Skip to comments.On Martyr's Hill[Saint Paul Miki and Companions]
Posted on 02/06/2003 5:18:16 PM PST by Lady In Blue
Let us first introduce the main characters in the play. The one to pass sentence on the martyrs is Toyotomi Hideyoshi, better known as Taikosama, absolute ruler of Japan and living at Osaka Castle. On Nishizaka Hill, Terazawa Hazaburo, brother of the governor of Nagasaki, performs the execution. Leading actors in this drama are the 26 men doomed to die, worn out after a grueling thirty day march. And with them, sharing the tension of their last hours, the common folk of Nagasaki Jesuit missionaries and Spanish seamen, traders from Macao, soldiers, executioners.
It is ten o'clock in the morning. The place, the high-way to Tokitsu and Omura, next tn the gate of Nagasaki. All around us the surging crowds, a swelling rumble of distant thunder, tense with uneasiness and expectation.
Mt. Mubonzan or Kompira as it is called today -- towers over Nagasaki City. coming down to meet her in a descending pattern of undulating hills. Nishizaka the lowest hill resembled a galleon's prow jutting into Nagasaki Bay.
The road to Omura cut right through the hill. On that day the traveler from Nagasaki could see a field of wheat on his left. Part of the hill was facing the city and Nagasaki Bay, the other looked out on a murky place, a ravine scattered with human remains, a haunt for wild dogs and birds of prey. Common criminals were executed there.
It was in such a place that the martyrs' crosses had been hoisted but some influential Portuguese prevailed on Terazawa Hazaburo, the Governor's brother not to deal with the martyrs as common criminals and suggested the field of wheat on the other side of the road as a better place for execution. Ierazawa Hazaburo was happy to oblige.
Terazawa was already there waiting for the 26 condemned to die. It was a painful task to perform. One of the martyrs Paul Miki was a close friend of his and he had often listened to his sermons. These men were guilty of no crime. and Terazawa Hazaburo knew it. Therefore much as he was afraid of Taikosama, he was willing to make concessions on minor points. One of them was to allow two Jesuits, Frs. Pasio and Rodriguez, to minister to the martyrs.
It was half past ten when the long procession finally reached Nishizaka. First, an escort of soldiers pushing their way through the waiting crowds After them, the martyrs, divided into three groups each of the headed by Franciscans saying the rosary. They had been walking all the way from Urakami. the old road is still in use at some places. their hands tightly bound, their feet leaving a trail of blood along the road.
Let us have a close look at them. They had their left ears cut off a month ago, just before leaving Kyoto. It has been a long Way of the cross, renewed every morning, in the heart of winter, a month of spiritual growth. All along the way, the wind in the pine-trees has been suggesting the old chant of the psalm: " He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing. lt. is true. They have been sowing the seed of the gospel all the way from Kyoto. Sowing it with their mouths, which could never be chained. with their meekness of heart when blessing their torturers, with their songs of praise to God while struggling forward through the snow. A glance is enough to show that they are neither criminals nor traitors. The are only sowers.
A few witnesses will help us to recreate the scene. FR. Francis Blanco was bleeding from his left ear. Fr. Peter Bautista kept on walking with vigorous steps, eager to reach Golgotha. He did not seem even to notice the wounds in his feet. Br Philip of Jesus looked pale and emaciated.
A few onlookers managed to come near the martyrs and exchange a few words with them. Somebody asked Br. Francis of St. Michael for his rosary as a momento. The good Brother could only apologize : "Sorry, wait a little more. I have not finished yet."
Francis Rodriguez Pinto, a Portuguese born in India, was greeted by Br. Gonzalo Garcia with these words: "My good friend, God be with you. I'm going to heaven. A hearty hug to Fr. Sebastian Gonzalez on my behalf."
The emaciated face of Br. Philip of Jesus broke into a smile. With a touch of humour he tried to comfort one of his friends: "The galleon San Felipe was lost so that Friar Philip may be saved."
