'What would we die for?' Pope asks at mass for Korean martyrs
Published on Aug 16, 2014 10:59 AM
SEOUL (AFP) - Pope Francis beatified 124 early Korean martyrs on Saturday at a mass in Seoul and challenged the massive crowd to ask what values they might be willing to die for in an increasingly materialistic, globalised world.
Hundreds of thousands of believers, most of them invited church groups from across South Korea. attended the open-air ceremony, held in hot, humid conditions in Gwanghwamun plaza - the city's main ceremonial thoroughfare.
The centrepiece of the pope's five day visit, the beatification mass was the subject of a massive security operation, with bridges, roads and subway stations closed, and police snipers posted on the roofs of overlooking office buildings, which had their windows sealed.
The most prominent among those beatified was an 18th century nobleman, Paul Yun Ji Chung, who became Korea's first Catholic martyr when he was executed in 1791 after clashing with Confucian officials. According to the Church, around 10,000 Koreans were martyred in the first 100 years after Catholicism was introduced to the peninsula in 1784.
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