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Nagasaki Martyrs to Draw Record Crowd - Beatification Set for Next November
Zenit News Agency ^ | December 12, 2007 | Marta Lago

Posted on 12/13/2007 6:36:18 AM PST by NYer

Japanese bishops in Rome for their five-yearly visit to the Pope said they are already preparing for the beatification of 188 martyrs from Nagasaki next year, an event expected to be the largest-ever gathering of Japanese faithful.

Archbishop Joseph Mitsuaki Takami of Nagasaki visited Benedict XVI on Monday and later spoke with L'Osservatore Romano about preparations under way for the Nov. 24, 2008, beatification ceremony.

This June 1, the Pope approved the beatification of Jesuit Father Pietro Kibe Kasui, and 187 of his companions murdered between 1603 and 1639. Of the 188 martyrs, four were religious.

"All the others were laity, and among them many women and children," the archbishop explained. "Among the murdered believers some belonged to the samurai," so "they knew how to handle weapons and could have defended themselves," but "they chose to die for Christ."

Archbishop Takami said the first missionaries arrived to southern Japan in 1549 with St. Francis Xavier. "The beginnings were very encouraging and had many conversions," but "the situation rapidly deteriorated," he added.

"From 1603 until 1639, persecutions increased eventually reaching the expulsion of all missionaries and the assassination of those who professed faith in Christ," the 61-year-old prelate continued. "In addition, the entire archipelago was closed to foreigners with two exceptions: Dutch and Chinese merchants, who were housed in the port regions of Nagasaki under direct control of the central power."

Archbishop Takami said he is praying and hoping that the beatifications will strengthen the faith among Catholics in Japan. "The prevalent culture pushes the new generations toward consumerism and hedonism," he explained. "It is necessary to multiply our efforts to transmit the Gospel teachings."


TOPICS: Catholic; History; Religion & Culture
KEYWORDS: christianity; japan; martyrs; nagasaki; religion

1 posted on 12/13/2007 6:36:21 AM PST by NYer
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To: AmericanInTokyo

Ping


2 posted on 12/13/2007 6:38:47 AM PST by mnehring
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To: Salvation; narses; SMEDLEYBUTLER; redhead; Notwithstanding; nickcarraway; Romulus; ...

A Lesson for the West ... The Twenty-six Martyrs of NAGASAKI

By James Hitchcock

Saint Francis Xavier, a Jesuit and the greatest missionary in the history of the Catholic Church, arrived in Japan in l549, intent on converting it. He had some success in his few years there, and other missionaries took up where he left off. They succeeded in establishing a vibrant if small Catholic community.

For a time the Japanese rulers showed a certain friendliness toward the missionaries, primarily because the rulers valued trade with European merchants. But in l596 certain political changes caused a backlash against the Christians in which Toyotomi Hideyoshi, the actual ruler of Japan (not the emperor), outlawed Christianity and ordered the arrest of recalcitrant believers.

Eventually a total of twenty-six men, nineteen of them Japanese, some priests, others laymen, were arrested and sent on a forced march to the city of Nagasaki. Along the way they were periodically tortured, their treatment designed to intimidate other Christians.

Early in l597 the band of martyrs were crucified on a hill near Nagasaki, tied or chained to crosses, then pierced with lances. All of them, including two boys, remained joyfully faithful to the end. One of them, a Jesuit brother named Paul Miki, never ceased to preach fervently to the crowds, even as he hung on the cross.

As always with martyrs, this persecution had the opposite affect from what its perpetrators intended. It inspired the remaining Christians and attracted new converts, the site of the execution was venerated as a sacred place, and Nagasaki came to be the chief center of Japanese Christianity.

For a time the persecution abated, but in the l620s the government expelled all foreigners from the country except for a small group of Dutch traders. As part of this attempt to expunge all European influence, the practice of Christianity was forbidden, and there were yet more martyrs.

More than two centuries passed, and this inspiring story was forgotten in the West except by a few people. But when Japan once again opened itself to Westerners in the l850s, French priests established a church in Nagasaki.

To their amazement, they were visited one day by a Japanese man who was a Christian and who asked the priests three questions: whether they venerated Mary the Mother of God, whether they were married, and whether they followed the pope in Rome. When the answers proved satisfactory, a whole community of "hidden Christians" began with great joy to practice their faith openly.

