Saint Paul CHEN

Seminarian, Martyr of China







In the chapel of the Holy Childhood (or missionary childhood), located in the north aisle, is placed the reliquary of Saint Paul CHEN.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007, after presiding over the Eucharist, cardinal Yvan DIAS, prefect of the Congregation for the evangelization of peoples. was caught in this Chapel of missionary childhood, before the relics of Saint Paul CHENthus perpetuating the dedication of this altar.



Saint Paul CHEN

October 1 of the Holy year 2000, in the holiday of St. Therese of the child Jesus boss missions, Jean Paul II canonizes 120 martyrs of China. This group includes the missionaries European and Chinese, bishops, priests, nuns, seminarians, catechists of the catechumens and many lay people. There are 87 Chinese, 13 french, 12 Italians, 6 Spaniards, 1 Belgian and 1 Dutch. They summarize a slice of history for the evangelization of China that goes from the XVII century to 1930.

Among them Jean-Pierre NÉEL (of the Foreign Missions of Paris), François Régis CLET (Vincentian)... and Paul CHEN, Chinese seminarian.


Paul CHEN (Chen Changpin) was born on April 11, 1838 in Sintchen in the Chinese province of Kouy-tcheou (Guizhou). His family is not Christian. He is instructed by the Holy Childhood and entered the minor seminary in 1853 where he is baptized and confirmed on the day of Christmas of the same year. He made his first communion in 1854. Gentle and quiet character, he works diligently
In 1857 his father asks him to return home but he strongly refuses because his vocation is solid.
In 1860 he entered the great seminary of Tsin-gay, this is where he was arrested and decapitated on 29 July 1861 with another seminarian Joseph Chiang, a Christian Jean-Baptiste Lô and Martha Wang, the cook of the seminary. The seminary is destroyed by the soldiers.

These four martyrs are declared venerable in 1879 and then beatified on May 2, 1909 by Pope Pius X. Today canonized, the 120 martyrs of China are celebrated on July 9th.

Paul CHEN is one of school children by the work of the Holy Childhood, today called missionary childhood. He likes the prayer, games, songs, and taught the Gospel by heart. He receives baptism and decided to become a missionary as Father Louis FAURIE, his master of catechism. He is admitted to the seminary, learned the trade of Carpenter, studied latin and theology with passion and dreams of becoming a priest. Persecution against Catholics breaks his dream on July 29, 1861. Paul is executed with other Catholics, he was only 23 years old. Paul Chen is the first child Chinese to become a seminarian, martyr and saint. Beatified in 1909, his relics are brought to Paris and filed in the Notre Dame Cathedral on 10 June 1920. He will be canonized by Pope John Paul II in 2000.


Can be read in the annals of the work of the Holy Childhood story of the office in which the relics of Paul Chen were brought to Notre Dame:

"On Thursday, June 10, 1920, Notre Dame de Paris received the valuable remains of a young Chinese martyr, seminarian raised by Holy Childhood. Already the illustrious Basilica had hosted large dead: this time yet its walls could be surprised. One who crossed their threshold demanded indeed another thing and better than the brilliance, the incomparable brilliance that they add to any funeral pump. In its path there is no device of mourning. On the contrary: the high altar, beautifully, deploying the adornment of a purple, and purple celum again, among the foliage and flowers, a chapel was waiting.

How did the son of Asia come to Paris to seek a burial?

By what strange mystery Notre Dame before his coffin was breaking with uses that did were the biggest kings themselves?

We tell you in a few words.

When a Christian, so humble that he, shed his blood for Jésus Christ, aren't funerals that Church is preparing her, but it's fame, it's the triumph.
That's why the young martyr, entering at Notre Dame received these honors.

Collected and raised by the work of the Holy Childhood, he had to his salvation to the Holy Childhood, so it was only natural that he was brought to Europe and he brought to Paris, centre and cradle of the work, the Palm of his victory.

It is 4 o'clock in the evening. The vast Basilica is long overrun by the partners of the Holy Childhood. The deputations from the orphanages, schools, colleges, sponsorships fill and overflow the central nave: among them, the number of priests, religious, religious.

In the choir took place three seminars of missions: Foreign Missions, Saint Lazare, the fathers of the Holy Spirit. Before the chorus, we see a group of young Chinese. But suddenly a procession unfolds.

Carried by four deacons to the rich red dalmatics, the most beautiful of the Cathedral, here comes the hunting of the martyr. Four clerics before and four others follow: all are clad in purple tunics, all hand wear flippers.

At this time the enthusiasm, the excitement is irresistible. A song rises, it is the song of triumph: Magnificat !

Hunting is filed in front of the choir, and all eyes are fixed on it.

This moved home, the triumphant martyr was to speak. A venerable Bishop, the Dean of the Bishops of Asia, S. G. Mgr Reynaud, Vicar Apostolic of the Eastern Tche-Kiang, was his eloquent interpreter. As he won the Chair, all those who follow closely the history of missions recalled the long and splendid career provided by this Apostle and how, lately, the Chinese Republic was rewarded by one of his decorations, his charity and his dedication.

The Cardinal Amette, who presides over the ceremony came and sat on the work bench. Never on her face we live more radiant joy. Around him gathered five missionary bishops. These are: Bishop Roy, Bishop of Alinda and superior of the fathers of the Holy Spirit; Bishop Cuaz, Bishop of Hermopolis minor, Bishop Barilion, Bishop of Malacca, Mgr. Lemaître, Vicar Apostolic of the Sahara, Mgr Lerouge, Vicar Apostolic of French Guinea.

