St Joseph Zhang Dapeng was born in 1754 AD in Duyun, Guizhou Province, China. He was a clever and inquisitive boy who was much attracted to Taoism in his youth. He then moved to Guiyang in 1794 and entered the silk business.
Through a business contact, Joseph first learned of Christianity. He then converted but was unable to join the Church because he kept a concubine in the custom of the day.
Joseph eventually left her, and in 1800 AD, against strong opposition from his family and business associates, he joined the Church, taking the name Joseph.
But because of trouble at his business over his new-found faith, he had to set out on his own, opening his own store. He then began a ministry of teaching and Preaching and also converted a house into a small school for religion purposes. Joseph became the school principal in the year 1808 AD and worked as a catechist and altar server.
During the anti–Christian persecutions led by the White Lotus Cult, Joseph went briefly into hiding but continued with his catechist work covertly. In 1814 AD he was betrayed by his anti–Christian brother-in-law and was then arrested. He was brought with Saint Peter Wu Gousheng, and the two spent their prison time ministering to other prisoners. Joseph was offered his freedom if he would renounce Christianity. He declined. He was strangled to death on 12 March 1815 AD in Guiyang, Guizhou, China. He was then buried in Xijiaotang, China. The grass from his grave has now become part of local folk remedies.
He was beatified by Pope Pius X in 1909 and canonized by Pope John Paul II in 2000.