On November 24, the Church celebrates the memorial of St. Andrew Dũng-Lạc, martyred in Vietnam in the 1800s—a seemingly ordinary convert Saint who showed quiet but extraordinary zeal.
He was born as Ahn-Tranh Dung to a poor Vietnamese family. After they moved to Hanoi in his youth, his life was changed under the tutelage of a lay catechist, a privilege usually reserved for the wealthy. Ahn Trahn would be greatly influenced by this teacher, eventually converting to Catholicism and taking the name Andrew at his baptism.
After his conversion, Andrew went on to become a catechist himself and was eventually ordained a priest in 1823. That same year, the emperor of Vietnam banned foreign missionaries and commanded Vietnamese Christians to renounce their faith by publicly trampling crucifixes. In the midst of this, Fr. Andrew’s preaching and simplicity of life continued to lead many others to be baptized and live a life in Christ. This work led to his arrest in Hanoi, though he attempted to circumvent the growing persecution.
Upon being ransomed by his parishioners after his first arrest, Fr. Andrew changed his name to “Lac” and moved to a different region to evade the authorities. He was saved from prison on more than one occasion, receiving help from Christian communities around Vietnam. However, Fr. Andrew could not escape the era of persecution in the country, despite his best efforts. Eventually, after being arrested and ransomed multiple times, Fr. Andrew Dũng-Lạc would be tortured and beheaded, dying a martyr’s death in 1839.
He was canonized in 1988 by Pope St. John Paul II. St. Andrew Dũng-Lạc, pray for us!