The Holiness of the Church in the Nineteenth Century – Blessed Peter Lieou

Martyrs of ChinaArticle

An especially heroic courage was displayed by the Blessed Peter Lieou. When a young man he embraced the Catholic Faith and, making confession of it in 1797, was thrown into prison, but was released through the intervention of a family of great influence. In the year 1814 he was again imprisoned and banished into Tartary. Thirteen years elapsed before he could return home. A new persecution began and the two sons of Blessed Peter were made prisoners. The father feared for their constancy. “I am now eighty years old,” he said to his wife, “the mandarins have taken our sons from us and I am afraid our children may not withstand the trial. I will go to encourage them and show them how to be loyal to Our Lord. If the mandarins seize me, so much the better. I can stay near my sons and strengthen their courage by word and example.” He succeeded in entering the prison, but was seized and brought before the judge. “If it is a crime to confess the Christian religion,” he said at his trial, “then I am more guilty than my sons, for I instructed them in that holy religion, and therefore it is but fair that I suffer those se- vere punishments. But if I am not guilty neither are my sons and their wives, and, therefore, you must set them free.” The judge cried out angrily: “You have already been exiled for your disobedience to the imperial laws which forbid the Christian religion. The emperor has pardoned you and now yqu have the effrontery to offend him by persevering in this religion.” The old man was then given ten blows in the face and sent to the prison. He bowed to the judge and said: “I thank you for this great favor.”

The rest of the Christian prisoners behaved in like manner, so that the astonished heathens exclaimed: “Who has ever seen prisoners that rejoice and glory in their chains!” It was Peter Lieou before all that sustained the courage and joyfulness of the confessors of Christ. While all the others were sent into exile, he alone, after further tortures, was condemned to death. When they brought him to the place of execution on 17 March 1834, he said to the executioner: “Wait but a moment till I finish my prayer.” He made the sign of the cross, commended his soul to God, and then said: “I have finished my prayer, now I am ready.” One pull on the rope brought an end to this glorious life. Heathens as well as Christians testify that at this moment among other miraculous signs a beautiful crown descended from the heavens upon the head of the martyr and disappeared only some minutes later. The executioner was greatly moved and declared: “This Christian religion must of a surety be a good religion.” The Christians began from that time to manifest their veneration toward this steadfast martyr.

The heroic deaths of the other Blessed martyrs of China exhibit similar striking traits of supernatural constancy.

MLA Citation

  • Father Constantine Kempf, SJ. “Blessed Peter Lieou”. The Holiness of the Church in the Nineteenth Century: Saintly Men and Women of Our Own Times, 1916. CatholicSaints.Info. 23 September 2018. Web. 19 November 2018. <>