Unless the seed falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone. If it dies, it brings forth much fruit. John 12:24
On December 16, we celebrate the feast of the Blessed 17 Martyrs of Laos. Laos presents to Christianity its “witnesses of the Faith in the 20th century,” 17 men who died as martyrs between 1954 and 1970. Among them are a young Laotian priest, five Laotian laymen, five priests of the Foreign Missions of Paris, and six Oblates of Mary Immaculate: one Italian and five French.
The 1950s to 1970s were a period of anti-religious sentiment under the Pathet Lao Theravada Buddhist-communist political movement. These 17 men were killed for bringing the gospel to Laotians, refusing to give up their ministries and their Catholic faith.
As it was in Rome or Lyon in the past, the Church in Laos is born from the blood of martyrs. These martyrs have given their lives so that the Gospel might bear fruit in Laos.
The beatification ceremony for all 17 Martyrs of Laos took place in the city of Vientiane, Laos, on 11 December 2016.
Cardinal Orlando Quevedo, OMI, spoke these words during his homily at the beatification: “If the blood of martyrs is the seed of the Church, then we shall surely see the fruit of their spilled blood: in the various places in Laos where they gave up their lives.”
May our 17 Martyrs help us to love and serve others, especially the poor and the needy so that God’s justice, peace, and reconciliation may always reign in your beautiful country of Laos.