4/8/2018 0 Comments
April 08th, 2018
Imprisoned for refusing to join the Communist Chinese national catholic church, Father Vincentius Shih was tied up with his wrists roped to his ankles. He could neither stand nor lie down, only sit. For 12 days he remained tied, until finally freed by a guard who couldn’t resist a verbal jab.
“See, the Master of the Sky cannot untie you, but I have the power,” one of the guards said to the priest.
“You would not have done so, if the Master of the Sky had not given you the right inspiration,” Father Vincentius answered.
Furious, the guard clenched his fists and pounded Father Vincentius, all over his head and his body. With the harsh treatment, Father Vincentius’ tuberculosis soon reactivated. Inside his cell, he was exposed to the dank air, prompting his health to deteriorate rapidly. His feet and legs swelled until the skin cracked open. The raw flesh became inflamed and infected, oozing pus and blood. Boils popped up and erupted on his wrists.
But he never complained. And he never asked for medicine.
“It is not a serious matter. Never mind,” he said when others requested treatment for him.
Then in the beginning of August 1951, Father Vincentius could no longer walk out of the cell on his own. When he had to relieve himself in the cellblock’s latrine or attend a political study (brainwashing) session outside his cell, he had to be carried out. Then, on the evening of August 5, a Sunday, he could no longer stand. To eat, unthinkable. Control over his bowels, impossible. Everything emptied onto his cot. Guards transferred him to a smaller cell, and ordered Father Albertus Wei to assist him.
The next morning, August 6, the Feast of the Transfiguration of Our Lord Jesus Christ, after much coaxing from Father Albertus, Father Vincentius sipped down a bowl of broth. In the afternoon, he nibbled at two spoonfuls of boiled rice and refused any more. He grew aggravated. Known as one of the most patient and loving monks of Our Lady of Joy, never before had he displayed any aggravation. He began to babble. Around midnight, in a feverish delirium, he banged his feet on the floor without stopping.
A guard stormed down the hallway from the prison block’s control center to the priests’ cell door.
“Why don’t you be quiet and go to sleep at such time! Stop fooling around!” he hollered.
“Shih is going to die,” Father Albertus said.
The guard ran down the hall to notify his supervisor, Officer Pai. He rushed to Father Vincentius’ cell with a doctor, who gave the priest an injection, then left briefly, but soon returned carrying a bowl of water, with grass floating in it. He held it up to Father Vincentius’ lips, slowly poured the liquid into his mouth, and the priest soon calmed down.
When Father Albertus saw that Father Vincentius had drifted to sleep, he curled up in a corner away from the dying priest, in order to get some sleep himself.
Dawn, August 7. It was a Tuesday. Rain poured outside. Father Albertus awoke, rose and touched Father Vincentius. Dead cold. Father Albertus gave him absolution, then burst into tears, furious at himself for being selfish and falling asleep, furious at himself for missing Father Vincentius’ last words, his last breath. He wept as he washed the body of Father Vincentius, and clothed the dead man in his cleanest dirty rags.
“I would die for this monastery,” Father Vincentius had repeatedly told his fellow monks before his arrest.
And he did -- faithful to Christ and to Pope.
VIVA CRISTO REY! 萬歲耶穌基督國王!
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THERESA MARIE MOREAU is an award-winning reporter who covers Catholicism and Communism.