Oil Dedicated to St Theophane
The St Theophane is dedicated to the French Catholic missionary to Indo-China. He was a member of the Paris Foreign Mission Society. He was beatified in company with thirty-three other Catholic martyrs. Most of them were natives of Tonkin, Cochin-China. Subsequently, Pope John Paul II canonised him, with nineteen other martyrs, in 1988.
Théophane Vénard was ordained a priest on 5 June 1852. He departed for the Far East on 19 Sept. After fifteen months at Hong Kong he arrived at his mission in West Tonkin (northern Vietnam). Unfortunately, at the time, it was illegal to proselytise in Vietnam.
Shortly after Father Vénard’s arrival a new royal edict was issued against Christians. Bishops and priests were obliged to seek refuge in caves, dense woods, and elsewhere. However, Father Vénard continued to exercise his ministry at night, and, more boldly, in broad day. Inevitably, on 30 November 1860, he was betrayed and captured. Tried before a mandarin, he refused to apostatize and was sentenced to be beheaded. He remained a captive until 2 February. Also, during this interval he lived in a cage, from which he wrote to his family beautiful and consoling letters. He was joyful in anticipation of his crown. His bishop, Monsignor Retord, wrote of him at this time: “Though in chains, he is as gay as a little bird”.
Martyrdom of Theophane
On the way to martyrdom Father Vénard chanted psalms and hymns. His executioner coveted his clothing and asked what he would give to be killed promptly/ However, he answered: “The longer it lasts the better it will be”. His head, after exposure at the top of a pole, was secured by the Christians and is now venerated in Tonkin. The body rests in the crypt at the motherhouse of the Paris Foreign Mission Society in Paris, France.
The cause of his beatification was introduced at Rome in 1879, and he was declared Blessed, 2 May 1909. He was canonized on 19 June 1988 by Pope John Paul II.