Truong Buu Diep was a Vietnamese Catholic priest who served the people of Bac Lieu Province in the Mekong Delta. He was killed by communist forces on March 12, 1946, at the age of 49, after refusing to abandon his flock. His death sparked a devotion among Catholics and non-Christians alike, who believe that he performed miracles and healed the sick. But what was the cause of his death and how did it affect his family and followers?
A Faithful Servant
Truong Buu Diep was born on January 1, 1897, in An Giang Province, in southern Vietnam.
Truong Buu Diep was known for his kindness, generosity, and passion for his ministry. He helped the poor, the orphans, and the elderly, and defended the rights of his parishioners against land grabbers and oppressors. He was also an avid fan of the game of soccer and often played with the local youth. He was loved and respected by his people, who called him Father Diep.
A Courageous Witness
Truong Buu Diep lived in a turbulent time in Vietnam’s history, when the country was under French colonial rule and faced the rise of communism and nationalism. In 1945, the Viet Minh, a communist-led nationalist movement, declared independence from France and fought against the French and their allies. The Viet Minh also persecuted the Catholic community, accusing them of being collaborators with the colonialists.
In March 1946, the Viet Minh attacked Tac Say parish, where Truong Buu Diep was serving. They captured him and 30 other Catholics and held them in a rice paddy storehouse. They planned to burn them alive, but Truong Buu Diep offered himself to be killed alone, so that the others could be spared. He was taken to a nearby pond, where he was tortured and beheaded by two Japanese soldiers who had defected to the Viet Minh. His naked and mutilated body was thrown into the water.
His body was later recovered and buried by his parishioners, who witnessed his heroic sacrifice. His death inspired many Catholics to remain faithful to their faith and to resist the communist regime. He was also venerated by non-Christians, who admired his virtue and compassion.
A Blessed Legacy
Truong Buu Diep’s death left a lasting impact on his family and followers, who mourned and honored his memory. His mother, who was also a devout Catholic, died shortly after hearing the news of his martyrdom. His father, who was a Buddhist, converted to Catholicism after seeing his son’s example. His brother, who was also a priest, continued his ministry in Cambodia and Vietnam.
Truong Buu Diep’s tomb in Bac Lieu became a pilgrimage destination for many people, who came to pray and ask for his intercession. Many reported that they received miracles and healings after visiting his tomb or invoking his name. Some of the miracles included curing cancer, restoring sight, and healing wounds. His devotees also built altars and chapels in his honor, and celebrated his feast day on March 12.
Truong Buu Diep’s cause of canonization was initiated in 2012, after the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith gave the green light to the process. He was declared a Servant of God, the first step towards sainthood. His supporters hope that he will be recognized as a saint and a patron of Vietnam.
Truong Buu Diep cause of death was a tragic end for a faithful priest, but a glorious beginning for a blessed martyr. He will always be remembered as a son, a brother, a pastor, and a hero of the Vietnamese Catholic Church. Rest in peace, Truong Buu Diep.