The survival of Japanese Catholicism is one of the most moving stories in the entire history of the Church. For over two centuries the people had no priests, but lived the faith as best they could, in secret, not daring to keep written materials but handing down their beliefs by word of mouth.

Recently I had the privilege of visiting the Shrine of the Twenty-Six Martyrs in Nagasaki, crowned by a huge sculpture of the martyrs, all in a row, their hands open in prayer or in blessing. There is a separate statue of Saint Paul Miki that wonderfully captures the power of his faith. I also visited the church where the "hidden Christians" first manifested themselves, a replica of the original, which was destroyed by the American atomic bomb in l945.

Japan today is of course a highly advanced industrial nation with the same kinds of cultural diseases that affect all such countries, not least our own. Catholicism has never claimed more than a tiny fraction of the Japanese people and, as in the West, there has been a diminution of religious practice in the past few decades.

Although Europe was the center of the Catholic faith in the seventeenth century, it was in the missionary countries that the most heroic Catholics of the time were found, the Japanese story paralleled by the equally moving saga of the North American Martyrs a few decades later.

It is hardly fanciful to suspect that our own faith, tepid though it is in many ways, is sustained by the immense graces won by these amazing spiritual forebearers.

Dr. Hitchcock, professor of history at St. Louis University, wrote this syndicated column after his return from a lecture tour of Japan in July (1999). It is reprinted with the author's permission. Read more of Dr. Hitchcock's columns on the Women for Faith & Family website.


3 posted on 12/13/2007 6:39:30 AM PST by NYer ("Where the bishop is present, there is the Catholic Church" - Ignatius of Antioch)
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To: NYer

The article comments on the modern “hedonistic” Japanese culture. Isn’t it funny how modern “hedonistic” consumer societies brutally work their employees for mind numbingly long hours? Meanwhile the committed Christians, not at all hedonistic or epicurian in tradition, by and large go home and have a nice dinner with the family . . . which is a very nice way to live.


4 posted on 12/13/2007 6:42:33 AM PST by Greg F (Duncan Hunter is a good man.)
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To: NYer
They paid with their bodies. They paid with their blood.

By death. By excruciating, slow, terror filled death.

And yet some idiots would claim that Roman Catholicism is not the descendent of Jesus Christ himself, for Whom they all died.

5 posted on 12/13/2007 7:08:27 AM PST by AmericanInTokyo (DUNCAN HUNTER: SOLID! On; Illegals, N. Korea, Iran. Iraq, Economy, WOT, China, Business)
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To: mnehrling

Thank you. A considerate and kind “ping”.


6 posted on 12/13/2007 7:09:52 AM PST by AmericanInTokyo (DUNCAN HUNTER: SOLID! On; Illegals, N. Korea, Iran. Iraq, Economy, WOT, China, Business)
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To: NYer; All
Thanks for posting! It is truly a moving, inspiring and beautiful story. Pertinent to our time. I was so pleased when I heard they were going to be beatified, still am. And it always causes me to wonder, in the grand scheme, why our country chose Nagasaki as a target some 60 years ago, it points to a spiritual battle, always underway.

To their amazement, they were visited one day by a Japanese man who was a Christian and who asked the priests three questions: whether they venerated Mary the Mother of God, whether they were married, and whether they followed the pope in Rome. When the answers proved satisfactory, a whole community of "hidden Christians" began with great joy to practice their faith openly.

I love the 3 questions. The Japanese Catholic community stayed faithful to church teaching, while in hiding, in persecution, for all those decades. Something our churches in the US could take a lesson from (and it seems our Pope is aware of this!).

7 posted on 12/13/2007 7:10:54 AM PST by fortunecookie (Communism/socialism has failed millions, it wasn't right for them - and it isn't right for US.)
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To: Greg F
Meanwhile the committed Christians, not at all hedonistic or epicurian in tradition, by and large go home and have a nice dinner with the family . . . which is a very nice way to live.

Excellent point.

It's rather like the advocates of promiscuity who are always writing about how unsatisfying their relationships are, while the "sex-hating" Christians have a dozen children.

