Chinese Martyrs

Chinese Martyrs (traditional Chinese: 中華聖烈士; simplified Chinese: 中华圣烈士; pinyin: Zhōnghuá shéng lièshì; Wade–Giles: Chung1-hua2 shêng4-lieh4-shih4) is the name given to a number of members of the Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox Church who were killed in China during the 19th and early 20th centuries. They are celebrated as martyrs by their respective churches. Most were Chinese laity, but others were missionaries from various other countries; many of them died during the Boxer Rebellion.

Chinese Martyrs
Artwork from Orthodox Christian canonization
Died1648–1930, Qing Dynasty and Republic of China
Martyred byBoxer Rebellion, etc.
Venerated inEastern Orthodox Church
Roman Catholic Church
Anglican Church
CanonizedRoman Catholic: 1 October 2000, St. Peter's Basilica, Rome, by Pope John Paul II
Orthodox: Russian Orthodox Church
FeastOrthodox: June 11
Roman Catholic, Anglican Communion: July 9
Notable martyrsMetrophanes, Chi Sung, first Orthodox Christian martyr to be killed; Francis Ferdinand de Capillas, protomartyr of China; Augustine Zhao Rong, missionary of China[1]

Eastern Orthodox

The Eastern Orthodox Church recognizes 222 Orthodox Christians who died during the Boxer Rebellion as "Holy Martyrs of China". On the evening of June 11, 1900 leaflets were posted in the streets, calling for the massacre of the Christians and threatening anyone who would dare to shelter them with death.[2]

They were mostly members of the Chinese Orthodox Church, which had been under the guidance of the Russian Orthodox since the 17th century and maintained close relations with them, especially in the large Russian community in Harbin. They are called new-martyrs, as they died under a modern regime. The first of these martyrs was Metrophanes, Chi Sung, leader of the Peking Mission, was killed, along with his family, during the Boxer Rebellion. All told, 222 members of the Peking Mission died.[3]

Roman Catholic

The Roman Catholic Church recognizes 120 Catholics who died between 1648 and 1930 as its "Martyr Saints of China". They were canonized by Pope John Paul II on 1 October 2000. Of the group, 87 were Chinese laypeople and 33 were missionaries; 86 died during the Boxer Rebellion in 1900.[4] The Chinese Martyrs Catholic Church in Toronto, Ontario is named for them.


Many Protestants also died during the Boxer Rebellion, including the "China Martyrs of 1900", but there is no formal veneration (according to their religious beliefs) nor a universally recognized list.

At least 189 missionaries and 500 native Chinese Protestant Christians were murdered in 1900 alone.[5] Though some missionaries considered themselves non-denominationally Protestant, among those killed were Baptists, Evangelical,[6] Anglicans, Lutherans,[7] Methodists,[8] Presbyterians[9] and Plymouth Brethren.

See also


  1. "Saint Augustine Tchao at Patron Saints Index". Retrieved 2009-06-22.
  2. "The Chinese Martyrs", American Carpatho-Russian Orthodox Diocese of the United States
  3. "The Holy Martyrs of China", Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America
  4. "120 Martyrs of China", Catholic News Service, July 9, 2018
  5. Culbertson, Howard (2011). "Christian mission history: Important events, locations, people and movements in World Evangelism". Southern Nazarene University. Retrieved 2013-12-25. Ecumenical Missionary Conference in Carnegie Hall, New York (162 mission boards represented); 189 missionaries and their children killed in Boxer Rebellion in China
  6. "The Boxer Rebellion, 1899-1901". Retrieved 2015-07-22.
  7. "Boxer Campaign - Battle of Feng Go Forest - Part 12 of 12". February 16, 2011. Retrieved 2013-12-25.[unreliable source?]
  8. D. L. Hartman. "History of Missions in China". Retrieved 2013-12-25. citing Walter N. Lacy, A Hundred Years of China Methodism, Nashville, Abingdon-Cokesbury Press, 1964.
  9. "American Presbyterian Missionaries Killed During 1900 in the Boxer Rebellion". Presbyterian Heritage Center. 2007. Retrieved 2013-12-25.

Further reading

  • Clark, Anthony E. (2011). China's Saints: Catholic Martyrdom During the Qing (1644-1911). Bethlehem PA; Lanham, Md.: Lehigh University Press; Rowman & Littlefield. ISBN 9781611460162.