The only non-clergy woman among the 117 Vietnamese martyrs, Agnes Le Thi Thanh was born in 1781, north of Cocochine (North Vietnam). She married at the age of 17 to another Christian. They led quiet devout lives and had 6 children. Not too many information recorded about her, beside the fact that she led a good Christian life.
Being a woman, the magistrate ordered her to be tortured both physically and psychologically. She was savagely beaten as well as taunted with poisonous snakes. Despite her terrors and suffering, Agnes Thanh maintained her composure with her faith in the Holy Mother. In prison, Agnes Le Thi Thanh was beaten and interrogated repeatedly. Once the guards hit her with a stick, but found she was still brave endurde all the way, so a large wood bar was used to whip her legs. When her husband came in the jail, she told her husband "They beat me very aggressive, not even men would bear it, but I am thankful for Our Lady's grace, should not feel pain". Other times, the tortures used more brutal tactics such as binding her legs together, and let poisonous snakes crawled inside her pants. She panicked, but she prayed so earnestly that God took her words to give extraordinary power to endure the challenges. She kept surprisingly calm, stood still, and did not budge. Snakes did not bite her and eventually got out.
A witness said: "Ms. Agnes has been beaten so brutally that her body was full of blood. Yet she is still happy and still want to endure more". Her youngest daughter visited her in prison, found her clothes patchy blood, and did not stop crying, sobbing with tears. She comforted the children "Do not cry, these are my red roses of courage. I am suffering in the name of Jesus, why are you crying ". Her own husband also urged her to reconsider of their children. She replied: "I entrust the children to you, trust in God. As for me, I will trust and follow Jesus to the end ...."
She finally succumbed to dysentery due to the mistreatment and insanitary conditions in prisons at that time. She was survived by her husband and 6 children. Her feast day is July 12, 1841.
Pope Leo X elevated her to blessed on May 2, 1909 and Pope John Paul II cannonized her on June 19, 1988 with other 116 Vietnamese martyrs. She serves as a role model for Vietnamese Catholic mothers who used prayers and counsels to guide their children. There are 2 churches who named her as their patron saint in Florida and New Orleans.
Vietnamese Martyrs >