From the 17th to 19th centuries, according to the Vatican, an astonishing 130,000 and 300,000 Christian missionaries and converts were killed in Vietnam, as the state sought isolation from the encroaching West. Christians who refused to trample on the crucifix were executed; some of those spared were tattooed on their faces with the words tà đạo, meaning “heresy.”
Of these martyrs, 117 have been canonized. Their causes of death: 76 beheaded, 21 suffocated, 6 burnt alive, 5 mutilated, and 9 died in prison as a result of torture. One of the first to achieve sainthood was Andrew Dũng-Lạc, born Dung An Trân in the province of Bắc Ninh, a tireless priest remembered for living a simple and moral life. He was arrested and ransomed at least twice, in 1835 and 1839, before he was executed, alongside Saint Peter Thi.
Just a few hundred years later, today in Vietnam 7 million people identify as Catholic — something like 30 for every member of the dead.