Posted by: rbbadger | May 27, 2013

Catholic Daegu

Daegu, the largest city in North Gyeongsang Province, is the hometown of many powerful persons in South Korea’s history.  Park Chung-hee, who was president from 1961 until 1979 was from nearby Gumi.  He went to a school for teachers in Daegu and then later entered the Japanese military academy in China.  Other presidents who came from Daegu were Chun Doo-hwan and Roh Tae-woo.  The current president of the Republic of Korea, Park Geun-hye, is also a native of Daegu. 

Daegu is also a very important city in the history of Korean Catholicism.  It is home to one of the three metropolitan provinces in Korea.  I live in the Diocese of Busan.  The Archbishop of Daegu is our metropolitan archbishop.  The other two archdioceses are in Gwangju and Seoul.  A number of the Korean martyrs came from the Daegu area.  Daegu is also home to one of the most splendid cathedral churches in Korea.  A number of the French missionaries were also architects.  Daegu’s Gyesan Cathedral was designed by Father Achille Robert, M.E.P. 

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Across from the Cathedral is First Presbyterian Church.  The design of First Presbyterian is probably not coincedental. 

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Near the cathedral, the Archdiocese has a large campus where you can find all the archdiocesan offices, the archbishop’s residence, the old seminary, and a cemetery where the bishops and some of the priests are buried.  One of the interesting things about the campus is the Lourdes Grotto.  The Vicar Apostolic of Daegu, Bishop Florian-Jean-Baptiste Démange, M.E.P. wanted to erect a Lourdes grotto.  However, after building the cathedral and the seminary, there weren’t the funds to carry it out.  Sometime later, one of the priests became seriously ill.  Bishop Démange promised Our Lady that if she would heal the priest through her intercession, he would build a grotto in her honour.  The priest was healed and the grotto subsequently built.

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