South Korean Catholic Church To Create Monument in Seoul

luvsmiling, Aug. 12, 2015, 10:47 a.m.

The local Catholic Church said Wednesday it will lay a stone at a ceremonial plaza in downtown Seoul to commemorate the first anniversary of Pope Francis' first visit to South Korea. The commemorative floor tile will be put on the northern tip of Gwanghwamun Plaza, where the pope led a mass to beatify Korean martyrs a year ago, the Archdiocese of Seoul said. Cardinal Andrew Yeom Soo-jung will lead a ceremony to unveil the stone on Aug. 23.

Francis visited South Korea from Aug. 14 through Aug. 18 last year for a trip where he also attended a gathering of Asian Catholic youths. His 100 hours in South Korea left an impression on the Korean people as it was packed with meetings with the country's marginalized. The tile, which is 1.7 meters wide and 1 meter long, will have the inscription, "We lay this stone to mark Pope Francis' beatification of Paul Yun Ji-chung and his 123 companions in proclamation of this to the entire world on Aug. 16, 2014, here," according to the archdiocese.

It will become a landmark symbolizing the historical significance of the papal visit and the beatification of the martyrs, the church said. The unveiling ceremony will also be attended by Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism Kim Jong-deok, Seoul Mayor Park Won-soon and some 50 other influential figures from politics and the government. The 124 martyrs are among the first-generation Korean Catholics killed for their faith in the 18th and 19th centuries by Korean rulers who feared the rapid spread of Catholicism would undermine the nation's Confucianism-based ruling ideology.

"The Gwanghwamun area where the Beatification Mass was held is where many early Korean Catholics were killed for their faith," the archdiocese said. "Now this place will become another place of pilgrimage symbolizing freedom and equality." The church said it plans to hold various other events, including a photo exhibition and a concert, to celebrate the anniversary through the end of the month.

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