Tuesday, 6 February 2018

St Paul Miki and companions

We celebrate today the feast of Saint Paul Miki and his companions, martyrs who were killed over 400 years ago. Everybody remembers the nuclear bomb that was dropped on Nagasaki and Hiroshima during World War II. 37,000 people were killed in Nagasaki alone, but three and a half centuries earlier, 26 Catholic martyrs lost their lives to protect their faith, crucified on a hill overlooking the same city. Among them were priests, lay people, catechists, doctors, children, as well as Franciscan and Jesuit priests and brothers. Paul Miki was the son of a Japanese military leader, educated by the Jesuits at Anziquiama in 1580, and was well-known for his eloquence and dynamic preaching. He was crucified on the 5th of February during the persecution of Taiko, Toyotomi Hideyoshi, a Japanese leader. With him were also crucified Francis  and Leo, two carpenters, a Franciscan cook named Joachim and others named Gabriel, Peter, Cosmas and Ventura. When other missionaries returned to Japan in 1860, they at first found no trace of Christianity, but after they settled in Nagasaki, they discovered thousands of people who had kept the faith alive for three hundred years. These Japanese martyrs were beatified in 1627 and canonized in 1862.

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