Saint Jean-Charles Cornay, Priest and Martyr
Loudun, France, February 27, 1809 – Son Tay, Vietnam, September 20, 1837
Today the Church remembers the many Martyrs, ancient and modern. For example, the massive group of those killed in Korea in the nineteenth century. Jean-Charles Cornay was a French priest who, instead, was killed in contempt of faith in Tonkin (Vietnam). And in a very bloody: he was torn to pieces. He belonged to the Institute for Foreign Missions of Paris and had arrived in Macao. Precusagli the way to China, his goal, he remained in Tonkin. Here he was betrayed, falsely accused of fomenting an insurgency, tortured, and – after refusing to recant – sentenced to death in 1837 at age 28.
Roman Martyrology: In the fortress of Son-Tay Tonkin, now Vietnam, San Giovanni Carlo Cornay, priest of the Society for Foreign Missions of Paris, and Martyr, who, after cruel tortures, by decree of Emperor Minh M Ng was rendered into pieces and eventually beheaded for his Christian faith.
Many missionaries and indigenous Christians sprayed the Vietnamese earth with their blood, being killed for their faith in God. 117 of them, Tonkin Martyrs, were canonized in Rome June 19, 1988 by Pope John Paul II and among them was the French priest Jean-Charles Cornay.
Born in Loundun, in the French department of Vienne, 27 February 1809, his parents were Jean-Baptiste and Françoise Mayaud, they raised him and his two sisters in the faith. Subsequently he studied at the college of Saint-Louis, Saumur and later with the Jesuits of montmorillonite. He wast a regular student, humble and with a gentle character.
His vocation surprised his parents; when he expressed the desire to become a missionary he was met with reluctance and misunderstanding. He had to start his first battle at a time to respond positively to the call of God, opposing the opinion of parents, while affirming his filial love.
He spent a brief period at the Seminary of Foreign Missions of Paris, a period of uncertainty due to the revolution of July, in which the seminary was a target. Jean-Charles recorded it in his memoirs: “Hier on penetrate dans notre séminaire et l’on a affiché sept ou huit portant Mort aux billets Jésuites de la rue du Bac, et comme poignard a signature”.
His departure was sudden for Cornay replaced another missionary. His destination was to be Seu-Tchouan in China two thousand kilometers from the coast. He landed in Macau after six months of travel. Had to reach Tonkin, but the two guides sent to meet him never arrived. Jean-Charles Cornay finally arrived in Tonkin in 1831, the height of anti-Christian persecution.
As time passed, his hopes of reaching China one day decreased. He decided to remain in this land and on April 26, 1834 he was ordained to the priesthood by Bishop at Havard Hanio after a trip on the Red River disguised as Chinese. During the grueling period in which he exercised his ministry he was always calm, cheerful and characterized by a spirit of holiness.
In 1835 he was arrested by French missionaries and others against him, the authorities forged a charge of treason for having buried the weapons in a land they tilled. He was then locked in a series of bamboo cages, a torture very common in Vietnam at that time, and since he was young and had a beautiful voice was forced to sing for his persecutors, but he chose to sing the Salve Regina. Finally he was sentenced to death by the court subremo and, on the orders of Emperor Minh Mang, beheaded September 20, 1837 at the fortitude of Son Tay.
In his last letter to his parents, he wrote: “You will receive Lorsque cette lettre, mon cher père, ma chere mere, affligez ne vous pas de ma mort, en consentant à mon départ, vous avez déjà fait la plus grande partie du sacrifice. Under the terms of the award, his body was then “cut into pieces and […] the head, after being exposed for three days, […] thrown into the river.” The courageous example of Cornay determined the vocation of St. Theophane Venard. The Martyrologium Romanum today commemorates St Giancarlo Cornay, on the anniversary of his birth into heaven.
Author: Fabio Arduino
Source: Santi e Beati