Saint Paul Miki
and 25 Companions
Martyr of Japan (1562-1597)
16th century, the Catholic faith reached Japan by the efforts of the Jesuit
missionary Saint Francis Xavier (1506-1552). Jesuit outreach to the
Japanese continued after his death, and around 200,000 Japanese had entered the
Church by 1587.
Paulo Miki was born 1562 at Tsunokuni,
Japan into a wealthy Japanese family. was educated at the Jesuit college of
Anziquiama, joined the Jesuits in 1580,
and became known for his eloquent preaching. He was educated by the Jesuits in
Azuchi and Takatsuki. He joined the Society of Jesus and became a well known and
successful preacher - gaining numerous converts to Catholicism. The local daimyō,
Toyotomi Hideyoshi, began persecuting Catholics for fear of the Jesuit's
influence and intentions, and possibly that of European visitors.
The Japanese leader Toyotomi Hideyoshi was
fearful of the Jesuit’s influence and intentions. He began to persecute
Catholics to curb the growth and success of the Jesuit’s work. Paul Miki was
jailed along with many others. He and his fellow Catholics were forced to march
600 miles from Kyoto to Nagasaki. All the while marching, he and the others sang
the Te Deum, “Thee, O God, We Praise”.
On arriving in Nagasaki, which today has
the largest Catholic population in Japan, Miki was crucified on February 5,
1597. He preached his last sermon from the cross, and it is maintained that he
forgave his executioners, stating that he himself was Japanese. Among the other
Japanese who died were: Francis, a carpenter who was arrested while watching the
executions and then crucified; Gabriel, the 19-year-old son of the Franciscans’
doorkeeper; Leo Kinuya, a 28-year-old carpenter from Miyako; Joachim Sakakibara,
cook for the Franciscans at Osaka; Peter Sukejiro, sent by a Jesuit priest to
help the prisoners and who was himself arrested; Cosmas Takeya from Owari, who
had preached in Osaka; and Ventura from Miyako, who had been baptized by the
Jesuits, gave up his faith on the death of his father, became a bonze, and was
brought back to the Church by the Franciscans.
All of them
were beatified September 14, 1627 by Pope Urban VIIIand canonized June 8, 1862
by Pope Pius IX.
Sain Paul Miki is the Patron saint of Japan.
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