Blessed Andrew the Catechist, 1624-1644
Feast: July 26
In the 17th century, Andrew of Phú Yên, Vietnam, became a student of Alexandre de Rhodes, a French Jesuit missionary, at the insistence of his mother. A star pupil, he was baptized when he was about 15 years old alongside his mother. Andrew became one of de Rhodes’ closest assistants and soon joined “Maison Dieu” (House of God), a catechist association created by de Rhodes in which members made a public promise to serve the Church by spreading the Gospel and assisting priests for their entire lives.
Andrew made this promise at a tumultuous time for Christians in Vietnam, however. The ruling king had given orders to halt the spread of Christianity, and de Rhodes was given a warning to leave the country, and the king’s men were instructed to round up these catechists.
While de Rhodes was visiting a fellow catechist in prison, soldiers were sent to his house in search of another catechist, but found Andrew instead. He was beaten, arrested and imprisoned by the governor, who tried various things to make Andrew give up his faith, but he refused; instead, he was joyful to suffer for his beloved Christ.
Andrew was sentenced to death on July 26, 1644, when he was only 19 or 20. Both Christians and pagans followed Andrew to a field outside the city, where he told them to stay strong in their faith and help him by praying for him to be faithful to the very end. Just before he was beheaded, Andrew cried out the name of Jesus. Today there is a monument to Blessed Andrew in his diocese.
As the first martyr of the Church of Vietnam, Andrew was beatified on March 5, 2000, by Pope John Paul II.
By Candace Bryant-Lester