Saint Jean Gabriel Perboyre, also known as Saint John Gabriel Perboyre, was a French missionary who devoted his life to serving the poor in China during the 19th century. He is known as the patron saint of China and is celebrated for his unwavering faith, selflessness, and compassion towards others.
Jean Gabriel Perboyre was born on January 6th, 1802, in Le Puech, France. He was raised in a devout Catholic family and felt a calling to the priesthood at a young age. At age 16, he entered the Congregation of the Mission, also known as the Vincentians, and was ordained a priest in 1825. He taught theology at the seminary before being appointed rector, and later master of novices in Paris, due to the sanctity that his superiors saw in him.
In 1835, Jean Gabriel Perboyre was sent to China as a missionary. He worked very hard to spread the Gospel and help those in need, often traveling long distances on foot to reach remote villages. He became fluent in Chinese and was respected by both Catholics and non-Catholics for his kindness and generosity. However, his mission was cut short when he was arrested by Chinese authorities. He was accused of being a spy and imprisoned for two years. During his imprisonment, he suffered from torture and maltreatment but refused to renounce his faith.
On September 11th, 1839 Jean Gabriel became one of the first victims of the persecutions against Christians, dying in a manner which had a striking resemblance to the passion of our Lord. He was betrayed for a sum of silver, stripped of his garments and dragged from tribunal to tribunal, beaten and tortured until he was sentenced to death with seven criminals. He was crucified and died on a cross. He accepted his fate with courage and dignity, forgiving his executioners and praying for their souls.
Saint Jean Gabriel Perboyre's devotion and sacrifice inspired many, and his cause for canonization was opened in 1883. He was beatified by Pope Leo XIII in 1889 and canonized by Pope John Paul II in 1996. His feast day is celebrated on September 11th.
In addition to being the patron saint of China, Saint Jean Gabriel Perboyre is also the patron saint of prisoners and torture victims.