China’s first saint was martyred in Wuhan City

St. Jean-Gabriel Perboyre (John Gabriel in English) was a French missionary who was martyred in Wuhan, the capital of China’s Hubei Province where the coronavirus originated. He was canonized in 1996 by Pope John Paul II.

A member of the Congregation of the Mission (CM) founded by St. Vincent de Paul, Perboyre arrived in Macau in 1835. After studying basic Mandarin, he was sent to Henan where he served the poor residents of that province for three years. In 1838, he was transferred to the province of Hubei whose capital is Wuhan.

In September of 1839, the great persecution of Christians in Hubei began. The local Vincentian Mission Center was ransacked but the foreign missionaries went into hiding. Unfortunately, a tortured catechist pointed to the bamboo forest where Perboyre was hiding. He was arrested, stripped of his garment and dragged to court for trial. On September 11, 1840, he was strangled to death on a wooden cross along with seven other “criminals”.

Perboyre was beatified by Pope Leo XIII in 1889. After more than a hundred years, he was proclaimed a saint by Pope John Paul II on June 2, 1996. His remains was moved from China to the Saint Vincent de Paul Chapel in Paris where he was entombed for veneration.

St. Jean-Gabriel Perboyre was born on the 6th of January 1802 to farmers Pierre Perboyre and his wife Marie in Puech, France. He had seven siblings and two of them became priests like him. He studied in a high school that had been started by his uncle, Fr. Jacques Perboyre, C.M.

1. Our Heritage: John Paul Perboyre by Vincentian Center for Church & Society – retrieved April 13, 2020
2. Decree of the Canonization of Blessed John Gabriel Perboyre by Vincentiana – retrieved April 13, 2020

Saint John Gabriel Perboyre
Saint John Gabriel Perboyre (Credit: DR. ANTHONY CLARK via

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