Wednesday’s Women: Catherine Yi and Magdalene Cho

by Melanie on July 5, 2017

in Catholicism, Martyrs, Nonfiction, Saints, Sisterhood of Saints, Spirituality, Wednesday's Woman

Note: For the next several weeks I’ll be featuring women saints who knew each other personally–mothers and daughters, grandmothers and granddaughters, sisters, and friends.

The Basics: Catherine Yi, born about 1783, and Magdalene Cho, born about 1807, both in Korea; died September 26, 1839, in Korea; canonized May 6, 1984, by John Paul II; feast day September 20.

The Story: The Catholic Church in Korea was flourishing around the time Catherine was born; it’s

By Vatican [GFDL (], via Wikimedia Commons

estimated that in 1790, there were about 9,000 Catholics. She was raised as a Catholic, and converted her husband to the faith. Their daughter Magdalene discerned a vocation to remain single; while this initially did not sit well with her mother, Catherine eventually acquiesced. A variety of persecutions had occurred during Catherine’s lifetime, but by 1834, the number of Catholics was roughly equal to the 1790 level. At that point, trouble resumed, with all French clergy in the country being executed in part due to suspicion of a desire by non-Koreans to infiltrate their way into the political realm. The mother, now widowed, and daughter chose to move from the countryside into Seoul, hoping to be able to practice their faith more peacefully, but it was not to be. Catherine and Magdalene and three others were arrested about a month after the move.  They refused to renounce Christ despite beatings and torture, and died in prison. They are among the 103 Korean martyrs canonized in 1984.


What We Can Learn from Their Relationship: You don’t have to be famous or shout your faith from the rooftops to experience religious persecution. It had to had been comforting for Catherine and Magdalene to support each other. Consider talking with your daughter, mother, or someone who’s like a daughter or mother to you about the ways in which you feel persecuted for the faith, and ask for supportive prayers.

To Learn More About Them: To learn more about the persecutions before, during, and after Magdalene and Catherine’s lives, read The Origin of the Roman Catholic Church in Koreaavailable online, or visit the site of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Korea.

To Learn More About Other Women Saints and Blesseds: Come back next week, or consider buying my book, Sisterhood of Saints: Daily Guidance and Inspiration.

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