Mark Ji Tianxiang’s early life was like that of many others. Born in 1834, he married young, raised a family, and practiced his Catholic faith. He was a doctor and frequently treated poor patients for free.
Then, when he was in his thirties, Mark Ji fell ill. He medicated himself with opium and soon recovered, but the price for his recovery was a dependency on opioids.
His friends and family were disgusted and disappointed. An addict in the family? It shamed them all.
Mark Ji was distressed. He tried repeatedly to overcome the addiction but was unsuccessful. Again and again he took his struggles to the confessional.
Finally, his confessor, believing he lacked the resolve to conquer his sin—a requirement to receive absolution—told Mark Ji that he could not receive the sacraments until he overcame the addiction.
Thirty years later, Mark was still addicted—and still faithfully attending Mass, despite being unable to receive the sacraments. His constant prayer was that he die a martyr, believing this death to be his only chance of gaining heaven.
In 1900, Mark Ji and a group of fellow Christians were rounded up and imprisoned during the Boxer Rebellion. When they were taken away to be executed, Mark Ji asked that he be killed last, so that no member of his family would die alone.
When his turn came, he died singing the Litany of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Want to learn more about St. Mark Ji? Pray for Us: 75 Saints Who Sinned, Suffered, and Struggled on Their Way to Holiness contains the encouraging, inspiring, and unusual tales of Mark Ji Tianxiang and 74 other unexpected saints. These holy men and women proved that the grace and mercy of God can transform our brokenness into a ladder to great sanctity. Get your copy today at The Catholic Company!