Magdalene Yi Jo-i (1808-1840)
When Magdalene Yi Jo-i grew up, she married the younger brother of Francis Kim Seong-seo who lived in Geumsan. She was a widow at nineteen years of age and she did not have any children. Her husband asked her to preserve her chastity before he died.
After her husband died, Magdalene Yi devoted her entire life to the salvation of her soul and to serving her parents-in-law. Magdalene Yi did not lament her destiny. She gave thanks to God for being so fortunate to be in a situation that was helpful to her faith life. Though she was poor, she observed abstinence and tried to help her needy neighbors and instructed the illiterate people, especially.
Magdalene Yi was arrested during the Gihae Persecution of 1839, with other Catholics, who lived in the house of Protase Hong Jae-yeong in Gwangju, Jeolla-do. She was taken to Jeonju and was interrogated. She bravely confessed her faith and did not yield despite all kinds of punishment.
In prison Magdalene Yi, ignoring her suffering, dedicated herself entirely to taking care of the other believers and encouraging them to profess their faith in God to the end, saying: "Above all, let us be honest with God. Let us be faithful to Him and let us all go to Heaven together. No one should be left out."
Taken to the governor, Magdalene Yi was consistent in her conviction while she was being interrogated and tortured. On January 4, 1840 (November 30, 1839 by the Lunar calendar), she was taken to the execution ground with the other Catholics, beheaded and died a martyr. Magdalene Yi was 32 years old. Her written death sentence reads as follows:
"Yi Jo-i adhered to the Catholic faith and believed in the doctrine of heaven and hell. She said it is difficult to give up the exhortation of her husband who died. She even said that she would study the Catholic teaching again if she was able to save her life. She is such a vicious woman. She said her only desire is to die for her religion, thus, we should execute her without delay."