8 posted on 12/13/2007 7:47:16 AM PST by Tax-chick (Every committee wants to take over the world.)
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To: Tax-chick; Greg F

People who aren’t rooted and grounded in Truth have a hard time “staying in the middle” and leading well-balanced lives, I think. They don’t have God as an anchor in the center of things, so they wander off in one direction or another.


9 posted on 12/13/2007 8:14:17 AM PST by Campion
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To: NYer

bump


10 posted on 12/13/2007 8:15:30 AM PST by VOA
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To: NYer

IIRC, one of the sad “collateral damage” events of WWII was the Nagasaki bomb
wiping out the largest contingent of Christians in any Japanese city.

I’ve know at least one Japanese that teaches at a Christian college
(in Japan).
He said his father (a Christian) didn’t “cooperate” with the Japanese government
during WWII, and endured plenty of grief for it but did survive the war.
(My friend didn’t want to go into great detail; I was suprised his
father wasn’t executed or worked-to-death for his resistance to
the Japanese militarists).


11 posted on 12/13/2007 8:19:39 AM PST by VOA
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To: Campion

Martyrs died in Japan to try to bring life. The rationalist/racist asian approach to life led to carnage and very unbalanced lives. It’s hard as a westerner to condemn though because our secular rationalists create the same society here, with only cultural differences, but the same sort of fumbling about for principle and balance.

I talk to prisoners and it’s so hard for the new Christians, the men that found Christ in jail, to picture what that life outside jail will be like. Will it be boring, they ask; you can’t always do things the Christian way can you? That sort of fear. It’s hard to explain to them except personally, what the good life is, what the good life offers. A lot of them feel like they aren’t that sort of person, almost a cultural difference, like we are a different sort of person than they are. It’s amusing to hear from a man in prison that life as a Christian on the outside must be boring. I just feel like saying “Dude, I can at least order a pizza or go to a ball game.”


12 posted on 12/13/2007 8:35:48 AM PST by Greg F (Duncan Hunter is a good man.)
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To: NYer
In the long term, I fear the Japanese more than the Chinese. Christianity seems to be spreading rapidly in China. Confucianism seems to have provided a fertile field for evangelism.

But Japanese society remains mysteriously impervious to Christianity. Its modern consumerist society seems very shallow and cold. Materialism makes Japan a natural target for any materialist ideology, meaning that the society could go in any direction at any time.

13 posted on 12/13/2007 8:46:49 AM PST by Aquinasfan (When you find "Sola Scriptura" in the Bible, let me know)
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To: VOA
IIRC, one of the sad “collateral damage” events of WWII was the Nagasaki bomb wiping out the largest contingent of Christians in any Japanese city.

I had never thought of that before this article. Another element of tragedy in the dropping of the bomb.

14 posted on 12/13/2007 8:48:32 AM PST by Greg F (Duncan Hunter is a good man.)
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Comment #15 Removed by Moderator

To: AmericanInTokyo

I thought the Japanese martyrs were already canonized. Was there an earlier batch? Paul Miki and companions?


16 posted on 12/13/2007 9:43:16 AM PST by Unam Sanctam
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To: AmericanInTokyo

Thank you for your testimony. I look forward to watching the live coverage of this beatification next year, on EWTN. May the sun shine brightly over St. Peter’s on “their” day.


17 posted on 12/13/2007 10:31:37 AM PST by NYer ("Where the bishop is present, there is the Catholic Church" - Ignatius of Antioch)
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To: Unam Sanctam
Paul Miki was the son of a Japanese military leader. He was born at Tounucumada, Japan, was educated at the Jesuit college of Anziquiama, joined the Jesuits in 1580, and became known for his eloquent preaching. He was crucified on February 5 with twenty-five other Catholics, during the persecution of Christians under the Taiko, Toyotomi Hideyoshi. Among the Japanese laymen who suffered the same fate were: Francis, a carpenter who was arrested while watching the executions and then crucified; Gabriel, the nineteen-year-old son of the Franciscans' porter; Leo Kinuya, a twenty-eight-year-old carpenter from Miyako; Diego Kisai (or Kizayemon), temporal coadjutor of the Jesuits; Joachim Sakakibara, cook for the Franciscans at Osaka; Peter Sukejiro, sent by a Jesuit priest to help the prisoners, who was then arrested; Cosmas Takeya from Owari, who had preached in Osaka; and Ventura from Miyako, who had been baptized by the Jesuits, gave up his Catholicism on the death of his father, became a bonze, and was brought back to the Church by the Franciscans. They were all canonized as the Martyrs of Japan in 1862. Their feast day is February 6th.
18 posted on 12/13/2007 12:57:36 PM PST by Tax-chick (Every committee wants to take over the world.)
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To: Campion

Good point.


