Alexius Kim Si-u (1783-1816)
Alexius Kim Si-u, also called ‘Si-hoe` or `Si-u-jae`, was born in 1782 to a noble family in Cheongyang, Chungcheong-do. He was kind and gentle by nature, and was intelligent. He could not marry because the right side of his body was paralyzed. He was also poor because it was difficult for him to work with his physical condition.
Early in his life Alexius Kim accepted the Catholic faith which spread to his hometown at that time. Living a faithful life as a Catholic, he taught the Catholic teaching to his sister. Whenever possible, he would explain the doctrine to fellow Catholics, and tried to preach the Gospel to non-believers. As he was poor, sometimes, he had to live on the charity of fellow Catholics. He often transcribed the religious books with his left hand, and distributed them to the faithful. In this way he was able to earn a bit of money.
Later on Alexius Kim left his hometown to move to a Christian Village in Meorusan in Jinbo (now, Posan-dong, Seokbo-myeon, Yeongyang-gun, Gyeongbuk). One day, during the Eulhae Persecution in early 1815, the police invaded the village and arrested all the Catholics, except Alexius Kim. He surrendered himself voluntarily and followed them. It is said that he asked the police to arrest him also, weeping, because he desired to go with his fellow believers saying, "I am also a Catholic. Why don`t you arrest me? Is it because I am disabled?"
Alexius Kim was taken to andong where he was interrogated and tortured many times, but he endured it with unshakable faith in God. His devout and strong faith was great enough to earn praise from the prison guards. Even while his body was twisted, he tried to preach the main doctrine of Catholicism to his persecutors. This was the way Alexius Kim professed his faith in God. He was transferred to Daegu with his fellow Catholics. He was interrogated again and he explained about the Catholic truths. He said bravely to the governor:
"Our Jesus Christ was crucified and died on the Cross to save all the souls of this world including you. So you too, Mr. Governor, should thank Him, worship and respect Him, and become a Catholic."
The governor ordered that he be tortured more severely and that his jaw be broken so that he would never be able to open his mouth again. Then he wrote the written death sentence, asked him to sign it and imprisoned him once again. The written death sentence reads as follows:
"Kim Si-u made himself a preacher of Catholicism. He always studied and spread Catholic doctrine to people around him, and even memorized, not only the Ten Commandments but also the Seven Victories which only a few people could memorize. He also prayed the Rosary. It is not necessary to explain again that he is obsessed with Catholicism. Concerning the religious books, he only vaguely confessed the places where they were hidden, but he never said to whom he had given the books."
While in prison, Alexius Kim could neither eat nor find food to eat, because he could not make straw string shoes like other prisoners did, to exchange for food. He died of starvation and cruel torture in the Daegu prison. It was before October 21, 1816 by the lunar calendar. Alexius Kim was 33 years old.
For a long time Korean Catholics remembered and talked about his devotion, talent, eloquence, and courage for the sake of God. Any Catholic who heard about him looked on him as a blessing for the Catholic Church in Korea.