June 19th: Blessed Modeste Andlauer,SJ and Bl Remy Isore, SJ
Bl Modeste Andlauer, SJ
Born : May 22, 1847
Died : June 19, 1900
Beatrified : April 17
Bl Remy Isore, SJ
Born : January 22, 1852
Died : June 19, 1900
Beatified : April 17, 1955
Catholic missionaries were permitted to reenter China following the signing of the treaty between France and China in 1858 and by the end of the century the Chinese church was flourishing again. Thousands were converted each year and the building of Catholic churches was on the increase. However the peaceful co-existence between the Chinese Christians and their non-Christian neighbours was soon to end with the impending Boxer rebellion. The dissidents argued that the Catholics by not participating in the public festivals honouring Chinese deities, the official religion of Confucianism, had demonstrated themselves as enemies of the country. Together with this anti-Catholic bias there was an anti-foreign prejudice directed against the missionaries who were frequently accused of enticing the Chinese from their ancestral worship.
The Boxers were a quasi-religious movement and its name was given by the English because of its members’ strenuous martial art training. They especially hated the Catholics and had been planning to destroy them. Their opportunity came when the Empress Dowager Ci Xi in the coup d’état of 1898 overthrew and imprisoned her nephew, the young Emperor Guangxu. While the Boxers knew the Empress Dowager did not officially approve of them, they knew of her desire to rid the nation of unwanted foreigners. As a result they put to death about 30,000 Catholics during the Boxer uprising.
Fr Remy Isore and Fr Modeste Andlauer were the first Jesuits to die at the hands of the infamous Boxers.
Fr Remy Isore was born in Bambecque, France. He studied for the diocesan priesthood initially but after completing his studies at the major seminary he decided to become a Jesuit. He entered the Jesuit novitiate at Saint-Acheul in 1875 and after completing his ecclesiastical studies in France, was sent to China in 1882 and ordained in 1886 after his Jesuit training.
Fr Modeste Andlauer was born in Rosheim, Alsace and entered the Society at Saint-Acheul in 1872 and was ordained in France in 1877. He was four years older than Fr Remy and also arrived in China in 1882.
When the Boxer Rebellion began, Fr Remy, an austere and energetic missionary was stationed in the district of Tianjin. He went to the Jesuit house at Xianxian for rest and also to be with his Jesuit brethren. On June 17, 1900 when he heard that the Boxers were near Weixian he decided to return to his mission to be with his Christians. On June 18 when he arrived at Wuyi, where Fr Andlauer had his mission and stopped to see his fellow Jesuit, he noticed that the Boxers were already in the village. They had come there to free some of their companions who had been captured the previous winter but delayed their departure when they discovered that Fr Andlauer was stationed there.
Both the Jesuits knew that their prayers for martyrdom would soon be answered now that the Boxers were in the village and spent the night in prayer. The next afternoon, June 19, they heard a sharp knock of swords on the residence door and the two Jesuits went into the adjoining chapel and secured the door behind them. Within seconds after they heard the crash of the outside door the chapel door was thrown open violently and the Boxers rushed towards the kneeling Jesuits and took turns to stab them with their lances and the blood of the martyrs flowed at the foot of God’s altar. The next day the murderers exposed the heads of the priests on the village gate to indicate to the Christians what awaited them if they did not return to their ancestral religion.
Frs Remy and Andlauer, Martyrs of the Boxer Rebellion were beatified by Pope Pius XII on April 17, 1955 together with two other Jesuits, Fr Leo Mangin and Fr Paul Denn and fifty-two Chinese lay persons.