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    Jan Mallet

    Jan Mallet

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    Jan Mallet (1870-1900). A CICM Martyr

    Chang Wen Chao Petrus

    Jan Mallet is born on October 14, 1870, in Hechtel, Belgium. He is the eldest son of Jan Matthieu and Anna Elisabeth Witters. After finishing his elementary schooling, Jan Mallet goes to study at the St. Lambertuscollege in Peer. He studies philosophy at the seminary of St. -Truiden. In one of his letters to his parents, he mentions that his philosophy professor is always speaking about missions. This professor also invites a Scheutist to visit the seminary and to talk about the missions of Scheut. The confrere shares that he has worked seven years in Mongolia and that this country is not a dangerous place. At the end of his letter, he writes that the missionary has made a deep impression on the seminarians. Deeply touched by the words of the Scheutist, he decides to join the Congregation.

    On September 7, 1891, he enters the novitiate in Scheut, Anderlecht, Brussels. The following year, on September 8, 1892, he pronounces his first vows. He is ordained a priest on February 29, 1896, in Scheut. Seven months later, on September 21, he leaves for China. He travels per train from Brussels to Marseille, where he takes the boat for Shanghai.

    He is assigned to Central Mongolia. During the year of his martyrdom, he is administering Kong-kou-ien. A month before his death, he writes his last letter to Adolf Van Hecke, the Superior General[1].  In it, he mentions that the people usually refer to the Boxers as spirit soldiers. He also writes that the Boxers seem to be possessed by demons. When the Boxers enter the village and are near his residence, they start performing certain rituals. As a response, he throws medals of St Benedict at them. The attack is not a great success, and the Boxers have to flee. During the subsequent days, various places are attacked, and the Boxers kill even several innocent pagans. Consequently, many pagans start disliking the Boxers.

    Very soon, the missionary life of Jan will come to an end. The mandarins, who are determined to destroy the Church, realize that as long the missionaries are staying with the Christians, they cannot do much because the Christian villages' defense is usually well organized by the missionaries. And so, they seek to obtain by ruse what violence could not. They send some mandarins of lower rank to the region to, as they claim, reestablish peace by assuring the Boxers and the Christians that both sides aim for nothing but concord and peace. A few days after their visit, the civil administrator of Kuei-hua-ch’eng (Guihuacheng) invites Jan Mallet and his confrere Amand Heirman[2] to come to the city where they will be safe under his protection. Hoping that by going there, they will calm the minds of the Boxers and ward off calamity for the Christians, they accept the invitation. The prefect receives them in a friendly manner. But later, both are beaten to death by the soldiers[3].

    The death of the martyrs did not eradicate the Church. On the contrary. In his Apology, Tertullian writes to the Roman governor of his province, refuting various false charges being made against Christians and the Christian faith, arguing that the followers of Christ were loyal subjects of the empire, and thus, should not be persecuted. At any rate, Tertullian observes, the persecution has failed to destroy Christianity. He writes:

    “Kill us, torture us, condemn us, grind us to dust; your injustice is the proof that we are innocent. Therefore, God suffers (allows) that we thus suffer. When you recently condemned a Christian woman to the leno (pimp, i.e., accused her of being a prostitute) rather than to the leo (lion), you made confession that a taint on our purity is considered among us something more terrible than any punishment and any death. Nor does your cruelty, however exquisite, avail you; it is rather a temptation to us. The oftener we are mown down by you, the more in number we grow; the blood of Christians is seed”.

    (Glenn Penner. Is the Blood of the Martyrs Really the Seed of the Church? https://vomcanada.com/download/seed.pdf.)

     

    André De Bleeker, cicm

    General Archivist


    [1] “Jan Mallet ”in Missions en Chine et au Congo, 1901, p. 1-6, and p. 25-30.

    [2] More about this confrere in the next issue of Chronica.

    [3] See Daniël Verhelst, “Further Developments in China,” in Daniël Verhelst and Nestor Pycke, eds. C.I.C.M.

      Missionaries, Past and Present 1862-1987. History of the Congregation of the Immaculate Heart of Mary

      (Scheut/Missionhurst). Leuven: Leuven University Press, 1995), p. 90; Kamiel Crabbe, “Onze Martelaren,” in

      Missiën van Scheut, no. 6, juni 1950, p. 133.


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