堂區主保 - 聖曹桂英

聖曹桂英或名貴英, 洗名雅妮, 生於1821年4月28日, 貴州人, 祖籍四川, 數代信教。

聖曹桂英十八歲時, 有個農夫顏老四, 求人說合, 結為夫妻。但是, 丈夫雖然久已奉教, 卻徒有其名, 因此兩人並不和諧, 而且夫家兄嫂態度冷淡。兩年後丈夫去世, 兄嫂竟狠心把她逐出家門, 桂英逆來順受, 決心為主守節, 當傭工度日。

不久, 桂英邀孀婦丁金鳳同住數年。 金鳳虔誠敬主, 又喜歡幫助別人, 精通經言道理, 每逢神父來, 必熱心告解領聖体, 桂英從她處得到很多教益。

咸豐六年(1856年)正月中旬仇教風波大作。縣衙派了一百多人, 前往搜捕教友十餘人, 可是只把桂英一人押到縣城, 縣令張鳴風立命收監。那時馬神父已自動交付地方官, 被判站囚籠殉道後, 才提桂英審訊。 縣官先說了一番好話, 勸她背教。她絲毫不為所動, 縣官遂以惡言恫嚇, 桂英依然不從; 官命動刑, 她卻寧死不背萬有真主。

審訊的經過是這樣的: 「何人引你奉教?」「我家奉教已經好幾代了。」「你來廣西所為何事?」「聽說這邊有數十戶人家奉天主教, 特來教導他們熱心恭敬天主。無非是教他們經言要理。」「為何白天不教, 專在晚上教呢?」「白天大家要上山作工, 沒有空。晚上纔回來, 所以在晚上教。」縣官又說:「你若不背教, 本縣就要定你死罪。」「縱然死, 也不能背主。」「那麼, 你願意受何等刑罰而死?」「願跟馬神父一樣死。」次日再審, 聖曹桂英異常堅強, 絕不屈服, 縣官判站囚籠致死。

農曆正月二十二日開始聖曹桂英站囚籠, 虔心祈禱唸經, 直到二十五日(陽曆三月一日)臨死時, 一直呼求天主助佑, 斷氣前還在唸:「天主可憐我, 耶穌救我!」享年三十五歲。聖曹桂英之殉道地: 廣西西林。

1900年5月27日, 教宗良十三世宣布她為真福。 2000年10月1日蒙教宗若望保禒二世在羅馬宣封為聖人。

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Our Patron Saint - Saint Agnes Tsao Kou Ying

Agnes Tsao Kou Ying was born in the Village of Wujiazhai in Guizhou Province in 1821. She came from a traditional Catholic family, originally from Sichuan. After her parents died, she went to work in the city of Xingyi where she met a Catholic woman who kindly let her live in her house. When Bishop Bai came to visit, he learned that she was without family and asked her to learn more about Christianity at the local parish. Blessed with a very bright mind, she learned quickly.

At the age of eighteen she married a local farmer, but her brother and sister-in-law treated her as an outsider, leaving her nothing to eat. Two years later, her husband died, and she was driven out of the house. She took odd jobs as a helper, just to earn a living. Then a pious Catholic widow invited Agnes to stay with her. Being a kind and generous woman, she loved to help others. She also had a good understanding of the Scriptures and the teachings of the Church. Whenever a priest visited them this widow received the Sacraments of Reconciliation and the Eucharist. With such an example before her, Agnes was able to cultivate her own spirituality.

One day, when Fr. Ma (Auguste Chapdelaine) was there, he discovered how well Agnes knew the faith and asked her to move to Guangxi for some missionary work, especially for teaching catechism to 30-40 Catholic families living there. In the winter of 1852, she went to the town of Baijiazhai in Xilan County, she made it her headquarters and taught catechism from place to place. She also taught the aborigines how to cook and manage a household, and during her spare time, did babysitting.

When she was helping out in Yaoshan in 1856, she was taken into custody with many others, but they were soon released while she alone had to stay in prison. Father Ma was also kept there until his death in prison for the faith. The county magistrate used the ploy of nice words to get her to deny the faith, but she was unmoved. Then he threatened torture, but she showed no fear. Finally, on January 22, he had her locked in a cage so small that she could only stand up, but her spirit never failed. She prayed repeatedly, "God, have mercy on me; Jesus save me!" Then, on January 25, she cried in a loud voice: "God, help me!" and expired.

Pope Leo XIII proclaimed her "Blessed" on May 27th, 1900, and Pope John Paul II canonized her as a Martyr-Saint on October 1st, 2000.

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