February 6, 2007

Nagasaki Martyrs

Today is the feast of the martyrs of Japan, 26 Christians crucified in Nagasaki in February 1597. Among them were 17 Japanese laymen (including three children), 3 Japanese Jesuits, and 6 European Franciscans.

In the general Roman calendar they are celebrated as "Paul Miki and companions," Paul being one of the Jesuits. He was only one year away from his ordination. In the Franciscan calendar they are celebrated as "Peter Baptist, Paul Miki, and companions." Peter Baptist was a Spanish friar who had worked several years in the Philippines before going to Japan.

Their courage is almost impossible for me to imagine. Having already had an ear cut off and expecting to be crucified the next day or the day after, Peter Baptist wrote to his confreres:
Dearest brothers, help us with your prayers that our death may be acceptable to the majesty of God in heaven where, God willing, we hope to go. We will remember you. We have not forgotten your love here. I have loved you and still love you with all my heart. I wish you the peace and love of our Lord Jesus Christ. Farewell, dearest brothers, because there is no longer any time to speak to you. Till we meet in heaven. Remember me.


Anonymous said...

I too have always been impressed by the courage of the Nagasaki martyrs. It seems that Heaven ordained that Nagasaki would forever have a special role in showing the world the truth about the paschal mystery.

A few years ago we had the pleasure of having an old Maryknoll priest over for dinner who had served in Asia after the war. Although his missions were mainly in China (this was under the regieme of Chaing Kai-Shek), he described for us agetting to meet the Bishop of Nagasaki in the late 1940's.

His Excellency had told him that when the bomb was dropped, he had been in his cathedral, and he spent 3 days trapped under the rubble before he was found and rescued.

--the same anonymous

Charles of New Haven said...

Very interesting, anonymous. You are clearly someone of great catholic erudition and refinement.