堂區主保 - 聖曹桂英
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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