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St Augustine : Abilio Gallego O.S.A. martyr in China
Abilio Gallego O.S.A.
martyr in China
Open warfare from 1927 onwards between revolutionary and reactionary forces (Communist and nationalist) in China destroyed some missions and caused others to be evacuated.
A Spanish Augustinian, Abilio Gallego O.S.A. was killed in 1933 hours after he was captured by Communist militia while crossing Lake Dongting near Changde. He was executed by having his throat cut.
On 13th December 2004 the process to have him declared a saint advanced a further step.
All the necessary documentary evidence was formally approved by the Diocese of Palencia, Spain.
On 13th December 2004 the case was formally received and accepted by the Congregation for the Causes of Saints in Rome.
Mission activity was further complicated a decade later with the progressive invasion of Imperial Japanese military forces through much of China.
After the Second World War had ended, the Communist Chinese government outlawed missionary and pastoral work. Church officials were arrested, church schools and other institutions closed, and the people were denied access to religion.
Numerous priests, religious and key Christian lay people were put to slave labour.
By 1947 in the Augustinian diocese at Changde there were 24,332 baptised Catholics and 3,250 catechumens, 20 churches in primary missions and 90 in secondary missions.There were 29 Spanish-born Augustinian priests there, and 25 Chinese-born priests - some Augustinian and some secular.
In 1953 the Communist government expelled foreign missionaries, and the Chinese-born Augustinians were forbidden to minister or to remain living in community. One of these Augustinians, Father Dai, died only as recently as 10th January 2003.
The government of China has mandated that all Catholics belong to the Catholic Patriotic Association, which is controlled by the government. It forbids any connection with the Vatican.
The association had an estimated 3 million members in 1999, while there were an estimated eight to ten million underground Catholics still wishing affiliation with Rome.

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