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Saturday, 10 October 2009

26 martyrs museum, Nagasaki

The website for the Twenty-Six Martyrs Museum in Nagasaki exists for two purposes:

1. To propagate the virtues of the Martyrs and their message.
2. To present the history of Christianity in Japan from the arrival of Francis Xavier in Japan to the Meiji Era and to give a Christian vision of the period.

The story of the martyrs and the list of those who gave their lives for the faith is very moving. They were raised on crosses and then put to death by having lances thrust through them. The list of the saints includes ordinary young working men and traders who showed extraordinary courage in witness to the faith.

The picture above is a particular treasure of the museum. It is a Western-Japanese (Namban Art) piece that survived the long period of persecution in Japan. It was probably made in Nagasaki by some of the Christian painters of the famous "Kano" school, between 1600 and 1614. It is a western style portrait of Mary, painted in Japanese paper, with Japanese colors and Japanese drawing techniques. Apparently only a few such pictures remain in the world.

St Paul Miki, when he was on the cross, addressed these words to the crowds who came to see the spectacle of the martyrdoms:
All of you who are here, please, listen to me. I did not come from the Philippines, I am a Japanese by birth, and a brother of the Society of Jesus. I have committed no crime, and the only reason why I am put to death is that I have been teaching the doctrine of Our Lord Jesus Christ. I am very happy to die for such a cause, and see my death as a great blessing from the Lord.

At this critical time, when, you can rest assured that I will not try to deceive you, I want to stress and make it unmistakably clear that man can find no way to salvation other than the Christian way.

The Christian religion tells us to forgive our enemies and those who do harm us, and so I say that I forgive the king and those resposible for my death. I have no hatred for the king; indeed, I wish that he and all the Japanese would become Christians.
After the executions, many from the crowds pressed through the soldiers to obtain relics of blood and cloths from the Holy Martyrs.

St Paul Miki and all the Holy Martyrs of Nagasaki, pray for us.

H/T New Advent; H/T Aliens in This World
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