Sts. Gregory Grassi and Companions (d.1900)
for July 8
In the late 1800s, Russia, France, Britain and Germany forced China to relinquish large portions of its territory. This heightened already powerful xenophobic elements in Chinese culture and resulted in an intense hatred of foreigners. Among others, missionaries became targets of Chinese frustration. Saint Gregory of Grassi, born in 1833 in Italy and ordained in 1856, was the Bishop of Shanxi. Along with 14 European missionaries and 14 Chinese religious, Saint Gregory Grassi was put to death during the Boxer Rebellion in 1900. He and his companions are part of this group of 120 martyrs who were canonized in 2000.
Image via Wikipedia
St. Gregory Grassi and his fellow martyrs are a powerful tribute to the sacrifice of Christians and to the courage of humans trying to assert both their faith and their right to choose their own faith. When we read of such heroes, it is important to remember that they do not exist solely in antiquity--there are, at this very moment, thousands of Christians around the world asserting their right to choose their faith against violent oppressors who want them to denounce their faith. They are becoming saints. You too can be a saint.
Ask God to make you a saint.