From the book ‘Blood of the Martyrs’ by Theresa Marie Moreau
Father Ephrem had brought little else except his dreams, his duties of state, God’s will and the name of the future abbey. Before he had departed from his priory in Tamie, France, for China, he visited his close friend, Father John Bosco, in Turin, Italy. The future saint had suggested the name of the Chapel in which they spoke. Our Lady of Consolation. And so it would be.
The Trappists had answered a call from Bishop Louis-Gabriel Delaplace (Congregation of the Mission), who wanted a contemplative community in his Peking Diocese. The Catholics in Fan Shan village, desperate for the sacraments on a regular basis, offered to sell to the monks an immense valley of rocky, untilled land in Chahar Province (now inner Mongolia Region and Hebei Province.)
Construction was begun in 1905, and, completed in October 1909. Pilgrims arriving for the first time, and, looking down upon the Abbey from any ridge high in the surrounding mountains, saw a Community so large inside its enclosure that it appeared like any village in the hills. A vegetable garden sprouted up in the middle of the valley along with flowering fruit trees, and, of course a luscious vineyard where Brother Ireneus Wang, the self-taught viticulturist, tenderly coaxed the grapes, harvested for the Mass wine.
The Republican Revolution of 1911 had ended the centuries long dynastic rule and made way for the Chinese Nationalist Party, Kuo Min Tang, official Chinese government under the rule of Generalisimo Chaing Kai Chek
Subsequently, the Communists in Moscow, the Red capital of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, sent some of its’ cogs in the Communist International machine to Shanghai, where the ComIntern successfully established the Communist Party in 1921.
Communists successfully infiltrated the Nationalist political machines headed by Generalisimo Chiang Kai-Shek. They were successfully uncovered and ousted because of their incitement and sadistic fondness for mob violence. Especially at the encouragement of their leader Tse-Tung Mao.
The Communists treated the monks with respect, face to face. Avid atheists, Communists consider religion to be of the evils of the tradtional feudal “old world” a declared enemy.
.The Abbey held a cache of weapons, left by prior Japanese troops. The Reds heard of it and made use of this information to approach the Monastery with politeness in their manner, and, on their faces, but with deviltry in their mind. When the Reds demanded the monks hand over their rifles, along with anything else of like nature, they did. The Red believed there was more than the monks were declaring.
They grabbed Father Antonius Fan, the prior, and dragged him out to the orchard. There they drew a rope over his chest and under his arms which they tied behind his back. Then, strung up on a tree, he dangled with his toes just a breath away from touching the ground, for three hours. Then his tormenters cut him loose. For five days, the Communists searched the Abbey, moving furniture, lifting floor boards, digging in the gardens and excavating the storage caves.After a futile search, the soldiers withdrew, apologizing profusely for any trouble they had caused.
Anxiety filled weeks passed, and, thusly, completely under the rule of Red thumbs, the monks made plans and on April 4, 1940, an exodus began but it was not to be so. Rather, it was to be a story of the Trappist monks of Communist China as told from the grave
Blood of Martyrs Was About To Be Spilled
Father Chrysostomus Chang plumbed the depths of his human will for a supernatural strength. With only a few minutes remaining of his life in the material world, he lifted his thoughts to the spiritual. Through screams from the mob, who had so earnestly invited the monks, he addressed his confreres at his side one last time, to prepare them not for death, but for everlasting life.
“We’re going to die for God. Let us lift our hearts one more time, in offering our total beings,” he said.
Helpless, the six Trappist monks stood handcuffed and chained on a makeshift platform, targets of a frenzied hatred that surged toward them. The blood-encrusted, lice-infested men, wearing rags caked in their own filth, had nowhere to run, no one to help them. After six months of mind-bending interrogations and body-rending torture, it was over. It was all over.
The verdict had just been read by a Chinese Communist officer Death. To be carried out immediately.
Hundreds of crazed peasants, those who had invited the monks to live amongst them, administering the Sacraments and saying Mass, raised clench fists and screamed rehearsed slogans of approval for the approaching slaughter. Executioners – reliable Party henchmen – rushed to ready their rifles to exterminate Roman Catholic monks, believers in the superstitious cult, lovers of the God on the Cross, imported from the Imperialist West.
And so it happened on January 28, 1948, in the dead of winter in Pan Pu, an unmapped village, a frigid heathen hell in the Mongolian mountains, somewhere in the frost-covered north of the Republic of China.
Just over the ridge from the pandemonium staged by the soulless Chinese Communist – believers in the materialistic cult, lovers of the god of death and destruction – lay the charred ruins of Our Lady of Consolation, the once-majestic abbey the monks had called home.
Jostled in the madness, the monks fell to their knees. With their swollen hands tied and chained behind their backs, they couldn’t even cross themselves –In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost – a final time.
The death squad – Communist soldiers at the ready – loaded their rifles with fresh ammunition.
Shots rang out. One, then the next, followed by the next, the monks collapsed upon the blood-splashed frozen ground
Their lifeless bodies were dragged to a nearby sewage ditch and dumped into a heap, one on top of the other.
Alerted by the shots, wild dogs, roaming the village’s dirt roads, scavenging for scraps, hurried over to the bodies to investigate.
Sniffing, they lapped up the warm blood, steaming in the icy air.
From the Book: Blood of the Martyrs – Trappist Monks in Communist China
By: Theresa Marie Moreau