The Episcopal Conference of Vietnam has just announced the celebration of the 30th year of the canonization of 117 martyrs

“During their ad limina in March 2018, Vietnamese bishops asked The Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura for the permission to hold a Jubilee on the occasion of 30th Year of the canonization of 117 martyrs, and has been approved,” said Archbishop Joseph Nguyễn Chí Linh, archbishop of Hue, and president of the Vietnamese bishops' conference.

He also announced that the Jubilee will start on June 19, 2018 and end on November 24, 2018, the feast of the martyrs of Vietnam.

Pope John Paul II beatified 117 Vietnamese martyrs including 96 Vietnamese, 11 Spanish and 10 French at St. Peter's Square on June 19, 1988.

This was the beatification of the greatest number of martyrs at the time, surpassing the number of 103 Korean martyrs beatified in Korea in 1984. This record was only passed when the Poland Pope, beatified 120 Chinese martyrs in 2000.

The persecution against Christianity broke out almost immediately when the Gospel was proclaimed in Vietnam in the mid-16th century. However, it reached a peak during the ruling of The Nguyễn Dynasty - the last ruling family of Vietnam. Their rule lasted a total of 143 years, beginning in 1802, when Emperor Gia Long ascended the throne after defeating the Tây Sơn dynasty. During that period, more than 300,000 Vietnamese Catholics were killed.

A gradual lessening of persecution happened when the French occupied the whole of the country in 1886. But waves of more terrible persecution came up again in the communist era. So far, the Church in Vietnam has not yet been able to gather the exact number of people killed, and the number of people imprisoned for their beliefs during the communist era which is still ongoing. That's not to mention the large number of Catholics who are discriminated and marginalized by their Christian faith.

The opening ceremonies will take place at three historical sites in three ecclesiastical provinces: Hà Nội, Huế and Sàigòn.

The opening ceremony for the Archdiocese of Hanoi and nine dioceses in the north Vietnam will take place in the Minor Basilica of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception in Sở Kiện, Hà Nam Province. The Basilica was built 135 years ago and was the hometown of two martyrs - Father Peter Truong Van Thi and Brother Peter Truong Van Duong

Our Lady of La Vang Pilgrimage Centre in Quảng Trị Province, where Our Lady appeared to console the faithful who fled to the jungle to avoid waves of persecution 220 years ago, is chosen to host the opening ceremony to the Archdiocese of Huế and the five dioceses in the central of Vietnam.

Down to the South, Catholics in the Sàigòn Archdiocese and 10 dioceses of south Vietnam are invited to come to The Ba Giồng Pilgrimage Centre in Tiền Giang Province for the opening ceremony of the Jubilee. Tiền Giang is the hometown of thousands of martyrs in the 18th and 19th centuries

Archbishop Joseph Nguyễn invites believers to “live the martyr's spirit” in today's environment as a witness to God and the Gospel.

The prelate encouraged them to visit people living in distress, illness, imprisonment, old age, loneliness, disability as part of a pilgrimage to Christ.

He said people should “reduce their spending on unnecessary things to help the poor or religious and social structures and engage in activities for the common good of their community.”