Wen Li

Widowed by the Boxer Rebellion hours after her wedding.

An outstanding young Christian woman, Wen Li had been educated at a missionary school. Before she graduated, she was engaged to a young doctor named Ma, from one of the leading families in Beijing. The wedding day was set for the very time when the Boxers were infesting Beijing. Wen Li’s family, who were not Christians, insisted that the ceremony should continue—including an elaborate ride through the city in a bridal chair. Her Christian friends, however, said that the procession was unwise, as the streets were already filled with chaos.

Just after the wedding, which had been low-key so as to not attract attention, Ma received an eviction notice from his landlord, who was fearful that if he continued to accommodate Christians his house might be burned by the Boxers. The newlyweds moved into a spare room on the mission compound, but that very same night the Boxers set the buildings alight. Some Christians hid in a corner of the compound among some trees and shrubs, but the light from the blaze revealed their presence and they were chased by the Boxers and cut down with axes and knives. Wen Li, along with her sister-in-law, hid in a ruined temple, which was partly on fire. The next morning her sister-in-law was discovered and put to death, but she escaped. The same day, Dr. Ma was captured and cut in half. Wen Li was now a widow, just hours after her wedding. She had ‘two severe wounds on her neck from [a] Boxer knife, and in pair and terror made her way to her mother, but her mother could not keep her.’

Wen Li slowly recovered from her wounds and later married a young man whose fiancee had been killed by the Boxers.

So then, those who suffer according to God’s will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good. 1 Peter 4:19


China’s Book of Martyrs. Carlisle: Piquant Editions, 2007. Used by permission.

About the Author

Paul Hattaway

Paul Hattaway is the international director of Asia Harvest, an organization committed to serving the church throughout Asia. He is an expert on the Chinese church and author of the The Heavenly Man and Back to Jerusalem.