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St. Peter Wu Gousheng

A catechist in China
 

Born: 1768

Died: Nov. 7, 1814

Feast Day: Nov. 7 (also Sept. 28 as one of the Martyrs of China)

Claim to Fame: One of the “Martyrs of China,” a large group of Chinese natives and European missionaries who died for their faith over a three-century period, Peter Wu Gousheng was a lay catechist in the Szechuan region of China. He taught Christianity to more than 600 converts, including many visitors to the inn he operated.

Little-known fact: Even before Peter Wu converted to Christianity when he was 28, he was known in his community for his sense of justice, his care of the poor and his enthusiastic and outspoken nature. When he embraced Catholicism, he approached his faith as enthusiastically as he did everything else in his life, throwing away his household idols and preaching to anyone who would listen.

What made him a saint: Peter was baptized in 1796 and spent the next 18 years teaching others about Christ. Even when a new emperor who was unfriendly to Christianity took over as ruler of China, Peter Wu did not back down from teaching and preaching. When he was tortured, he refused to renounce his faith; instead, he encouraged and inspired his fellow prisoners. He continued to proclaim his belief in Jesus Christ even as he was martyred.

Lowest/scariest moment: In 1813, Emperor Kia-Kin published a decree forbidding Catholicism, but offered pardons to anyone who would renounce the faith. Those who would not commit apostasy, however, would be tortured and killed. Under this law, Peter Wu was arrested and imprisoned on April 3, 1814, and tortured repeatedly to persuade him to renounce Christianity. Instead of breaking his will, Peter Wu used his time in prison to lead prayer services for other prisoners.

Best quote: “Be loyal to the Lord, and accept his will.”

How he died: One of the Martyrs of China, Peter Wu was condemned to death for refusing to step on a crucifix. He was executed by strangulation on Nov. 7, 1814. In his dying words, he proclaimed, “Heaven, heaven, my true home! I see my heavenly mother and my guardian angel coming to take me home.”

Prayer: St. Peter Wu, you held steadfast to your faith even though you knew that you would die for your beliefs. Help us to find the courage to boldly proclaim our commitment to Christ Jesus and to share his message with others as you did. Help us to generously support the work of missionaries who preach the Gospel in lands hostile to Christianity, so that more souls will be brought to God through his Son, Jesus Christ. Amen.