Anna Yi Si-im (1782-1816)
Anna Yi Si-im was born in Nopeunmoe, Deoksan, Chungcheong-do, (now, Monggok-ri, Godeok-myeon, Yesan-gun, Chungnam) to a noble family. She heard about the Catholic religion when she was an adult. Her family was originally from a renowned official military class. When they accepted the Catholic faith they had to leave their hometown and live in poverty.
John Yi Seong-ji, who was arrested in 1827, during the Jeonghae Persecution and died a martyr eight years later, was her brother. Anna Yi‘s father did not accept the Catholic faith in the beginning. Whenever they had to move due to their religion, he cursed them. By divine mercy, he became a Catholic two years before he died.
Anna Yi was a wise and beautiful looking woman. She practiced her religion with zeal. When she was young she decided to remain a virgin. And for this reason the people in the neighbourhood often gave her family a hard time. In order to alleviate the hardship the family was undergoing, she decided to join a community of Catholic women who were also leading lives of virginity. It was far away from her hometown.
A boatman named Pak, a Catholic, promised to take her to the community, but he changed his mind while he was alone with her. Pak forced her to marry him and she gave birth to their son. Her husband died some years later, and she had to raise the boy on her own.
As a widow, Anna Yi, practiced all the Catholic teaching with great devotion. She moved to the Christian Village in Meorusan (now, Posan-dong, Seokpo-myeon, Yeongyang-gun, Gyeongbuk). It was in this place that she suffered from the Eulhae Persecution that broke out in 1815. Arrested by the police, Anna Yi was taken to Andong where she professed her faith in God, with heroism. She was transferred to Daegu with other Catholics and stayed in prison for many years. One day her son Jong-ak died in her arms. Despite the pain caused by his death and repeated interrogations and torture, she never lost her faith in God.
The death sentence on Anna Yi, pronounced by the governor of Daegu, was held for one and a half years before the king gave his approval to execute her. The governor of Daegu took the Catholics to the execution ground and asked them again to renounce their religion. She responded as follows:
"Jesus and Holy Mother Mary call us to come to Heaven together. How can I betray Him? How can I lose true life and eternal happiness to have this earthly life that passes by and is soon gone?"
Then Anna Yi was beheaded with other Catholics and died a martyr on December 19, 1816 (November 1, by the Lunar calendar). Anna Yi was 34 years old.
Her body was buried near the execution ground. On March 2 of the following year, her relatives and other believers reburied it in an appropriate place.