Young associates are happy to see the zealous Director of the Œuvre, Bishop of Teil. Is this not him who knew how to organize this party and that the activity, always tireless despite all obstacles unfolds with so much faith, piety and devotion to the service of the work? There are also Bishop Graffin and Mgr Dieu; very many friends, protectors or representatives of the Propagation of the faith and of the Holy Childhood.

In exquisite terms, Bishop Reynaud thanked Cardinal Amete for the valuable encouragement his presence brings to the work. He also says thank you to the venerable chapter that receives the remains of the martyr in his cathedral. Then he sends a cordial greeting to the missionary bishops his revered brothers of arms. We are working, he says, in various climates but our joys are common as also our sorrows. A few months ago we were mourning together the loss of the Valiant missionaries who died on the edge of Africa: Yesterday we were cheering with the universal Church for the young martyrs of the black continent. Today, it is the triumph of a Chinese seminarian who brings us together, a martyr of a province where the fathers of foreign missions work. »

With great simplicity, but what tasty distinction the Bishop tells the story of the martyr to the partners of the work. Unfortunately a lack us of space to reproduce this touching story. In listening to it, we had tears in the eyes.

Bishop Reynaud congratulates the Young associates whose magnificent work has produced so consoling results in the missions.

Do you know, he says to the children, what by your alms, your little sacrifices you accomplish? Here it comes in three words: you give to the little children who do not know Christ the three most beautiful, the three best things in the world: Life, Mothers, heaven.

Life, because still today, despite the laws and prescriptions infanticide is rampant in China and thanks to your alms 100,000 poor little ones are torn to death every year. "To these children you give mothers, for what other name to call the good and devoted sisters who collect them, baptize them, raise them?"

"The partners must love the Missionary Sisters." They must even be proud of themselves. These valuable auxiliaries of the priest in the mission country are today indeed more numerous than the missionaries. Their congregations and communities bear different names, but all have the same purpose: Holy childhood. They are like a twig, one of the most beautiful branches of the work.

"You give the sky to little children who do not know Christ." Each year the Missionary sisters, the priests, the catechists baptize almost 500,000 grandchildren. By providing them with salvation, what friends and protectors the Associates ensure in the sky. »

H.E. the Cardinal thanked Bishop Reynaud for his fine speech and advice. He wishes to express his joy at seeing his cathedral, this immense cathedral, filled with the young associates of the Holy Childhood. He exhorts them to be small apostles through prayer and sacrifices and wholeheartedly he gives them his blessing.

The young aspirants of missions seminarians sing in the choir singing of Gounod's departure: Go heralds of the good news

Powerful organs of their voices accompany this song. Preceded and followed by the levites wearing flippers, Hunt then down the nave. The emotion is intense. It evokes, you'd see a scene of the catacombs.

Slow, Majestic the procession is running. The perfect order, the noble deployment, the intelligence of the ceremonies, these are, we know, traditions to Our Lady. But suddenly, O Marvel as a loose sheaf, in profusion the sun spreads on the hunt and on the steps of the clerics the multi-colored flowers of one of the rose-glass of the transept. However the singing continues. In the hands of the clerics the fins quiver.

This time the procession won the lateral nave. It is there, in the chapel attributed to the Holy Childhood in the time of Mgr Darboy, that the Levites lay the hunt of Blessed Paul Chen; This is where she will be exposed to the veneration of the crowds, there that often, in a pious pilgrimage, love to come to kneel the small associates of the work.

But it was appropriate, after having praised and celebrated the martyr, to celebrate the Eucharist in which he had drawn his strength. A salute of the Blessed Sacrament during which the Schola of Bièvres and the other two seminars heard their most beautiful songs, finished the ceremony.


A chapel, under the invocation of JESUS CHILD, sees, with the permission of Archbishop the Archbishop of Paris and on the proposal of Mr. place Abbé, Archpriest of Notre Dame, to be assigned to the work of Holy Childhood in the Metropolitan Church.

By provoking this precious favour, the General Council thought that it would be glad if the work had a centre where all those who care about the salvation of children who do not know Christ, whatever country they belong to, can thus gather with spirit and heart before the altar of Jesus Child, in the church placed under the invocation of his immaculate mother. – they can more easily, in a common prayer, be of interest to God in favor of their small protégés and to thank him for the blessings which he continues to fill the holy childhood.

At the same time, the Central Council wishes to perpetuate the remembrance of the foundation of the work in 1843, to honour the memory of Monsignor de Forbin-Janson, Bishop of Nancy, who had the first thought, and never to separate from this name forever dear to the holy childhood that of Mr Abbot Jammes, former vicar general and titular canon of the Church of Paris which , after the death of Bishop Forbin-Janson, has spread with so much zeal the work begun by him.

The members of the Council first opened among themselves a subscription for the layout and ornamentation of this chapel, they did not wish to divert either directly or indirectly from their destination any of the sums collected to support the works of the Holy Childhood; But they did not want to deprive the faithful who would contribute to the appropriation of this sanctuary of consolation to take part.


From Annals of the work of the Holy Childhood for the year 1920
The Œuvre of the Holy Childhood

This work, called today Childhood missionarywas born in France on 9 may 1843. Mgr Forbin - Janson (Bishop of Nancy) was the passion for the salvation of the Chinese children doomed to poverty and die without baptism. The dynamics now extends to the whole world.

For more information on the current activity of the Œuvre, click here.



Light a candle to Our Lady