Martyrs of Nagasaki

[Martyrs of Nagasaki]Also known as

  • Nagasaki Martyrs
  • Saint Paul Miki and Companions
  • Saint Peter Baptist and Companions

Memorial

Profile

Twenty-six Franciscan and Jesuit missionaries and Japanese converts crucified together by order of Toyotomi Hideyoshi.

Following their arrests, they were taken to the public square of Meako to the city’s principal temple. They each had a piece of their left ear cut off, and then paraded from city to city for weeks with a man shouting their crimes and encouraging their abuse. The priests and brothers were accused of preaching the outlawed faith of Christianity, the lay people of supporting and aiding them. They were each repeatedly offered freedom if they would renounce Christianity. They each declined.

The Martyrs are

Died

  • crucified on 5 February 1597 at Tateyama (Hill of Wheat), Nagasaki, Japan
  • the Japanese style of crucifixion was to put iron clamps around the wrists, ankles and throat, a straddle piece was placed between the legs for weight support, and the person was pierced with a lance up through the left and right ribs toward the opposite shoulder

Beatified

Canonized

Reading

Today, I want to be one of the many Pilgrims who come to the Martyrs’ Hill here in Nagasaki, to the place where Christians Sealed their fidelity to Christ with the sacrifice of their lives. They triumphed over death in one unsurpassable act of praise to the Lord. In prayerful reflection before the Martyrs’ monument, I would like to penetrate the mystery of their lives, to let them speak to me and to the whole Church, and to listen to their message which is still alive after hundreds of years. Like Christ, they were brought close to a place where common criminals were executed. Like Christ, they gave their lives so that we might all believe in the love of the Father, in the saving mission of the Son, in the never-failing guidance of the Holy Spirit. On Nishizaka, on 5 February 1597, twenty-six Martyrs testified to the power of the Cross; they were the first of a rich harvest of Martyrs, for many more would subsequently hallow this ground with their suffering and death.

There is no greater love than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” (John 15:13). “Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone, but if it dies, it bears much fruit” (John 12:24). Christians died in Nagasaki, but the Church in Nagasaki did not die. She had to go underground, and the Christian message was passed from parents to Children until the Church came back into the open. Rooted in this Martyrs’ Hill, the Church in Nagasaki would grow and bloom, to become an example of faith and fidelity for Christians everywhere, an expression of hope founded in the Risen Christ.

Today, I come to this place as a pilgrim to give thanks to God for the lives and the death of the Martyrs of Nagasaki – for the twenty-six and all the others that followed them – including the newly beatified heroes of Christ’s grace. I thank God for the lives of all those, wherever they may be, who suffer for their faith in God, for their allegiance to Christ the Savior, for their fidelity to the Church. Every age – the past, the present and the future – produces, for the edification of all, shining examples of the power that is in Jesus Christ.

Today, I come to the Martyrs’ Hill to bear witness to the primacy of love in the world. In this holy place, people of all walks of life gave proof that love is stronger than death. They embodied the essence of the Christian message, the spirit of the Beatitudes, so that all who look up to them may be inspired to let their lives be shaped by unselfish love of God and love of neighbor.

Today, I, John Paul II, Bishop of Rome and Successor of Peter, come to Nishizaka to pray that this monument may speak to modern man just as the crosses on this hill spoke to those who were eye-witnesses centuries ago. May this monument speak to the world forever about love, about Christ!

- Pope John Paul II: Message at Nagasaki, Nishizaka, Japan – 26 February 1981

MLA Citation

  • “Martyrs of Nagasaki“. Saints.SQPN.com. 28 April 2014. Web. 1 August 2014. <>