19 posted on 12/13/2007 12:58:21 PM PST by Tax-chick (Every committee wants to take over the world.)
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To: NYer

Woohoo, praise God! I wish I could go.


20 posted on 12/13/2007 1:02:37 PM PST by AliVeritas (You spineless GOP SOBs, un-ass and get our troops money or shut down the floor.)
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To: NYer

Check out this version...

http://english.pauline.or.jp/history/e-history03.html


21 posted on 12/13/2007 1:19:17 PM PST by AliVeritas (The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church. Stay strong white/dry martyrs.)
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To: NYer

22 posted on 12/13/2007 1:20:07 PM PST by AliVeritas (The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church. Stay strong white/dry martyrs.)
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To: fortunecookie

Great points


23 posted on 12/13/2007 2:29:02 PM PST by Nihil Obstat
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To: Greg F
"Isn’t it funny how modern “hedonistic” consumer societies brutally work their employees for mind numbingly long hours? Meanwhile the committed Christians, not at all hedonistic or epicurian in tradition, by and large go home and have a nice dinner with the family . . . which is a very nice way to live."

DO YOU REALIZE just now what you were able to encapsulate such deep terms of TRUTH into such a succinct, short sentence?! I and others could write a book on this theory and problem here in Japan. I would very much be interested in hearing you expand on it, either here, if appropriate, or FreepMail, GF.

24 posted on 12/13/2007 11:25:03 PM PST by AmericanInTokyo (DUNCAN HUNTER: SOLID! On; Illegals, N. Korea, Iran. Iraq, Economy, WOT, China, Business)
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To: Nihil Obstat
Can you imagine the horrendous site of a little boy, maybe 7 or eight years, affixed to a cross, struggling to live, in abject pain, on his own little cross smaller than for the adults next to him??

Wow. I am humbled.

25 posted on 12/13/2007 11:26:26 PM PST by AmericanInTokyo (DUNCAN HUNTER: SOLID! On; Illegals, N. Korea, Iran. Iraq, Economy, WOT, China, Business)
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To: Campion

I have seen it with my own eyes.


26 posted on 12/13/2007 11:27:19 PM PST by AmericanInTokyo (DUNCAN HUNTER: SOLID! On; Illegals, N. Korea, Iran. Iraq, Economy, WOT, China, Business)
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To: Tax-chick
And YOU, t-c, make an excellent point.
27 posted on 12/13/2007 11:27:45 PM PST by AmericanInTokyo (DUNCAN HUNTER: SOLID! On; Illegals, N. Korea, Iran. Iraq, Economy, WOT, China, Business)
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To: Aquinasfan

With only 2% “market share” after 620 years of business development with the product line, would tend to show them as somewhat finickky and close-minded customers. Yes.


28 posted on 12/13/2007 11:29:47 PM PST by AmericanInTokyo (DUNCAN HUNTER: SOLID! On; Illegals, N. Korea, Iran. Iraq, Economy, WOT, China, Business)
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To: sandyeggo
To answer your linguistic question....

"主イエスクリスト、万歳!"

("Shu Iesu Kurisuto, Banzai!")

It sounds a bit awkward, but it would work.

29 posted on 12/13/2007 11:31:47 PM PST by AmericanInTokyo (DUNCAN HUNTER: SOLID! On; Illegals, N. Korea, Iran. Iraq, Economy, WOT, China, Business)
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To: AmericanInTokyo; Greg F

Thank you. Your experiences in Japan must be fascinating.

I agree with you, Greg F. has been hitting them out of the park on several threads in the last couple of days - very thought-provoking posts. I hadn’t thought of my typical suburban life as “hedonistic,” but it’s true we’re very happy, and we have everything anyone could reasonably desire. (Except a new washing machine, and I’m getting that at the after-Christmas sales.)

My husband has a good job that pays the bills, and there’s enough time for both of us to be Scout leaders and competitive runners, and have lots of time with our children.


