Francis Bae Gwan-gyeom (1740?-1800)
Francis Bae Gwan-gyeom was originally from Jinmok, Dangjin, Chungcheong-do (now, Janghang-ri, Seokmun-myeon, Dangjin-gun, Chungnam). He became a Catholic soon after the Catholic Church was established in Korea. He was also known as ‘Baleun`. His hometown Jinmok was in the Naepo region where Catholicism was first introduced in Chungcheng-do.
Francis Bae was arrested during the Sinhae Persecution in 1791. At that time he failed to keep his faith in God, so he was set free. On returning home, he repented his sin and started anew to serve the Lord more faithfully than ever. He moved to Seosan, but he soon went to Yangje, Myeoncheon (now, Yangyu-ri, Sunseong-myeon, Dangjin-gun, Chungnam) near his hometown. There he formed a Christian community with the other faithful.
Father James Zhou Wen-mo, who came to Korea in 1794, began his pastoral visit to the local Catholic communities on the following year. When Francis Bae heard this news he prepared a place in Yangje village, with other Catholics, that could be used as a lecture hall, in the hope that he could invite a priest by the end of 1798.
At that time, the Jeongsa Persecution was sweeping through Chungcheong-do region. On October 3 of that year, when the Catholics of Yangje village had completed the building, the police broke into the village with a secret agent.
The police immediately arrested Francis Bae and took him to Hongju. The magistrate of Hongju tortured him to force him `to report on the meeting place of the Catholics and to bring the Catholic books`, all of which was in vain. Very angry at Francis Bae, the magistrate reported it to the governor of Gongju and the latter ordered that Francis Bae be transferred to the Cheongju Military Headquarters for interrogation.
In Cheongju Francis Bae met other Catholics, including James Won Si-bo, and they shared their sufferings. His faith in God was as strong and firm as before. His body was completely worn out and his legs and arms were broken. He endured it all with heroic faith. The continuous beatings by the prison guards finally overcame his endurance. He died a martyr on January 7, 1800 (December 13, 1799 by the Lunar calendar). Francis Bae was about 60 years of age at the time of his death.