Celebration of the Bicentenary of the Birth of St. Andrew Kim Tae-gŏn
On August 21, 2021, the Catholic Church in Korea marked the 200th Anniversary of the Birth of St. Andrew Kim Tae-gŏn with celebrations at national, diocesan and parish levels. These bicentenary commemorations were part of the Jubilee Year celebrations. The Jubilee Year, themed “Are you a faithful Catholic?,” began on November 29, 2020 and will conclude on November 27, 2021. On this occasion, the bishops of Korea concelebrated Mass at the Shrine of Solmoe in the Diocese of Daejeon, the birthplace of the saint. The Most Rev. Augustinus Kim Jong Soo, Apostolic Administrator of Daejeon, presided. Each diocese also commemorated St. Andrew Kim with Masses in more than 1,750 churches nationwide. For those unable to physically attend Mass due to COVID-19, the Mass offered at the Shrine of Solmoe was live-streamed on Catholic media. Pilgrimages, various spiritual, cultural and prayer events were also organized for the day.
At St. Peter’s Basilica, the Most Rev. Lazzaro You Heung-sik, Prefect of the Congregation for Clergy, celebrated Mass with the Korean faithful in Rome. Archbishop Lazzaro You delivered a message from Pope Francis addressed to the Korean faithful. In the message, the Pope praised St. Andrew Kim as “an exemplary witness of heroic faith.” He called the saint a tireless apostle of evangelization, even “in difficult times, marked by persecution and suffering for Korean people.” He expressed his desire that work for reconciliation on the Korean Peninsula would continue “with renewed commitment to be good peacemakers, encouraging everyone to a respectful and constructive dialogue for an ever brighter future.” In his homily, Archbishop Lazzaro You said that “the Jubilee Year grants us grace to renew our mission during the COVID-19 pandemic, which unfortunately seems to have accentuated our tendency towards selfishness and discrimination within society.” He underlined how the saint’s example “might teach us the path with which we can deal with the current crisis.”
In his homily at the concelebrated Mass in Solmoe, Bishop Augustinus Kim said, “the saint, who dedicated himself to caring for the spirituality of his sheep, remains in our hearts as a good shepherd.” He added, “we also remember Venerable Servant of God Thomas Choe Yang-eop” who committed himself to serving the Church in Korea “until death on the road, by visiting every corner of the country to celebrate the sacraments.” He expressed his hope that “the two great priests, St. Andrew Kim and Venerable Thomas Choe, will continue to remain as powerful pillars for our spiritual life.”
In their respective congratulatory messages, H.E. Andrew Cardinal Yeom Soo-jung, Archbishop of Seoul, and the Most Rev. Matthias Ri Iong-hoon, President of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Korea and Bishop of Suwon, invited the faithful to follow the example of courage and passion shown by the saint. Cardinal Yeom stressed that remembrance of “the saint’s great courage, burning love and steadfast attitude once again awakens our passion inherited from the Korean martyrs.” Bishop Ri also emphasized the firm faith and spirit of martyrdom, saying that “St. Andrew Kim’s exemplary life goes beyond time and space.” He continued, “the saint who was born in a small village called Solmoe became a great saint remembered and venerated by the universal Church.” He urged the faithful to emulate the faith and spirit of martyrdom manifested by “the saint who lived his life following in Jesus’ footsteps and dedicated his entire life for the Catholic Church in Korea.”