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Follow the Stirrings of the Spirit: Blessed Gaius of Korea

Feast Day: November 15

There are times in life when we feel what could be the soft, gentle stirrings of the Spirit calling us to an action. Of course, this is not to say that the end to which we are directed will be known to us before, or even as, we follow the promptings of the Spirit.

This was certainly the experience of Blessed Gaius of Korea (1571–1624). He was given to a Buddhist monastery by his parents, but he eventually left in search of an ever-elusive peace. He lived as a hermit for some time, spending his days in meditation.

Blessed Gaius was taken prisoner by the Japanese when they invaded Korea in 1592. As he was being transported across the sea to Japan, his party was shipwrecked. He was nursed back to health by a Christian in Kyoto. Upon his recovery, he returned to the life of a Buddhist monk in a famous pagoda in Kyoto. He once again failed to find peace, however, and became ill.

Gaius left the temple and was introduced to Jesuit priests. He converted, was baptized and began his instruction in the faith. When he was shown a picture of Jesus Christ, he exclaimed that it was the very same man who had appeared to him all those years earlier in the cave.

He spent the remainder of his life in service, especially to lepers. He helped missionaries by preaching in his native tongue to Koreans taken to Japan. In the end, he was arrested for harboring missionaries and was burned at the stake. His life witnesses to the power of a trusting docility in the Spirit – whether or not one knows the Spirit or knows where the Spirit will lead.