The Holiness of the Church in the Nineteenth Century – Blessed Auguste Chapdelaine

Saint Auguste ChapdelaineArticle

The Blessed Auguste Chapdelaine obtained the martyr’s palm after a comparatively brief period of activity. But he had in earlier years given many proofs of heroic Christian courage. His parents were pious, well-to-do farmers in the village of La Rochelle, diocese of Coutances, where he was born on 6 January 1814. Still they were unwilling to consecrate their son to the service of the Lord, though he prayed for the grace most earnestly and showed by his whole life how well fitted he was for the priesthood. When he was twenty years old, two of his brothers, after a short illness, died in the same week. His parents saw in this a punishment of their obstinacy and now gave August permission to study. He was ordained at the age of twenty-nine and desired to go to the foreign missions, but the bishop was against this. After eight years of patient waiting he was able in 1851 to enter the Paris seminary of foreign missions and the year after went out to China.

On his first attempt to penetrate into the interior from Canton he was captured by brigands and robbed of everything. For nearly two years he labored with the greatest success in the province of Kwang-si, when he was apprehended at Si-lin-hien on 24 February 1856. At his first trial the mandarin ordered him to be given three hundred blows of the stick, but the executioners were allowed full liberty and they did not cease until the body of the martyr was covered over and over with blood. Not a sound of complaint or suffering came from the mouth of the scourged victim. During the whole night and the following day he was bound in so cruel a way that he could not stir a limb without the greatest pain. But when he was again led to the tribunal in the evening all the pains of his torture had miraculously disappeared. At this the mandarin grew furious. He believed that the missionary had used magic. So they poured warm blood from a dog over his head to dispel the charm and beat his face with a thick leather strap until his teeth were broken. On the next day, 27 February 1856, Chapdelaine was condemned to death and was subjected to a slow martyrdom by the “torture of the cage.” When on the following morning the executioners struck off his head, three rays of blood, it is said, streamed heavenward from the wound. But much more must we admire the heroic patience of the martyr in his unspeakable sufferings.

MLA Citation

  • Father Constantine Kempf, SJ. “Blessed Auguste Chapdelaine”. The Holiness of the Church in the Nineteenth Century: Saintly Men and Women of Our Own Times, 1916. CatholicSaints.Info. 23 September 2018. Web. 18 January 2019. <>