Francis Kim Sa-jip (1744-1802)
Francis Kim Sa-jip, also called ‘Seong-ok`, was born in Bibanggoji, Deoksan, Chungcheong-do (now, Changmal, Hapdeok-ri, Hapdeok-eup, Dangjin-gun, Chungnam) to a common class family. It was while he was studying for the state examination to become a public official, that he came to know about the Catholic religion. After that he gave up the secular studies and devoted himself to studying and practicing the teaching of the Catholic Church. He spent every day praying to God and reading religious books.
The inherent wisdom and talent of Francis Kim as well as his sacrifice and love for the poor and lonely, served as a means for him to proclaim the Gospel. With his outstanding knowledge, he transcribed Catholic books with great zeal to distribute them to the Catholics. Being a dutiful son, he performed the Catholic rites for the dead when his parents died. He also fasted from meat for two years.
When the Shinyu Persecution broke out in 1801, all the books which Francis Kim had distributed to the Catholics were confiscated by the police, one by one. His name was reported to the government office and two apostates were ordered to confirm the fact. Soon after these two people visited Francis Kim`s house, the police broke into his house and arrested him. He was taken to the Deoksan government office where he underwent severe interrogation.
The magistrate tried to tempt him to renounce his religion but it was in vain because he was determined to keep his faith. The magistrate ordered Francis Kim to play the mean role of beating his fellow prisoners, but even then he did not change his mind. In prison he wrote a letter to his children, saying, "Try to live as true Catholics, trusting in the grace of God and Holy Mother Mary. Do not expect to see me again in this world."
In October of the same year, Francis Kim was taken to Haemi and there he was beaten on the buttocks, ninety times. Two months later, he was transferred to the Cheongju Military Headquarters with his entire body covered in wounds. This trip took three days in the harsh winter. The journey to Cheongju was long and painful for Francis Kim. But he did not lose courage and kept a serene composure throughout. Soon after he was transferred to Cheongju, Francis Kim was sentenced to death. He was taken out to the market place (now, Namju-dong, Cheongju-si, Chungbuk) and beaten again on the buttocks eighty times. He died a martyr on the spot. It was on January 25, 1802 (December 22, 1801 by the Lunar calendar). Francis Kim was 58 years old.
According to the witnesses, he wished to persevere in the three virtues of faith, hope and love to the very end of his life. He was a man of great will power.