Venerable Cardinal lived heroically virtuous life

Imprisoned for 13 years by Vietnam’s communist leaders and then exiled until he died in 2002, the Venerable Cardinal Francois Xavier Nguyen Van Thuan lived a life of heroic virtue Pope Francis has ruled.

Francis declared Francois Xavier “Venerable” last Thursday.

Francois Xavier’s story of imprisonment, much of which was spent in solitary confinement, has made him an inspirational leader to Vietnamese Catholics.

Appointed coadjutor archbishop of Saigon six days before the city fell to the North Vietnamese army in 1975, Francois Xavier was jailed in a “re-education” camp for 13 years.

He viewed his imprisonment as an opportunity to come closer to God.

In this way Francois Xavier was able to help others, by passing on his sense of hope to them.

Although communicating with others was difficult, he took St Paul’s example and wrote letters to Christian communities.

Despite being in a series of camps where he was expected to be “re-educated”, Francois Xavier  managed to ordain priests and distribute Communion to Catholic prisoners.

He also converted Buddhists and atheists and took the opportunity to evangelise his guards.

He was so good at evangelising them, the prison had to keep changing them.

Among other writings, Francois Xavier wrote the following “10 Rules of Life”:

  • “I will live the present moment to the fullest.”
  • “I will discern between God and God’s works.”
  • “I will hold firmly to one secret: prayer.”
  • “I will see in the holy Eucharist my only power.”
  • “I will have only one wisdom: the science of the cross.”
  • “I will remain faithful to my mission in the Church and for the Church as a witness of Jesus Christ.”
  • “I will seek the peace the world cannot give.”
  • “I will carry out a revolution by renewal in the Holy Spirit.”
  • “I will speak one language and wear one uniform: charity.”
  • “I will have one very special love: the Blessed Virgin Mary.”


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