30 posted on 12/14/2007 3:30:22 AM PST by Tax-chick (Every committee wants to take over the world.)
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To: AmericanInTokyo
I don’t really know if I can expand much more on the thought other than to say that my experience as a Christian has been that I have aligned myself with God (the deepest truth) when I live as he wills and I separate myself from God when I live as if there is no reality apart from my material understanding, my material desires, and the understanding and desires of the worldly around me. Christianity is a mountain, not at all symmetrical except from a distance, with strange cliffs and unexpected peaks, yet when I live with the faith that those cliffs and peaks are real I find that they are perfectly formed for the life of a man, and when I ignore them I find myself falling or walking up an unnecessarily steep grade.

“The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God.’” Psalm 14.

31 posted on 12/14/2007 6:05:21 AM PST by Greg F (Duncan Hunter is a good man.)
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To: Greg F; Tax-chick

Thank you for your compliment. Ping to the post above.


32 posted on 12/14/2007 6:08:34 AM PST by Greg F (Duncan Hunter is a good man.)
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Comment #33 Removed by Moderator

To: fortunecookie

“Kakure Kirishitans” or the “Hidden Christians” survived without priests for over 200 hundred years, seven generations, and passed on “orashayo”.

They celebrated Chistmas Eve with rice and sake for the Eucharist, they venerated Mary, the Mother of God, and baptised their children. All under threat of death.

A truly amazing story.


34 posted on 12/14/2007 8:33:59 AM PST by reagandemocrat
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To: Greg F; VOA
The selection of Nagasaki as the second target for the atom bomb is an odd one. The geography of the place does not lend itself to be a good target (most of the blast was reflected upward by the mountains and not outward like Hiroshima). But it was intentionally spared conventional bombardment for that reason.

There are a lot of theories, but few good answers.

35 posted on 12/14/2007 2:01:31 PM PST by redgolum ("God is dead" -- Nietzsche. "Nietzsche is dead" -- God.)
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To: redgolum

Nagasaki was the secondary target on 09AUG45; Kokura was the primary. It was clouded out, and they went to Nagasaki because fuel was running low.


36 posted on 12/14/2007 2:12:34 PM PST by ArrogantBustard (Western Civilisation is aborting, buggering, and contracepting itself out of existence.)
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To: redgolum
There are a lot of theories, but few good answers.

For all of our home-grown atheists/agnostics and world-wide Islamicists
that gripe-and-moan that the USA is always really engaged in
some sort of "crusade" run by a bunch of fundamentalist and/or
evangelical Christian extremists...
I would point them to the dropping of the second atomic bomb.

AFAIK, the American military crossed off Kobe, because it is/was
the cultural/spiritual capital of Japan, then after working their
way down the list of some alternative targets (some obscured by
weather on the bombing day?)...
the USA smoked the city in Japan with the most significant Christian
population.

I'm not bashing the US military or drinking the Smithsonian
Atomic Bomb Revisionism Tea...but the atomic bombing of Nagasaki just
showed that in time of war, the USA is an equal-opportunity force
that will smoke any opposing force if necessary and practible.
Regardless of race, color, creed or sexual orientation.

(OK, I included "sexual orientation" to jest about today's
"zero tolerance for offense" environment")
37 posted on 12/14/2007 2:28:28 PM PST by VOA
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To: VOA
AFAIK, the American military crossed off Kobe, because it is/was the cultural/spiritual capital of Japan...

You mean Kyoto, right??
38 posted on 12/22/2007 12:16:18 AM PST by Zetman
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To: Zetman

“You mean Kyoto, right??”

Drat, I goofed.
Thanks for catching it, maybe I won’t embarass myself again on that point.
Lord knows I’m mess up plenty of other things!

And here are the goods on my mis-recollection (even if it’s a Wiki source)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atomic_bombings_of_Hiroshima_and_Nagasaki

Secretary of War Henry L. Stimson struck Kyoto from the list because
of its cultural significance, over the objections of General Leslie
Groves, head of the Manhattan Project. According to Professor Edwin
O. Reischauer, Stimson “had known and admired Kyoto ever since his
honeymoon there several decades earlier.”


39 posted on 12/22/2007 3:23:05 PM PST by VOA
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