Michael Hồ Đình Hy

Saint Michael Hồ Đình Hy
St Michael HDHy.jpg
Born c. 1808
Died May 22, 1857
Venerated in Roman Catholic Church
Beatified July 5, 1900 by Pope Leo XIII
Canonized June 19, 1988 by Pope John Paul II
Feast May 22
Attributes hanfu
Song official headwear
palm of martyrdom

Michael Hồ Đình Hy (; 1808 – May 22, 1857) was a Vietnamese mandarin official who was martyred for his Roman Catholic belief during the persecutions by Emperor Tự Đức.[1] He was canonized in 1988 along with another 116 Vietnamese Martyrs.[2]


He was born to Christian parents in North Cochin-China, and was by profession a wealthy silk trader. Youngest of the five remaining twelve children, he was married to a Christian from another family and had two sons and three daughters. Like other Christians at the time, they practiced their faith in private. At age 21, he obtained the fifth rank mandarin and appointed Superintendent of the Royal silk mills afterwards. He was one of the few trusted officials who traveled abroad to conduct trades with other countries like Singapore and Malaysia. At the height of Christian persecution, when his eldest son requested to become a priest, he arranged to have him study in Indonesia. After his remaining son died at the age of 12, Michael Hồ Đình Hy declined to have his elder son returned home, according to Confucian traditions, citing he could not protect his own faith. During his years at the king's post, he performed many charitable acts to local unfortunates and helped to transport French and Portuguese missionaries on the waterways through his region under the guise of official business. His quick thinking helped the missionaries to travel through Vietnam discreetly and safely. The memoirs wrote that he personally traded his official robe as payment when the ship that transported the bishop of Society of Foreign Missions of Paris accidentally caused damages to a local merchant ship. He also offered clemency to robbers of the Royal silk mill, when they were captured. He was entrusted to guard missionaries' written records. These activities were illegal, as Christian missionary activity had been banned by the Nguyen Dynasty. He did not practice the faith publicly until late in life, becoming protector of the Christian community, which irked his fellow mandarins.


Unlike other unnamed Vietnamese Martyrs whose lives and deeds were orally recorded, parts of his life could be found in memoirs of Fathers of Foreign Missions (Society of Foreign Missions of Paris), France. A local magistrate, discontented after Michael Hồ Đình Hy had denied him access to the Royal silk mill, petitioned to the king for his arrest based on his Christian activities.[3][4][5]

During his imprisonment and torture, he played a gambit with the local magistrates by signing a confession that he was involved with the French government, who did not favor the Vietnam courts persecuting Christians. The gambit did not work. The bishop of Society of Foreign Missions of Paris secretly requested that he recant his confession because it only resulted in more persecutions and France would not justified her presence in Vietnam based on religious persecutions. He repented and signed a corrected confession, but it never made to the king's court. His last days were spent in repentance and humility.


At the king's decree, Hồ Đình Hy was beheaded after suffering public humiliation, and all of his possessions were confiscated by the local magistrates.[6] Some witnesses accounted that he refused his last meal and chose to die near his birthplace instead of at the execution site. He also chose to wear his official robe instead of prisoner garb on his last day. The memoirs of Fathers of Foreign Missions (Society of Foreign Missions of Paris) mentioned he received last rites discreetly by local priests and was survived by his wife and a married daughter. His remains were buried at the Basilica of Phú Cam and his birthplace. He was the last high-ranked official to be executed under the Nguyễn Dynasty.

During his imprisonment and years after his death, Michael Hồ Đình Hy were criticized for his written confession as means for further Christian persecution. Twenty five years after his death, his eldest son, a retired priest, returned from Indonesia and justified his father's gambit. His written confession named him and his immediate family, along with non-existent people in the surrounding towns as Christians. As a result, his parents, in-laws and other relatives were spared from his fate. Other Christian towns and villages, while were raided, ended up with no further arrests.


He was petitioned to the Vatican for sainthood in 1867 by Father Louis Pallard of the Society of Foreign Missions of Paris. He was beatified in 1900 by Pope Leo XIII in the Fortissimorum Virorum Seriem. Pope John Paul II canonized him in 1988 along with other 116 Vietnamese Martyrs.

To commemorate his beatification in 1900, a historian, Phước Môn Nguyễn Hữu Bài, educated under the Vietnam court, summarized his life as followed:

Traditional characters Modern translations
Tự Đức ngự đề văn khổ khắc,

Đức Lêo châu điểm nét tiêu diêu

Emperor Tự Đức condemned his earthly life,
Pope Leo glorified him in the after life.


  1. ^ Jacob Ramsay Mandarins and Martyrs: The Church and the Nguyen Dynasty in Early Nineteenth-Century Vietnam Stanford University Press, 2008 - 212 pages... 2008 Page 137 "Nevertheless, personal compromise of one's religious beliefs in carrying out official duties must have been relatively widespread, as suggested by the case of Hồ Đình Hy, whose biography was recorded by Fr. Joseph Sohier. The son of ... How Hồ Đình Hy survived so long and rose so high in the court hierarchy raises some tantalizing questions as to the personal compromises he would have had to have made, and the degree of complicity of his colleagues and immediate masters. .... Tried and found guilty by the royal censorate (viện Đô sát) of "secretly following the religion of Gia-Tô," Hy was decapitated the following May.86 According to Sohier, four other mandarins of indeterminate position ...
  2. ^ Alban Butler Butler's Lives of the Saints: February – Paul Burns 1998 Page 27 "... and Jean Hoan (1861); a catechist, Andre Nam-Thung (1855); and a high-ranking official, Michel Ho-Dinh-Hy (1857). "
  3. ^ Đình Đóa Hồ Thánh tử vì đạo Micae Hồ Đình Hy: quan Thái Bộc triều Nguyễn 2010
  4. ^ Phát Huồn Phan Việt-Nam giáo-sử 1962 Volume 1 - Page 422 "Hồ-đình-Hy đi vòng quanh thành-nội 3 ngày, mỗi ngấy một lần lúc đến các chọ' và các nơi công-cộng phãi rao cho đân chủng hiết rằng: Hồ-đình-Hy đã phạm tội theo tẵ-đạo, nỏ là một kẽ ..."
  5. ^ Nguyẽ̂n Văn Kiệm Góp phà̂n tìm hiẻ̂u một só̂ vá̂n đè̂ lịch sử cận đại Việt Nam 2003 Page 227 "Để tỏ rõ sự nghiêm khắc của chính sách cấm đạo Thiên Chúa này, cuối năm 1856, sau vụ tàu Capricieuse đến gây rối ở Cửa Hàn, Tự Đức đã hạ lệnh bắt giam Thái bộc tự khanh (tòng tam phẩm) Hồ Đình Hy, vì ông này theo đạo Thiên Chúa, ."
  6. ^ Annals of the Propagation of the Faith Society for the Propagation of the Faith Volumes 19 à 20 1858- Page 286 "In the beginning of the month of May, the king approved the sentence, and added the following note in reference to Michael: ' Ho-dinh-hy, at one time a simple recorder, has gradually risen to the grade of grand mandarin ; he has dared to... We further ordain that five mandarins and fifteen soldiers lead Ho-dinh-hy three times, on three successive days, round the interior of the town, through the markets and all the squares, and in each place the public crier make the following "

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