Today Christians Celebrate Feast of St. Paul Miki and Companions, Japan Nagasaki Martyrs for Christ

St Paul Miki and CompanionsSaint Paul Miki & Companions –Image Courtesy: Catholic Online

(CNA) In the year 1597 a group of 26 Martyrs in Japan Nagasaka were Martyred for their faith in Jesus Christ–During the 16th Century, Catholic Missionaries had reached Japan by the efforts of a Jesuit Saint Francis Xaiver (1506-1552) missionary outreach continued after his death, subsequently around 200,000 Japanese became Christians.

Brother Paul Miki a Jesuit, native of Japan and son of a military leader, had become best known among the 26 martyrs writes uCatholic for his eloquent teaching.

Religious tensions led to a period of persecution of Christians under the Taiko, Toyotomi  Heidyoshi in 1587 during which many Churches were destroyed and missionaries forced to work in secret.

In 1593, Franciscan missionaries arrived in Japan from the Philippines by order of  Spain’s King Philip II these new arrivals, gave themselves zealously to the work of charity and evangelism but their presence disturbed a delicate situation between the Church and Japanese authorities.

Suspicion against Catholic missionaries grew when a Spanish ship was seized off the Japanese coast found to be carrying munitions–Toyotomi responded by executing Brother Paul Miki and his 25 companions on a hill, now known as the ‘Holy Mountain’ overlooking Nagasaki–the group were comprised of three native Jesuits, six foreign Franciscans, several lay Catholics–including some children, suffering a martyrs death by being slashed and crucified.

While hanging on a cross awaiting death, Brother Paul Miki, ministered to the people gathered there for the executions:

“The sentence of judgment says these men came to Japan from the Philippines but I did not come from any other country, I am a true Japanese. The only reason for my being killed is that I have taught the doctrine of Christ, I certainly did teach the doctrine of Christ. I thank God it is for this reason I die. I believe that I am telling only the truth before I die. I know you believe me and I want to say to you all once again: Ask Christ to help you to become happy, I obey Christ.

After Christ’s example, I forgive my persecutors, I do not hate them. I ask God to have pity on all and I hope my blood will fall on my fellow men as faithful rain.”

When missionaries returned to Japan in the 1860’s they at first found no Christians but after establishing themselves, they discovered that thousands of Christians lived around Nagasaki and they had secretly preserved their faith.

Beatified in 1627 the 26 Martyrs of Japan were Canonized in 1862 by Pope Pius IX

More here from Franciscan Media

Related: Memorial of St. Paul Miki and Companions -USCCB

Twenty Six Martyrs Museum, Japan Nagasaki –26

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