Leo Hong In (1758-1802)
Leo Hong In was born to a renowned family in Seoul, but as his father moved to Pocheon, Gyeonggi-do, he grew up there. Francis Xavier Hong Gyo-man who was martyred in Seoul in 1801 was his father.
It was in 1791 that Leo‘s family first came to know about Catholicism through his father who learned the catechism from his cousin Francis Xavier Kwon Il-sin. Leo Hong learned the catechism from his father.
When he became a Catholic, Leo Hong abandoned all earthly ambitions and dreams. He dedicated his life to God and to proclaiming the Catholic faith. He thought that the best way to fulfill the virtue of filial piety was to lead his father to the Church. So Leo Hong made every effort to help his father, who was hesitant, to clarify his doubts about the Catholic doctrine. He finally succeeded in guiding him to faith in God.
In late 1794, when Father James Zhou Wen-mo came to Korea, Leo Hong visited him with his father and received the Sacrament of Baptism, and attended Mass. He kept a good relationship with his uncle Anthony Hong Ik-man and Alexius Hwang Sa-yeong who were devout Catholics, and led a very faithful life. Together with his father he endeavored to spread the Gospel in the Pocheon region.
When the Shinyu Persecution broke out in 1801, Leo Hong, after consulting with his father, hid a box of Catholic books belonging to Augustine Jeong Yak-jong in his house. Both his name and his father`s name were revealed to the police by a Catholic, who was arrested while moving the box of Catholic books to another place.
At that time Leo Hong and his father were hiding some place else. Knowing that they could not stay long in hiding, they returned home and were arrested by the police. His father Francis Xavier Hong was taken to Seoul while Leo Hong was sent to Pocheon.
Leo Hong was interrogated and tortured first in Pocheon, but did not reveal anything about the Church. After that he was transferred to the Police Headquarters by way of the Gyeonggi governor`s office.
His father, Francis Xavier Hong, died a martyr soon after he was taken to Seoul. Following his father`s example, Leo Hong overcame all trials and suffering with faith at the Police Headquarters and the Justice Ministry. He was sentenced to death and transferred to his hometown, Pocheon, to be executed. He was beheaded and died a martyr on January 30, 1802 (December 27, 1801 by the Lunar calendar). Leo Hong was 44 years old.
The following is an excerpt from the written sentence given to Leo Hong by the Justice Ministry:
"You were deeply imbued with Catholicism and practiced it for a long time. Your father taught you the Catholic doctrine, and you learned it from him. You did not change your mind about your beliefs. Therefore you are being transferred to the Police Headquarters from the Geyonggi governor`s office …… You deserve death ten thousand times for the sin you have committed against the national law."