Posted by: rbbadger | August 16, 2008

The Solemnity of the Assumption

Yesterday, I went down to Myeong-dong Cathedral for the Mass of the Solemnity of the Assumption.  This is one of the Holy Days of Obligation binding on Catholics in the Republic of Korea.  One of the precepts of the Church is to attend Mass on all Sundays and Holy Days of Obligation, so it was time to fulfill my religious duties.

The Cardinal Archbishop of Seoul was there and the place was packed.  The singing was beautiful as always.  The choir sang Palestrina’s Misa Brevis, which they sang to perfection.  The Mass ended with a thunderous rendition of the Aeguka, or the national anthem of the Republic of Korea.

It was indeed good to be there with so many people.  I’ve written before about how much I like Korean Catholicism.  The people are very devout and often quite young.  Religious groups, such as the Legion of Mary which are seen as something that only old women belong to, flourish here.  Myeong-dong Cathedral is a historic site in more ways that one, too.

Some of the early martyrs of the Catholic Church in Korea lived in the Myeong-dong area of Seoul where they gathered for prayer and worship.  A number of them are buried in the crypt underneath the Cathedral including the first bishop of Seoul, St. Laurent Imbert.  Archbishop Roh Ki-nam, the first Korean ever ordained a bishop was ordained there, I believe.  It was also the first brick building and first gothic building in Korea.  Bricklayers and persons to make the bricks had to be brought from China, as the Chinese already had experience in building churches.  During the 1987 Democracy Protests, the Cathedral clergy sheltered some of the protestors from the police forces.  Myeong-dong Cathedral has played an important role in modern Korean history and still has a very prominent role today, owing to its position as the Cathedral Church of the Archbishop of Seoul. 

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