The martyrs know that each has his own cross, because they have been made to measure. Fr. Ganzalo, the first to arrive, goes straight to one of the crosses: "Is this mine?" It is not. Taken to another cross, he kneels down and embraces it. The other one after another, start doing the same. "That is quite a sight, the way Br. Philip was embracing his cross..." comments one of the witnesses.
The 26 crosses were already on the ground, a carpet of light green blades of wheat appearing above the surface of the ground. They had been neatly sawn and tailored. Most of them were over two metres high, with two cross-pieces and a prop where the victim would sit astride.
After the arrival of the last martyr, the escort joined the other guards, trying to keep the crowds at a distance. One by one the prisoners were fixed to the poles. No nails were used. Hands and feet and neck were kept in position with iron rings and a rope around the waist kept the victim tightly bound to the cross. For Fr. Peter Bautista, iron rings would not be enough. "Nail them down, brother," he asked the executioner, stretching out his hands.
Fixing Paul Miki to the cross proved to be unexpectedly difficult. The Japanese Jesuit was too short and his feet would not reach the lower rings. Under the pressure of time, the executioner had to do without the rings, and strapped Miki`s chest to the cross with a piece of linen. When he stepped on the martyr to tighten up the knot, a missionary standing in the crowd could not help himself. "Let him do his job, Father - the martyr said assaugingly - it does not really hurt."
Once the martyrs had been tied to the crosses, all twenty-six were lifted simultaneously. A sudden thump dropped them into the waiting holes, sending a shock of pain through the victims bodies.
More to come Read about the words of faith these brave men spoke up to the moment of there death.
God our Father,
source of strength for all your saints,
you led Paul Miki and his companions
through the suffering of the cross
to the joy of eternal life.
May their prayers give us the courage
to be loyal until death in professing our faith.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
BTTT on the Memorial of St. Paul Mike, martyrs and his companions, martyrs on February 6, 2006!
That Holy Card says so much even without the words.
February 6, 2006
St. Paul Miki and Companions
Nagasaki, Japan, is familiar to Americans as the city on which the second atomic bomb was dropped, killing hundreds of thousands. Three and a half centuries before, 26 martyrs of Japan were crucified on a hill, now known as the Holy Mountain, overlooking Nagasaki. Among them were priests, brothers and laymen, Franciscans, Jesuits and members of the Secular Franciscan Order; there were catechists, doctors, simple artisans and servants, old men and innocent childrenall united in a common faith and love for Jesus and his Church.
Brother Paul Miki, a Jesuit and a native of Japan, has become the best known among the martyrs of Japan. While hanging upon a cross Paul Miki preached to the people gathered for the execution: The sentence of judgment says these men came to Japan from the Philippines, but I did not come from any other country. I am a true Japanese. The only reason for my being killed is that I have taught the doctrine of Christ. I certainly did teach the doctrine of Christ. I thank God it is for this reason I die. I believe that I am telling only the truth before I die. I know you believe me and I want to say to you all once again: Ask Christ to help you to become happy. I obey Christ. After Christs example I forgive my persecutors. I do not hate them. I ask God to have pity on all, and I hope my blood will fall on my fellow men as a fruitful rain.
When missionaries returned to Japan in the 1860s, at first they found no trace of Christianity. But after establishing themselves they found that thousands of Christians lived around Nagasaki and that they had secretly preserved the faith. Beatified in 1627, the martyrs of Japan were finally canonized in 1862.
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Our daughter and I went to Japan this past summer. There was a gorgeous mosaic mural on the wall of the Fransciscan Center Chapel that was created from pottery from each of the villages along the way of the march of the martyrs, though I can't remember now if it was they march of Paul Miki and his companions or the Martyrs of Tokyo.
And so..in the feast of the martyrs,all should be reminded-the seriousness the Catholic faith and the Faith unto death that they had..
Pray for the CONVERSION of sinners!
That sounds so beautiful. (And to me) a little on the emotional side -- just thinking about all the villages they must have walked through -- whether it was these martyrs or the ones from Tokyo that you mentioned. Do you have a pictures?
The Mass at the Franciscan Center was in English. It seems to be a gathering place for Westerners who are living in Tokyo. The chapel also has a gorgeous statue of Mary, who has Japanese features.
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