On the next day, Monday 4th July, dedicated to St Elizabeth of Portugal, i arrived only in time for the final blessing of the 6am Mass at the church, but was glad to be able to make use of the facilities for a cursory wash. The weather then was brighter and less muggy; a lady could be seen carrying a parasol rather than an umbrella as i made my way through the peaceful high-rise commuter-belt, noting a new kind of yellow-and-blackbird, and huge blue-black butterflies the size of sparrows. One also encountered squadrons of dragonflies, Korea being a place where they can be seen flying in formation (only joking about that bit).
|Hwaseong Fortress, Suwon.|
On the morning of Wednesday 6th July, dedicated to St Maria Goretti, i entered the grounds of the shrine, and left my bags in a shed for gardening implements at the back of a small chapel. In beautiful sunshine i then made my way along the 'rosary way', through immaculately tended gardens, laid out around a sort of bowl created by steep surrounding hills. Great big granite spheres represent each bead of the rosary. Like the church at Saenamteo, the shrine is built on a site where an unknown number of Koreans were martyred for their Christian faith. Of the origins of Christianity in Korea, Blessed John Paul II had this to say in Seoul in May 1984, as he marked the occasion of the canonisation of the Korean Martyrs:
“Yearning for an ever greater share in the Christian faith, your ancestors sent one of their own in 1784 to Peking, where he was baptized. From this good seed was born the first Christian community in Korea, a community unique in the history of the Church by reason of the fact that it was founded entirely by lay people. This fledgling Church, so young and yet so strong in faith, withstood wave after wave of fierce persecution. Thus, in less than a century, it could already boast of some ten thousand martyrs. The years 1791, 1801, 1827, 1839, 1846 and 1866 are forever signed with the holy blood of your Martyrs and engraved in your hearts.”