Martyrs of China

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An icon of the seventy-plus martyrs killed along with the Priest Mitrophan.
The Holy Martyrs of China were martyred in the Boxer (Yihetuan Movement) Rebellion in 1900. Their feast day is celebrated on June 11.


St Mitrophan, the spiritual father of and one of the Chinese Martyrs of the Boxer Rebellion.

Priest Mitrophan

The priest Mitrophan (also Metrophanes), whose Chinese name was Cháng Yángjí [常楊吉] (Tsi-Chung was a transposed transliteration of the surname and last character of the given name, published in the Great Horologion by the Holy Transfiguration Monastery, Brookline, MA), was born on December 10, 1855. He lost his father in early childhood and was raised under the care of his grandmother Ekaterina and his mother Marina; his mother was a teacher at a school for women. At this time he experienced many troubles. When Archimandrite Pallady became head of the mission for the second time, he charged his teacher Juren Long Yuan to take great care in educating Mitrophan, in order to prepare him for his eventual ordination. Before reaching twenty years of age, he was appointed to the post of catechist. At 25 he was ordained to the priesthood by Nikolai, bishop of Japan.

Mitrophan was a humble person, very cautious and quiet, peaceful and dispassionate; even when faced with great insults, he did not try to justify himself. From the time of his arrival in Beijing (北京, Peking), Archimandrite Pallady charged Mitrophan, as did his teacher Long Yuan, to try to attain the priesthood. Mitrophan, however, did not want to accept ordination and constantly refused it, saying "how can a person with insufficient abilities and charity dare to accept this great rank?" But under the forceful urging of Archimandrite Flavian, succesor to Pallady, and the persuasion of the teacher, Mitrophan obeyed, even though he knew that by accepting the priesthood, his end would be inevitable. Under Archimandrite Flavian, Mitrophan assisted in translating and checking books. For fifteen years, he tirelessly served God while suffering many hurts and insults, both from his own people and outsiders. He finally had a mild breakdown. Sometime after this he spent three years living outside the mission, receiving half of his previous salary. All his life Father Mitrophan was never greedy, and many took advantage of this.


On the evening of June 1, 1900 (which was the 17th day of the 5th month on the Chinese calendar)1, the Boxers (Yihetuan Movement) burned the buildings of the mission. About seventy Christians, hiding from danger, assembled in St Mitrophan's home. Although Fr. Mitrophan's former ill-wishers were among them, he did not drive them out. Seeing that some people were dispirited, he strengthened them, saying that the time of troubles had come and would be difficult to avoid. He himself several times daily went to look at the burned church. On the 10th of June, towards 10 in the evening, soldiers and Boxers surrounded Fr. Mitrophan's dwelling. Up to seventy Christians were there at the time; the stronger among them fled, while Fr. Mitrophan and many others, primarily women and children, remained and were tortured. Fr. Mitrophan sat in his courtyard when the Boxers punctured his chest, and he fell under a date tree. His neighbors removed his body to the mission's almshouse. Later the hieromonk Avraamy picked up Fr. Mitrophan's body and, in 1903, during the first commemoration of the martyrs, it and those of the others, were placed under the altar in the martyrs' church.

Fr. Mitrophan’s family members were also tortured; they included his wife Tatiana and his three sons: the eldest, named Isaiah; the second, called Sergiy, a priest; and the third, Ioann.


On June 11, Tatiana was saved from the Boxers with help from her son Isaiah's bride, but on the following morning, June 12, she was seized along with 19 others and sent to Xiaoyingfang, where the Boxer camp was located, and was finally executed by beheading. An almshouse for the poor now stands on the place of her execution.


Isaiah had served in the military for 23 years. On June 7, the Boxers beheaded him because he was known to be a Christian.


