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The Vatican canonizes 120 "saints" that were "martyred" in China.


2000, October 1


In an attempt to strengthen China's underground Catholics, Pope John Paul canonizes 87 Chinese believers and 33 European missionaries killed between 1648 and 1930. Most of the 120 martyrs had died in the anti-Western, anti-Christian Boxer Rebellion in the 19th century.

After decades of communist atheism, Catholicism has been growing strongly among China's middle class in recent years and it is estimated that nine million Chinese Catholics are loyal to the pope.

With this strong geopolitical signal the Vatican refutes the legitimacy of China's state-controlled patriotic Catholic church. The Chinese government condemned the action as an insulting reminder of colonial imperialism and denounced it as a provocation at the anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic in 1949.



Ryan, James D. (2004): Missionary Saints of the High Middle Ages: Martyrdom, Popular Veneration, and Canonization. The Catholic Historical Review - Volume 90, Number 1, January 2004, pp. 1-28


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