Francis Kim Hui-seong (1765-1816)
Francis Kim Hui-seong, known as ‘Gyeongseo` among Catholics, was born in 1765 in Yeosaul, Yesan (now, Sinjong-ri, Sinam-myeon, Yesan-gun, Chungnam) to a middle class family. Andrew Kim Gwang-ok who was martyred in Yesan in 1801 was his father.
As a boy Francis Kim did traditional studies, but after his father became a Catholic he gave them up and started to learn the Catholic doctrine. He became a very devout Catholic, praying and doing charity for his needy neighbors, and working for the salvation of souls.
When his father died a martyr in 1801, his religious zeal and his will to follow the example of his father`s life became stronger.
Giving away all his fortune, Francis Kim went with his family to Godeunjang, a Christian village located in Ilwol Mountain, Gyeongsang-do. He practiced abstinence and self-denial. He tried to overcome his hastiness and impatience and to control his temperament. He soon became an example of patience and kindness to everyone.
When the Eulhae Persecution broke out in March 1815, the police invaded Godeunjang, accompanied by a betrayer. At that moment Francis Kim was on the mountain with his son Mun-ak. When he heard the police shouting to him to come down, he said to his son; "My son, I have to obey the Lord`s call, but you stay here and take care of the family, especially your grandmother."
He came down from the mountain with a peaceful face and welcomed not only the police, but also the betrayer, with a forgiving heart. He said good-bye to his mother and consoled her with kind words. He asked his wife to take care of the family until the day she would join him in Heaven.
Francis Kim followed the police, smiling, and was taken to Andong where he was interrogated and tortured to renounce his religion, but he never gave in. The chief official of Andong transferred him to Daegu with Andrew Kim Jong-han. They were punished there again. Francis Kim professed his faith in God with such constancy, that the authorities could not understand.
The governor of Daegu, who knew that Francis Kim had strong faith in God and that it was not possible to change his mind, decided to sentence him to death. He had him write the last statement and reported it to the royal court, and imprisoned him with other Catholics. The following is an excerpt from the written sentence:
"Kim Hui-seong hid Catholic books in his house, and memorized vicious things such as the Ten Commandments, with his neighbors."
Francis Kim had to stay in prison with his fellow Catholics for quite a long time, waiting for the king`s order. It was on December 19, 1816 (November 1, by the Lunar calendar) that he was beheaded and died a martyr, with his companions in Daegu. Francis Kim was 51 years old.
His body was buried near the execution ground. On March 2 of the following year, some relatives and believers buried it again in an appropriate place.