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Saint Laurent-Marie-Joseph Imbert
Born 23 March 1796(1796-03-23), Marignane, France
Died 21 September 1839 (aged 43), Saenamteo, Korea
Venerated in Roman Catholicism
Beatified 1925
Canonized 6 May 1984, Seoul, South Korea by Pope John Paul II
Major shrine Saenamteo Memorial Church, Seoul, South Korea
Feast 20 September
Korean name
Hangul 범세형
Hanja 范世亨
Revised Romanization Beom Se-hyeong
McCune–Reischauer Pŏm Sehyŏng

Saint Laurent-Marie-Joseph Imbert was born to a poor farming family on 23 March 1796 in Marignane, France. He studied at the seminary of the Missions Étrangères de Paris, France in 1818.


Foreign Missionary

Ordained on 18 December 1819, he was sent as a missionary to China in 1820.

Before reaching China, he taught at College General (Major Seminary) in Penang, Malaya from April 1821 to January 1822

In 1821, Bishop Esprit-Marie-Joseph Florens, the Vicar Apostolic of Siam, requested for him to call at Singapore. The bishop had been contemplating on opening a missionary station in Singapore. He was not very certain, though, whether there was any urgency nor was he aware of the circumstances prevailing in the island. Therefore, the young missionary was to go check on the situation. He reached Singapore on 11 December 1821 and spent about a week there. Father Imbert could have been the first priest to celebrate Mass on the island.

In 1822, he sailed for Macau, but unable to go directly there, he spent 2 years in Tonkin, French Indochina.

In China, he spent twelve years in Szechuan province and founded a seminary in Moupin.

Korea and Martyrdom

The relics of Saint Laurent-Marie-Joseph Imbert at the Cathedral of the Good Shepherd, Singapore.

On 26 April 1836, he was appointed Vicar Apostolic of Korea and Titular Bishop of Capsa. On 14 May 1837, he was ordained Titular Bishop of Capsa and crossed secretly from Manchuria to Korea the same year. During this time, Korea was going through a period of Christian persecution.

On 10 August 1839, Bishop Imbert, who was secretly going about his missionary work, was betrayed. Realising that it was only a matter of time before he was arrested and killed, he celebrated Mass and surrendered himself to those who lay in waiting for him. He was taken to Seoul where he was tortured to reveal the whereabouts of foreign missionaries. Believing that his converts would be spared if all foreign missionaries came out from hiding and gave themselves up, he wrote a note to his fellow missionaries, Fathers Pierre-Philibert Maubant and Jacques-Honoré Chastan, asking them to surrender to the Korean authorities as well. He had written, "In desperate circumstances, the good shepherd lays down his life for his sheep."

They did and the three of them were imprisoned together. They were taken before an interrogator and questioned for three days to reveal the names and whereabouts of their converts. As torture failed to break them down, they were sent to another prison and finally beheaded on 21 September 1839 at Saenamteo, Korea. Their bodies remained exposed for several days but were finally buried on Nogu Mountain.

The three martyrs were one of the 79 Korean martyrs beatified in 1925 and were among the one hundred and three martyrs canonised by Pope John Paul II in Seoul on 6 May 1984.

The Feast Day of Saint Laurent-Marie-Joseph Imbert is on 20 September (formerly 10 June).

See also


  • Eugene Wijeysingha (2006), Going Forth... - The Catholic Church in Singapore 1819-2004, Titular Roman Catholic Archbishop of Singapore, ISBN 981-05-5703-5


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