At Our Lady of Consolation, the Trappist abbey, on October 15, 1939, around noon, Chinese Communist soldiers paid an official visit, the Reds claimed, as per the orders of Red Army Division Commander Long Ho and Commander-in-Chief Te Chu (old form of De Zhu).
The officers wanted all weapons to be handed over – immediately. Several hours of unsuccessful negotiations passed between the Trappists and the Communists, both inflexible.
At a stalemate, the monks met off to the side, out of earshot of the Reds and discussed what to do. Some believed they should not comply. Others felt they should. Both wanted to avoid a possible unpleasant circumstance in the future. Finally, a decision was reached. The monks opened the gate and stepped out of the way as the troops entered the compound.
The Trappists willingly surrendered all their weapons – all 28 rifles, which French authorities in Peking had sent after the Boxer Rebellion of 1900, so the monks could protect themselves.
But those 28 rifles weren’t good enough. The Communists demanded the monks also hand over what they had hidden in their arsenal. When the monks responded that they didn’t have any weapons secretly stashed, the Communists refused to accept that answer.
They grabbed Father Antonius Fan, the prior, and dragged him out to the orchard. There, they drew a rope over his chest and under his arms, which they tied behind his back. Then strung up on a tree, he dangled with his toes just a breath away from touching the ground, for three hours, until his tormentors cut him loose.
At the same time, the Communists cornered and questioned Brother Alexius Liu. What that short monk lacked in height, he more than made up for in personal strength as he was physically tortured. When that failed to garner information, the Reds tried to scare him into talking.
Shots were fired out in the orchard.
“Do you hear those shots?” they asked him. “Those are the executions of the monks who didn’t want to talk! That’s the road you’re going to march down, if you don’t declare where the rest of the guns are hidden.”
“Even if you kill me, I have nothing more to say! There are no more!” Brother Alexius answered.
More shots fired.
“Do you hear those? That’s to warn you that you can either talk or be shot.”
“I’m not afraid of dying. Kill me, if you want to.”
They ordered him to step before his executioners.
With fear searing through his blood, Brother Alexius shook uncontrollably as he stepped forward. Someone shouted an order. A shot, fired. A single bullet zinged by, just grazing the monk’s head.
“Talk now, clearly and without evasion and tricks. Where are the other guns and ammunition hidden?”
“To tell you the truth,” he answered, “according to the dictates of my conscience, and for the well being of the abbey, I will once again tell you that there are no more arms, other than the ones you have already seized. No more!”
Exasperated, the soldiers let him go.
After that day, the Chinese Communists continued to harass, target and torture the monks.
Then, on January 20, 1948, Brother Alexius and five other Trappist monks were rounded up and taken to Pan Pu, just a short distance from Our Lady of Consolation. The Communists wanted to make certain that the monks were “liquidated” near the abbey, to use them as an example, as a warning to others. As Tui-Shih Li had ordered, it was time to save face for the Communists. It was time to save their reputation, execution style.
Jostled in the madness, the monks fell to their knees. With their swollen hands tied and chained behind their backs, they couldn’t even cross themselves – In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost – a final time.
The death squad – Communist soldiers at the ready – loaded their rifles with fresh rounds of ammo.
Shots rang out. One, then the next, followed by the next, the monks collapsed upon the blood-splashed, frozen ground. Their lifeless bodies, dragged to a nearby sewage ditch and dumped into a heap, one on top of the other. Alerted by the shots, wild dogs, roaming the village’s dirt roads, scavenging for scraps, hurried over to the bodies to investigate. Sniffing, they lapped up the warm blood, steaming in the icy air.
It was all over. Brother Alexius, the other monks and Our Lady of Consolation was no more.
VIVA CRISTO REY! 萬歲耶穌基督國王!