Thai pilgrims: Pope not just for Catholics, but for the world
A group of pilgrims who traveled from Thailand to participate in events surrounding Pope Francis’ visit have expressed their joy at seeing him, particularly for the beatification of 124 Korean martyrs.
“It is the first time have attended such a huge event with so many people. And I just heard on the news that about 1 million people attended the mass, and only about 17 to 19 percent of them were Catholics,” one of the group members, Theresa, told CNA Aug. 17.
“I think that the Pope is not just for Catholics, but for the world. He is for peace, and his kindness to the whole of humanity” displays that, she said.
Coming as part of a group of 50 from Sacred Heart Parish in Taipei with her twin sister, Theresa explained that participating in the Aug. 16 Mass with Pope Francis, during which he beatified 124 Korean martyrs, was especially impactful.
“I was very touched, even though I don’t know the language and I don’t know the Koreans, the whole atmosphere was quite great.”
During his homily, Pope Francis spoke of the great witness that the martyrs give, stating that “All of them lived and died for Christ, and now they reign with him in joy and in glory.”
“The victory of the martyrs, their witness to the power of God’s love, continues to bear fruit today in Korea, in the Church which received growth from their sacrifice,” the pontiff told the congregation, asking what each of them would be willing to give up their life for.
Reflecting on what the witness of the martyrs means for her personally, Theresa recalled how the parish priest leading the group has asked them to reflect on the topic throughout their five day journey, saying that “I need to reflect more.”
“In Taiwan we do not have such occasions (of martyrdom) because our religion is quite free, but during our daily lives we can also do little small things to witness to God,” who is “love, and truth and hope.”
“I think if we can do little things day by day and express such faith, such truth to all, and make some little sacrifices, I think it’s a tiny, tiny small way of martyrdom,” she said, recalling how she had seen photos of the martyrs that were beatified, which were displayed throughout the Mass.
When seeing the faces of those who were killed for their faith, Theresa noted that “they are had such a big smile, and they don’t feel any pain in such a strong sacrifice. I was really touched.”
One of the priests serving as a guide for the trip, Fr. Pak Yont-Chon, explained to CNA Aug. 17 that as a Korean native, “I already know these martyrs.”
Speaking on the significance of being present for their beatification with Pope Francis, Fr. Pak stated that “in my case I went to Brazil and saw the Pope, and then this year I saw the Pope again,” so to see him beatify the martyrs was “such an awesome and wonderful experience.”