The Life of St. John Gabriel Perboyre, "The Saint of my Birthday" By: Katie A. McCarver

St. John Gabriel Perboyre was a martyr of the Congregation of the Mission. He was born in Montgesty, France, on January 6, 1802 into a devout Catholic family that included two Daughters of Charity and three missionaries working with St. Vincent.

He unexpectedly found his path when he was asked to accompany his younger brother, Louis, to the seminary to help him get adjusted to it. He found that a religious vocation was his calling as well as his brother's. He became a priest.

Louis asked to travel to China to spread the gospel as a missionary and joined the Congregation of the Mission. Louis passed away during the journey; he was 24. St. John Gabriel asked to replace him, so he could do what his brother had hoped to do.

He arrived in China in 1835. China wasn't known for its tolerance of Christianity. St. John Gabriel spent some time getting adjusted in Macau; then, Nanyang, Henan. He spent thirteen months, eight traveling to the former places, before he could speak Chinese; however, he did have some difficulty. After preaching in many small towns, he was moved to Hubei. He suffered physically and spiritually.

On September 15, 1839, St. John Gabriel was notified that there was a hundred soldiers looking for him. He was in Cha-Yuen-Ken, where he was living, at the time. He hid in the mountains, but the soldiers threatened a catechumen to let them know where he was. He was promptly arrested.

He went through several trials. The first at Kou-Ching-Hien, where his harrowing faith was displayed. He never once denied his faith in Christ. The second was at Siang-Yang where he was hung by his hair and thumbs, a method of torture known as hangtze, and was beaten repeatedly with bamboo sticks. The third was at Wuchang, where he was interrogated 20 times. There were several preposterous, but no less detrimental, accusations presented against him. He was sentenced to death.

On September 11, 1840, he was led up Red Mountain with seven criminals to be executed in Wuchang, China. He prayed before he was tied to a cross and strangled. He died during the sixth hour. His feast day is celebrated on September 11.

St. John Gabriel Perboyre, please pray for me to learn to have strength and faith you have. Despite being tortured for your beliefs, you openly proclaimed your faith. Please pray for me to learn to be that loyal.

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