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The Christianizing Of Wong


Source: Myths & Legends Of Our New Possessions & Protectorate

In the city of Cebu the Chinese, who made an early settlement,
accepted the prevalent religion in order to keep peace with the
authorities. In fact, it was a choice between going to church and
going back to China. Incidentally to their evangelization a number
of them were cast into prison, their shops and houses were rifled,
and laws were enacted denying rights and privileges to all Mongols
who refused Christian baptism. Among the refractory citizens was a
Chinese trader named Wong. So far as anybody could see, he led as
moral a life as a Chinaman can endure comfortably; he was good to his
family, good to himself, he was sober, he would overreach a Spaniard
when he could, but when he had given his word he kept it; he burned
incense before joss, he read the analects of Kung Foo Too and Mang
Tse, and worshipped his ancestors; he never stole or used any kind of
profanity that moral Spaniards could understand. For all this he was
nagged and worried constantly, and could hardly take a walk without
being pursued by friars who requested alms for their charities in so
pointed a manner that he contributed with celerity, if with an inward
lack of willingness. If he had been an every-day Chinaman he would
have been killed, or prisoned, or exiled, or deported, but he had an
excellent trade, and, in spite of his enforced outlays for masses and
missionaries, was growing richer all the time. The customs officers
thrived on the duties that he paid, and waxed exceeding fat.

One elderly priest in Cebu had a genuine concern for the welfare
of this prosperous but benighted soul. He called at his shop, he
barred his way in the street, he argued, he cited, he appealed,
but to no effect. Wong answered that, although a heathen, he was
doing a better business than any one else; so what was the use of
changing gods? And with a heart-deep sigh he requested the clergyman
to change the subject. Seeing, at last, that all customary methods
of conversion were doomed to failure, the friar betook himself
to the shrine of St. Nicholas, and asked him to do something that
should turn this poor soul to the faith. St. Nicholas praised his
petitioner's zeal, and promised to work a miracle. The friar possessed
his soul in patience, and the conversion came that very week. Wong was
assailed in his office by five robbers, armed with knives and daubed
with blood, to show that they intended neither to give nor ask for
quarter. He had sold many goods that day, and they had come for his
money. Wong reached for the sword that always hung within his grasp,
but to his dismay it was gone. St. Nicholas or the friar had hidden
it. He glanced rapidly about the room, but saw nothing that he could
oppose to the knives of the desperadoes, and even if he had, they were
five to one, so his escape from a cruel death seemed impossible. Just
then the robbers were struck into a stupor, for on the wall behind
the merchant a light was shining, and soft music floated through
the room. The partition opened, and St. Nicholas stepped within the
apartment. Turning to the Chinaman the visitant said, "Believe in the
true faith, Wong, and your life shall be saved. Believe otherwise,
and you shall die." Wong changed his faith in one second, and said
so. The saint waved his hand toward the ruffians and they dropped to
the floor in a faint, whereupon Wong, plucking the knife from the
hand of the nearest, carefully but expeditiously and joyfully cut
the throats of all five, called in his neighbors and persuaded them
to join the church with him. They did this almost immediately, and
the most popular saint among the Chinese of Cebu is still St. Nicholas.

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