Bulacan parish dedicated to Korean saint now a diocesan shrine

CBCP News Report

Article by: Bro. Kendrick Ivan B. Panganiban

The country’s only Catholic parish in Bulacan province dedicated to a Korean saint was elevated to diocesan shrine status.

In a Mass held Jan. 30, the Parish of Nuestro Señor Jesucristo was formally declared as the Diocesan Shrine of St. Andrew Kim Taegon by Bishop Dennis Villarojo of Malolos.

Located in Lolomboy, a village in Bocaue town, the shrine was built in honor of the first Korean-born Catholic priest who once lived in the area before he was martyred in the 19th century.

The celebration began with a fluvial procession of the saint’s pilgrim image at Bocaue River to re-enact the arrival of the martyr in Lolomboy.

In his homily, Villarojo exhorted the faithful to “learn” from the martyr “who understood very well what it means to live a life inspired by God”.

The bishop also led the blessing of a pilgrims’ museum in old shrine based on Korean architecture and featuring a 15-tier pagoda which is handled by the parish and the Sisters of St. Andrew, a congregation of Korean nuns who also settled in Lolomboy to aid in the promotion of the devotion to the saint.

The event was held as the parish joined the Korean Catholic Church’s year-long celebration of the 200th anniversary of the birth of Kim Taegon, which culminates on August 21, his natal day.

Bishop Dennis Villarojo delivers his homily during Mass to elevate the Parish of Nuestro Señor Jesucristo as the Diocesan Shrine of St. Andrew Kim Taegon in Bocacue, Bulacan on Jan. 30. PHOTO FROM THE PARISH

After being baptized at age 15, Kim Taegon studied at a seminary in the Portuguese colony of Macau as a scholar of the Parish Foreign Mission Society.

Between 1837 and 1841, a civil unrest in China erupted that forced him to seek refuge and continue his studies in a Dominican convent in Lolomboy.

In 1844, he left the Philippines and went to China where he was ordained priest the following year.

Back to his hometown in Seoul to begin catechising Koreans in secret, he was arrested and was beheaded in September 1846 during the wave of persecution launched by the Joseon dynasty.

Kim Taegon was among the 103 Korean martyrs, including 15 women, canonized by St. John Paul II in Seoul on May 6, 1984. Their feast is celebrated on September 20.

Because of the historical importance of the saint’s arrival in Lolomboy, he was declared a secondary patron saint of the parish after his canonization.

On May 2, 1986, the parish was declared as a spiritual twin of “Saenamteo,” also known as the 103 Korean Martyrs Shrine and Parish.

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