The Christianizing Of Wong





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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