Thursday, June 28, 2007

Solemn mass in memory of Orthodox martyrs in Beijing

Beijing’s Orthodox community celebrated a memorial mass in honour of 222 Chinese martyrs who died during the Boxer Rebellion.

The faithful also participated in a requiem service at the devotion cross installed last April on the spot where the Russian Mission's Church of All the Holy Martyrs used to stand.

Archpriest Dionisy Pozdnyayev led the prayer on June 24, the day dedicated by the Russian Orthodox community to the memory of its martyrs.

The service was held at Orthodox Parish Church of the Dormition at the Russian Embassy before a large congregation of faithful, mostly employees and diplomats.

The martyrs’ remains are inside the church where they were buried upon their death and are revered as relics since then.

The Boxer Rebellion broke out in 1900, not only against the foreign powers that were economically exploiting China, but also against native Chinese who had converted to Western religions and had adopted Western ways. Chinese Christians were particularly targeted because they were seen as traitors.

During the rebellion thousands of Chinese Orthodox perished. Once the remains of the 222 martyrs were found and identified, they were added as early as 1902 to the Russian Orthodox Church’s list of saints when the Russian Synod included them in its official martyrology.

The martyrs of the Catholic Church whom John Paul II canonised in 2000 suffered a different fate.

The papal act was quickly criticized by the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association which called the decision a justification of early 20th century colonialism.

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