The 26 Martyrs of Nagasaki

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(Photo of Memorial Of Martyrs Hill, By Alex Tora – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link)

Christianity is universal, or Catholic, in its fullest expression. Jesus Christ came for all people in every time, place, and culture. It’s not imperialism or colonialism to bring the Gospel, the Good News of the Great King, and introduce him to the world. Because he created the world.

Today, I think about 35 the 26 Japanese martyrs, St. Paul Miki and his companions. They, like Christ, were crucified, and for his sake. They proclaimed him to the end, singing Psalms, praying prayers, thanking God, and repeating the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary. This is all while they were all fixed to crosses, on a hill in Nagasaki. St. Paul Miki was given the strength to preach Jesus, acknowledging that he was Japanese and indeed, dying because of his profession in Jesus Christ his King.

St. Paul was a Jesuit seminarian and a native of Japan. His parents were Catholics. St. Francis brought the message of Christianity to Japan and laid the groundwork. While initially received by the shogunate and Japanese Imperial government, Christianity was banned by the late 1500s. Catholics were being persecuted, among them, St. Paul Miki and a group of catechists, priests, and even one as young as 12. Some of these were from the Philippines, Spain, Portugal, and even Mexico. But most were from Japan.

The Emperor, Hideyoshi, ordered for them to have their ears cut off as a sign of disgrace they were marched from Kyoto to Nagasaki, around 480 miles. They embraced their crosses there. Before they were pierced through with spears, St. Paul Miki preached for the last time and forgave his enemies.

There is a memorial and Shrine dedicated to these first martyrs of Japan, there in Nagasaki.

Christianity continued in Japan after persecutions and missionaries were surprised to discover the presence of hidden Christians  (Kakure Krrishitans) who kept the faith alive.

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