The Holiness of the Church in the Nineteenth Century – Blessed Francis Regis Clet

Saint Jean Francois Regis CletArticle

At the same place as Perboyre, but twenty years earlier, another Lazarist, the Blessed Francis Regis Clet, died a heroic death for Christ. He belongs to the glorious band of seventy-seven martyrs who, in the Jubilee year of 1900, were declared Blessed by Leo XIII. With the exception of two, all of these died within the nineteenth century. The birthplace of Blessed Francis Clet was Grenoble, and in 1769, when in his twenty-first year, he joined the Lazarists. After his ordination he taught moral theology for fifteen years, after which he became superior of the novitiate of Saint Lazarus at Paris. In the beginning of 1791 three missionaries were to set out for China. An unexpected impediment arising in the case of one of them, Father Clet urgently begged to be sent in his stead.

His petition was granted. For twenty-eight years he labored indefatigably in preaching the word of God. In 1818, when he had become old and sick, there broke out a persecution of the Christians. On 16 June 1819, the feast of his patron, Saint Francis Regis, after celebrating the Holy Mass he was seized along with the Christians with whom he lodged. Dreadful tortures and prison were now his lot and he was dragged to Wu-ch’ang. In spite of inhuman treatment he was always cheerful and consoled and encouraged his fellow-prisoners. The announcement of the death sentence made the countenance of this old man of seventy-three years radiant with joy. The day of his triumph was 18 February 1820.

Among the seventy-seven martyrs above mentioned there are besides Blessed Francis Clet, twelve others who poured forth their blood on Chinese soil. They are Bishop Jean Gabriel Taurin Dufresse, vicar-apostolic of Sze-Chuen; the Franciscan John Lantrua of Triora; Auguste Chapdelaine of the Paris Missions; the native priests, Joseph Yuen (died 1817), Paul Lieou (died 1818), Thaddeus Lieou (died 1823), and August Tchao (died 1815); the catechists Peter Ou (died 1814), Peter Lieou (died 1834), and Joachim Ho (died 1839); the workingman Lawrence Pe-Man (died 1856), and the widow Agnes Tsao-Kouy (died 1856).

MLA Citation

  • Father Constantine Kempf, SJ. “Blessed Francis Regis Clet”. The Holiness of the Church in the Nineteenth Century: Saintly Men and Women of Our Own Times, 1916. CatholicSaints.Info. 19 September 2018. Web. 27 May 2020. <>