, knowing that I am here because of Jesus Christ. The pearls I have found here these days are not always easy to find.
When Saints Peter Sanz, Francis Serrano, John Alcober, Joachim Royo, and Francis Diaz were asked if they could feel the pain from their torture, St. Peter Sanz responded, “Indeed I do, but I think of my Savior’s sufferings.” The guards didn’t understand them because they continued to evangelize even amidst the grueling conditions of their imprisonment. The viceroy of Peking wrote about them,
What are we to do with these men? Their lives are certainly irreproachable; even in prison they convert men to their opinions, and their doctrines so seize upon the heart that their adepts fear neither torments nor captivity. They themselves are joyous in their chains. The jailors and their families become their disciples, and those condemned to death embrace their religion. To prolong this state is only to give them the opportunity of increasing the number of Christians.
May their witness of the Gospel inspire us that we might too face challenges and difficulties with a spirit of joy and perseverance so that one day we may utter the same words St. Peter Sanz’s said at his execution, “Rejoice with me, my friend; I am going to heaven!” Almighty and merciful God, you filled the hearts of the peoples of the Orient with the knowledge of your only-begotten Son through the preaching of your holy martyrs, Francis and his companions. Through their prayers may you now confirm those same peoples in the faith. Through Christ our Lord.