Tuesday, February 7, 2012


Blessed Francis Ferdinand de Capillas
Protomartyr of China
Born 1607 Baquerín de Campos, Palencia, Spain
Died 1648 Fogan, China
Honored in Roman Catholic Church
Beatified 2 May 1909 by Pope Saint Pius X
Canonized 1 October 2000 by Pope John Paul II
 July 9 (with 120 martyrs of China)
Feastday: January 15
Died: 1648
Francis Ferdinand de Capillas(true name in Spanish: Francisco Fernández de Capillas) O.P. (1607–1648) was a Castilian Christian missionary to China. He was the first Roman Catholic martyr killed in China. He was beatified by Pope Pius X in 1909, and canonized by Pope John Paul II in 2000 as the protomartyr of the 134 Martyrs of China.

The Proto martyr of China, a Dominican missionary. He was born in Old Castile, Spain, in 1608 and entered the Domini cans at Valladolid. Sent to China, Francis was successful in Fukien, China, until he was arrested as a spy by the local authorities. He was martyred as a result. Francis was beatified in 1909.

 Born in Vacherim de Campos or Palencia (Valencia?), Spain, 1608; died 1648; beatified by Pope Pius X in 1909 and proclaimed the Proto-Martyr of China. The 17th century was a period of great missionary activity. Many martyrs shed their blood on distant shores. Dominicans and Jesuits contributed a great share to the blood of martyrs. Among this glorious company, the Dominican Francis de Capillas has become the type and exemplar of them.

 Nothing is known of his childhood. He entered the Dominicans at Valladolid at age 17. The Spain of his youth was still ringing with the missionary zeal of Saints Louis Bertrand, Philip de las Casas, and Francis Xavier; the report of the martyrdom of Alphonsus Navarette (June 1), in Japan, was news at the time. Perhaps the bravery of these men helped to fire the young Francis with apostolic longing, for he volunteered for the Philippine mission while he was a deacon. At age 23 (1631) he left Spain and was ordained in Manila. Here, at the gateway to the Orient, the Dominicans had founded a university in 1611, and the city teemed with missionaries travelling throughout the Orient.

 The young priest labored for 10 years in the province of Cagayan, the Philippines, where heat, insects, disease, and paganism leagued against the foreigner to make life very hard. But it was not hard enough for Francis. He begged for a mission field that was really difficult; perhaps, like many of the eager young apostles of that time, he was hoping for an assignment in Japan, where the great persecution was raging. He was sent to Fukien, China, where he worked uneventfully for some years. Then a Tartar invasion put his life in jeopardy. He was captured by a band of Tartars and imprisoned as a spy.

 Francis, like his Master, was subjected to a mock trial. Civil, military, and religious officials questioned him, and they accused him of everything from political intrigue to witchcraft. He was charged with disregarding ancestor worship, and, finally, since they could "find no cause in him," he was turned over to the torturers.

 He endured the cruel treatment of these men with great courage. Seeing his calmness, the magistrates became curious about his doctrines. They offered him wealth, power, and freedom, if he would renounce his faith, but he amazed and annoyed them by choosing to suffer instead. They varied the tortures with imprisonment, and he profitably used the time to convert his jailor and fellow prisoners. Even the mandarin visited him in prison, asking Francis if he would renounce his faith or would he prefer to suffer more. Being told that he was glad to suffer for Christ, the mandarin furiously ordered that he be scourged again "so he would have even more to be glad about."

 Francis was finally condemned, as it says in the breviary, as "the leader of the traitors," these being (presumably) the rebel army that was besieging the city. The official condemnation is stated in those words: "After long suffering, he was finally beheaded and so entered into the presence of the Master, who likewise suffered and died under a civil sentence"


Francis Ferdinand de Capillas is protomartyr of missionaries in China, the glory and pride of the Dominicans.

Born in Baquerín de Campos, in the diocese of Palencia on August 14, 1607, at 17 he entered the Order of Preachers, receiving the Dominican habit in the convent of Saint Paul in Valladolid; yet a deacon he left to do missionary work in the Philippines, landing in Manila.

Here he remained for a decade working hard alongside missionaries and being ordained a priest in 1631; his field of apostolate was the district of Cagayan (Luzon), in which he was able to gather a great flourishing of conversions.

An apostolic soul and at the same ascetic, he was able to join zeal to an extraordinary spirit of penance, he took his short rest stendendosi over a wooden cross and willingly not defended by the bites of insects infesting the region.

He considered that time spent in the Philippines, as a period of preparation for the mission in China, which was granted in 1642.

But in 1644 the Manchu, took over the Chinese Ming dynasty, and were hostile to missionaries and immediately began to persecute Christians.

In early December 1647, Father Francis was captured while returning from Fogan, where he had gone to administer the sacraments to a sick person. Insulted and slandered passed by a court to another, he suffered the torture of malleolus (i.e. make the walk between two asticelle in order to move the bones).

He was scourged, repeatedly blooded, enduring the tortures without cries of pain, so that judges and torturers were surprised at the end. He was moved almost dying in a prison where they locked up those condemned to death.

He was involved in the travel and destination to another missionary who returned via Formosa, to resume the apostolate begun in Fukien; Father Francis Ferdinand de Capillas undertook with all its might to evangelize the region, picking off handsomely in the cities of Fogan , and Ting-Moyang Ten.

His conduct was uplifting, and aroused the admiration of others sentenced to death and prison guards themselves, who were allowed past the foods do not die of hunger.

On January 15, 1648 Father Francis was sentenced to death on charges of disseminating false doctrines and religious sobillato for the people against the rulers.

His death sentence, by decapitation, was carried out at Fogan the same day, he was thus the first martyr of the vast Chinese empire.

He was beatified by Pope Saint Pius X, May 2 in 1909 along with 14 Chinese faithful martyrs and canonized together with 120 martyrs of China on October 1, 2000 by Pope John Paul II, and their collective memory is on July 9, while the liturgical celebration of St. Francis Ferdinand de Capillas is January 15.

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