Archbishop Jose H. Gomez will honor 117 Vietnamese martyrs today at a special Mass and celebration at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels marking the 35th anniversary of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles establishing a Vietnamese community.
The festivities will begin at 1 p.m. on the cathedral plaza with an exhibit displaying the history of the Vietnamese martyrs, followed by a play and a procession with the martyrs’ relics, the bones of three saints.
Gomez will preside at a 4 p.m. Mass recognizing the Vietnamese martyrs.
“This celebration reminds us of the culture of encounter that we find in the Catholic church,” Gomez said. “From the suffering of these martyrs a courageous church was born and a beautiful Vietnamese Catholic culture that extends throughout Asia and across the ocean to Los Angeles and the Americas.”
The Mass will commemorate the 117 martyrs who were canonized by Pope John Paul II in 1988 in the largest canonization in church history. After Jesuit missionaries brought Catholicism to Vietnam, rulers there banned foreign missionaries and tried to force people to trample on a crucifix.
The martyrs, killed between the 16th and 19th centuries, include Asians and Europeans, priests and lay people who were persecuted for refusing to denounce their Catholic faith.