Peter Jo Suk (1786-1819)
Peter Jo Suk also called ‘Myeong-su`, was born in Yanggeun, Gyeonggi-do to a noble family and believed in God when he was young. `Suk` was his adult name. During the Shinyu Persecution that broke out in 1801 he took refuge with his parents at his mother`s home in Gangwon-do.
Peter Jo was intelligent and demonstrated outstanding talent when he was growing up. He was good and kind by nature, and very mature for his age. However, under the influence of his surroundings, he gradually neglected his religious life. It was when he married Teresa Kwon at the age of 17 that he found his religious zeal once again.
On the first night of their wedding, his wife Teresa handed him a letter asking him `to live as a celibate couple for God`. He was moved by Teresa`s intention and accepted her proposal. At that very moment his faith in God returned and he became a different person.
Peter Jo and Teresa Kwon lived like brother and sister. As the days passed by their faith grew deeper and stronger. Prayer, proclaiming the Good News of Jesus and offering sacrifices became their everyday way of life. Though they lived in poverty, they gave alms to needy people. They lived in this way for fifteen years. From time to time Peter Jo was tempted to abandon his promise, but with Teresa`s advice he overcame the temptation and renewed his commitment to celibacy.
Peter Jo and his wife Teresa Kwon provided everything St. Paul Jeong Ha-sang needed for his trip to Beijing to invite priests. St. Paul Jeong stayed at Peter Jo`s house to prepare for his trip. At that time Barbara Ko, a widow, lived with them to help their work.
One day, while Paul Jeong was in Beijing, the police learned by chance that Peter Jo was a Catholic. They invaded his house and arrested him. his wife Teresa followed him voluntarily. Peter Jo, Teresa Kwon and Barbara Ko were imprisoned together. It was around late March 1817.
When the interrogation started, the chief official used all means possible to tempt Peter Jo and his wife Teresa to `betray the Catholic religion and report the whereabouts of fellow Catholics`. They did not open their mouths, accepting all punishment with perseverance. The chief official, who interrogated and tortured them many times, on realizing that they would not change their minds, put them in prison again.
They accepted all pains and endured their sufferings for God. They prayed for God`s will to be done. Teresa Kwon encouraged her husband whenever he became weak and discouraged, asking him to be faithful and to die for God together.
The three of them stayed in prison for more than two years. Despite the miserable condition in prison their faith remained unshakable. Finally, God called them to die for Christ. After August 10, 1819 (June 20, by the Lunar calendar) Peter Jo, Teresa Kwon and Barbara Ko were beheaded and died martyrs. Peter Jo was 32 years old. One month later the faithful were allowed to take care of their bodies.