Saints of the Day – Blessed Francis Serrano and Francis Diaz

Saint Fracisco Serrano de FriasArticle

Born in Spain; died 1748; beatified by Leo XIII in 1893. These Spanish born, Dominican missionaries were sent to Fo-Kien, China. After 20 years of work in China (now Vietnam), Serrano had been arrested with Blessed Bishop Peter Sanz in 1646. While in prison he was elected titular bishop of Tipasa after the beheading of Sanz on May 25, 1747. Serrano was a resourceful, careful person, which one would have to be to survive in such harsh conditions. He became adept at scaling walls and hiding in unlikely places.

Father Diaz was born in Ecija in 1713. He always claimed that he owed his vocation to having skipped school one day. A white-robed religious appeared to him – a Dominican. The curious boy continued to ask questions about the order, until he convinced himself that he must join. Even though his father tried to persuade his to accept a family benefice instead of entering the austere life of the Order of Preachers, he persisted. He was determined to serve God as a Dominican and to die in China. He preached the Gospel in Tonkin for eight years before his death.

Fathers Alcober, Serrano, and Diaz were captured and tortured to reveal the whereabouts of Bishop Sanz. Despite horrendous punishment, they refused to say anything. Father Joachim Royo and Bishop Sanz, wishing to spare his brothers further suffering, surrendered themselves to the authorities.

The five Dominican, as well as a native catechist named Ambrose Kou, were dragged before the emperor in chains. Again they were tortured, then sentenced to death in December 1746. After the bishop’s death, the other four priests were branded on their faces with the words ta dao (“false religion”) and left for six months to languish in prison.

Serrano, Diaz, and the two other Dominican priests were strangled at night in prison at Futsheu in order to end their evangelizing of the guards and soldiers. When the executioners returned the following morning to dispose of the bodies, they were terrified to see the beatific faces that shone with an unearthly radiance – especially miraculous considering that they died of strangulation. The relics were preserved and treasured by the Christians (Benedictines, Dorcy).

MLA Citation

  • Katherine I Rabenstein. Saints of the Day, 1998. CatholicSaints.Info. 3 August 2020. Web. 27 November 2020. <>