Paul Yi Do-gi (1743-1798)
Paul Yi Do-gi was born in Cheongyang, Chungcheong-do in 1743. He accepted the Catholic faith in his hometown and became a Catholic. He did not know how to read but he understood God`s love and Christian virtues in an authentic way.
Paul Yi used his little fortune in helping to lead non-believers to the Church. When he was threatened because of his faith, he moved from place to place and tried to spread the Gospel constantly. Later on he left Cheongyang with his family and moved to Jeongsan over the mountain, where they set up a kiln and started a pottery business.
The Jeongsa Persecution broke out in 1797 when Paul Yi was 54 years old. One day, a non-believer in the neighborhood came to him, and threatened him saying, "I will report to the police that you are a leader of the Catholics." His wife, who was terrified, asked him to escape, but he said resolutely that he would not go against the Lord`s will, and did not follow his wife`s advice. He also made this decision in order not to give bad example to the neophytes.
On June 8 of that year, when Paul Yi was working at home, the police broke in to arrest him. They found a crucifix and some religious books. They beat him and asked him to tell them the whereabouts of other Christians, but he remained silent.
Transferred to the government office in Jeongsan, Paul Yi was interrogated and tortured many times. Sometimes the police took him to the market place to beat him and humiliate him in front of the crowds, but he never yielded. He also kept explaining bravely the doctrine of the Church to the magistrate who tried to force him to apostatize.
As time passed, Paul Yi suffered from hunger and the freezing cold, but he endured it by thinking of Jesus constantly. One day, he heard an angel saying "The Lord is with you." He felt he was surrounded by heavenly bliss.
In the New Year of 1798 Paul Yi was taken to the magistrate and went through interrogation and torture all over again. One day the magistrate tried to make him betray God by promising him an official position, but Paul Yi replied, "Even though you give me the whole village, I cannot renounce my Lord." Paul Yi, afraid he might become tempted, refused to see his wife and the believers who visited him.
On the morning of June 10, the police came to inform him that it was his execution day. Paul was happy. He was taken to the Jeongsan execution ground and was severely tortured once more. The crowds who came to watch joined the police in jeering him. Paul Yi reconfirmed that he would never betray the Catholic religion. Looking up to the sky he shouted in a loud voice, "Holy Mother Mary, I greet you."
Paul Yi was beaten so much that he fainted a couple of times, and his legs were broken. He was then left abandoned. Two days later the magistrate ordered to check to see if he was dead and said; `If he is not dead, kill him`. The police cruelly crushed his body and he died a martyr.
Paul Yi`s body no longer had a human shape. It was on July 24, 1798 (June 12, by the Lunar calendar). Paul Yi was 55 years old.
His body was buried according to the orders of the magistrate. Seven or eight days later Catholics from Jeongsan came to look for his body. They took it away secretly to their village and buried it.