Today, in the 1962 Dominican Rite Calendar, we celebrate the protomartyr of China, St. Francis de Capillas. The feast is III Class, so the Ordinary Office is prayed. At the time of the 1962 calendar, Francis was a blessed. He was canonized by Pope St. John Paul II on October 1, 2000. He was canonized along with Blessed Peter Sanz and his companions, all of whom are recognized as the Martyrs of China. The traditional feast day for Bl. Peter Sanz and his companions was June 3. Fr. Augustine Thompson, O.P.’s Dominican Rite Calendar (see sidebar) assigns this day as the date for celebrating all of these Dominican Saints who were martyred in China.
Since there is a traditional collect for each feast day, I pray the office as if the day were a II Class feast of many martyrs (psalms and antiphons from the day, with the remainder from the Common of Many Martyrs). I then pray the two collects prayers under one conclusion, followed by the commemoration of St. Paul the Hermit and then St. Maurus).
From Lesson iii at Matins:
Francis de Capillas, a native of Baquerin de Campos, in the diocese of Palencia, entered the Dominican Order at Valladolid at the age of seventeen. As soon as he became a deacon he asked to be sent on the Philippine Mission, and was in fact ordained priest at Manila.
Afterwards he worked faithfully in the vineyard of the Lord, first spending ten years in the province of Cagaian, then moving to Fokien in Chinese territory. In 1648 when the city of Fogan was besieged by imperial troops, Francis secretly slipped in to minister to the Christians there, only to be captured by Manchu Tartars. After severe torture he was beheaded, and merited the crown of martyrdom. His body was buried in a place never since discovered, but his head is reverently preserved in the convent of Saint Paul at Valladolid. Pope Pius X enrolled this protomartyr of China in the ranks of the blessed.
O God, you strengthened the faith of blessed martyr Francis with wonderful constancy; mercifully grant to your church that helped by his prayers she may merit to celebrate new triumphs of faith in every place. Through our Lord…
From Lesson iii at Matins
In the years 1747 and 1748, Peter Sanz, bishop, Francis Serrano, bishop-elect, John Alcober
Joachim Royo and Francis Diaz of the Dominican province of the Philippine Islands, laid down their lives for the Lord. When a persecution of the faithful broke out in the town of Fogan in China, these champions of the faith were led captive to the City of Fuciau and subjected to extreme torture. Yet with great tenacity of spirit they remained steadfast in confessing the faith. By imperial edict, Peter Sanz was beheaded; the others, while in prison, awaiting sentence, were secretly put to death by night. Francis Serrano and Joachim Royo were suffocated, while Francis Diaz and Jon Alcober were garroted. All of these martyrs, glorious in the Lord, were beatified by Leo XIII.
O God, you endowed your blessed martyrs, bishop Peter and his companions, with equal steadfastness and charity that they might preach the faith to the Gentiles; grant, we beseech you, by their example and intercession, that we may stand firm in your faith. Through our Lord…