Ioann (John) was only eight years old at the time. On June 10, when his father was killed, Boxers slashed his shoulders and chopped off his nose, ears, and toes. His brother Isaiah's bride managed to save him from death by hiding him in a latrine. In the morning he sat at the entrance without clothes and shoes, and when people asked "Are you hurting?" he answered “It doesn't hurt." Boys scoffed at him, calling him a “child of demons." Shortly thereafter, he reposed.

Ia the Teacher

Saint Ia, head teacher at the Orthodox Mission School, was away taken by the Boxers on June 10, and severally slashed and beaten to near death and buried alive. A non-Christian sympathetic to her suffering, picked up her body and took her to his home and nursed her back to health. The Boxers, finding out Ia was still alive, arrested her yet again, and tortured her until her death, the Name of Christ on her lips as she died. St. Ia the Teacher is sometimes referred to as "Saint Ia the Twice-Martyred".

Apolytikia and Kontakia

From the Greek Tradition

 (3rd Tone, "Seeing how beautiful...")
When you renounced your false ancestral errors all, * you came to know that Christ is God and Lord of all. * When you courageously proclaimed that He is the only Savior, * you endured the suffering and the tortures as if you were * bodiless, and you received from His hand the unfading crown. * And now you intercede for all of China * to see the light of knowledge, O Martyr Saints.
 (4th Tone, "You who were lifted...")
In recent times you imitated the martyrs of former times in your victorious contests, O blessed Saints, for you competed valiantly for Christ. Watering the holy Church of the great land of China with your blood, you have received a crown from Lord’s hand. As you are standing near Him in the heights, commemorate us who honor your martyrdom.
Sweet is the death of Martyrs and full of gladness; for the abuse and tortures endured for Christ bring an abundance of honor. Therefore the great multitude of Chinese martyrs has brought spiritual joy to the entire Church today, as she marvels at their courage and steadfastness of mind, and also their indomitable confession of faith, by which they glorified Jesus the giver of the crowns, after being killed in various ways. We who love martyrs dutifully celebrate them and in faith cry out to them: “Athletes of the Lord, worthy of God, as you are standing near Him in the heights, commemorate us who honor your martyrdom.

From the Russian Tradition

Troparion, 5th Tone
In a pagan land ye were enlightened by the Orthodox Faith, / and having lived in the Faith but a little time, / ye inherited the eternal Kingdom. / By the purity of your Christian ways / ye put to shame the false Confucian piety / and trampled demon-inspired Buddhism underfoot as refuse, / sanctifying the Chinese land with your blood. / Wherefore, we pray: / Entreat the Master of all / that He enlighten your land with Orthodoxy in these latter times, // and strengthen us therein.
Kontakion, 1st Tone
O Martyrs of these latter times, / ye whitened your garments in the blood of the Lamb, / and shed your own blood for Christ. / Wherefore, ye now minister unto Him day and night / in the Church of heaven. / Therefore, entreat Christ for us, O glorious Martyrs, / that He hide His little flock from the beguilement of Antichrist, / and that He lead all of us out of great tribulation // unto a land of never-waning light.

Additional Hymns

Apolytikion, 1st Tone
Minister to Christ, true priest of glory, reasonable sacrifice and blameless victim, thou gavest thyself up to the stadium with thy flock, O father, Chi - Sung in Beijing. Therefore pray for us who keep thy precious memory with faith.'
Apolytikion, 2nd Tone
Thou hast become a participator in the customs of the Apostles and a successor to their throne thou hast found the way of ascending to behold God, by thy faithful struggle unto blood with thy flock in Beijing, O God inspired, hieromartyr Chi - Sung Pray to Christ our God, that our souls might be saved.
A. Rejoice, O priest of Beijing, martyred illustriously with thy flock thou didst destroy the impious schemes of tyrants with the strength of the Lord O Father Chi - Sung.
B. Mitrophan as a pious God speaking minister thou didst weaken the delusions of the impious by thy feats, with thy flock, O Father, protector from darkness and boast of martyrs.

See also

Lives of the Chinese Martyrs


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