Barbara Choe Jo-i (1790-1840)
Barbara Choe Jo-i was the daughter of Marcellinus Choe Chang-ju who was martyred in 1801 in Yeoju, Gyeonggi-do. She learned the catechism when she was young and became a Catholic. After her father was martyred, she had a miserable life. Her love and generosity for the Lord and her neighbors were so great that it moved people‘s hearts.
Barbara Choe married the son of Peter Sin Tae-bo, but he died young and she became a widow. She never expressed the burden of being the sole support of her father-in-law. When the Jeonghae Persecution broke out in 1827 she was arrested with her father-in-law, but she was released.
She herself became dependent on her relatives or friends. Despite such a difficult life, she did not forget about her father-in-law in prison and visited him often. She tried to support her father-in-law and other Catholics in prison.
Barbara Choe was arrested during the Gihae Persecution of 1839 with other Catholics, who lived with her in Protase Hong Jae-yeong`s house in Gwangju, Jeolla-do. Barbara Choe was taken to Jeonju where she underwent the first interrogation and torture. She endured it all with courage and a serene heart. She was taken to the governor. She confessed bravely that she was the daughter of Marcellinus Choe who was martyred in 1801, and that Peter Sin, who died a martyr in Jeonju the previous spring, was her father-in-law.
Upon hearing that, the governor said, `You have no choice but to die.` She replied, "I have desired to die for God for a long time, and I am prepared for it."
Barbara Choe was detained in prison until the royal court approved her death sentence. On January 4, 1840 (November 30, 1839 by the Lunar calendar), she was taken to the execution ground with the other faithful. She was beheaded and died a martyr. Barbara Choe was 50 years old.
The written death sentence on Barbara Choe reads as follows:
"Choe Jo-i, and her father as well as her father-in-law are all Catholics and heinous followers. She believed in the Catholic religion from her childhood. She is so deeply imbued with it that she cannot abandon it. She considers the teaching of the Catholic religion as a family matter and the punishment as an everyday occurrence. She is like those sinners who commit sins all the time. Thus, she deserves to be put to death."