St. Andrew Kim Taegon, the first Korean martyr. (Image: fides.org)
Church officials and government representatives in South Korea have agreed to issue commemorative medals to mark the 200th birth anniversary of the first Korean martyr, St. Andrew Kim Taegon.
Bishop Lazarus You Heung-sik of Daejeon, Dangjin mayor Kim Hong-jang and Korea Mint Corporation president Cho Yong-man signed an agreement Oct. 26 on issuing the medals.
The agreement says 200 gold, 2,000 silver and 10,000 bronze medals will be issued to honor the priest-saint by the beginning of December.
The coin is part of the celebrations slated for May 2021 in Dangjin, South Chungcheong province.
The medal will have a portrait of the saint, his autograph on one side against the background of the Myeongdong Cathedral. On the other side, his recognition as a universal patron by UNESCO will be placed.
The proceeds from the medal sales will be set aside for combating the coronavirus pandemic.
"I expect that through the production of commemorative medals, the 200th birth anniversary of Saint Kim will be more meaningful," said mayor Kim Hong-jang.
UNESCO had recognized the patronage of St. Kim Taegon (1821-46) in November 2019 during the 40th general conference held in Paris.
In 2018, the Korean Bishops' conference had decided to celebrate the anniversary of the birth of the 19th-century saint, who was beheaded in Seoul on Sept. 16, 1846, during the Joseon dynasty's persecutions.
He was one of the 103 Korean martyrs canonized by St. John Paul II on May 6, 1984.
In Daejeon Diocese, a shrine is dedicated to the saint, who was ordained a priest in Shanghai and was killed when he returned to Korea along with his companions.
The saint was a known linguistic expert and served as a bridge between the East and the West as he knew how to speak and write in Latin, French and Chinese and wrote several works in those languages.
His study of Western culture contributed to widening mutual understanding between the West and the East.
The jubilee celebrations have already started in Korea, while projects and events are also planned in other countries to honor the saint.