BANGKOK: ABOUT 20,000 people attended the closing ceremonies of a five-day celebration for the beatification of the Seven Martyrs of Thailand. The celebrations, held in Song Kon, a village in the northeast province of Nakhon Phanom, followed earlier ceremonies at the Vatican at which Pope John Paul II proclaimed the martyrs blessed.

The seven martyrs - a catechist, two Religious sisters, a housewife and three teenage girls - were murdered in December 1940 for refusing to renounce their faith during a police drive in Song Kon, to stamp out Christianity.

Thousands of Catholics from throughout Thailand were in the village each day of the celebrations, which included processions and sermons on renewal and conversion. But the biggest crowd came for the closing ceremonies and Eucharistic celebration on Dec 10. Cardinal Michael Michai Kitbunchu of Bangkok celebrated the Mass from an altar set up on the banks of the Mekong River overlooking Laos.

In his homily, Cardinal Kitbunchu recalled the beginnings of the Catholic Church in Thailand more than 400 years ago and praised Church people's faith and courage in overcoming obstacles. The Cardinal, calling the martyrs "beautiful flowers" and models for Catholics in Thailand, told the crowd that Jesus is calling Catholics to carry the cross daily and that the seven martyrs are not only for Song Kon village but for the whole world.

Officiating with the cardinal were: Archbishop Alberto Tricarico, pronuncio to Thailand; Archbishop Lawrence Khai Saen-phon-on of Thare-Nongseng; four Philippine bishops; one Laotian bishop; bishops from the 10 dioceses of Thailand; and 84 diocesan and Religious priests. (UCAN)

The Catholic News. February 18. 1990, - page 8

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