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On Martyr's Hill[Saint Paul Miki and Companions]
baobab.or ^ | 00/00/00 | Diego Yuki, S.J.

Posted on 02/06/2003 5:18:16 PM PST by Lady In Blue

On Martyrs Hill

Diego R. Yuki S.J.

The 26 Martyrs Museum
7-8 Nishizaki-cho
Nagasaki Japan
0958 22 6000

February 5, 1597

Very few history books will mention this date, although it should appear in all of them. It opens a new chapter in the history of the Japanese Church, a chapter written with blood by the 26 Martyrs on the rock of this hill in Nagasaki. It only took a few hours to write this page. but the message is still alive, after almost four hundred years.

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. 

The Cross Becomes a Pulpit
Conquerors of Death 
The 26 Martyrs Homepage

TOPICS: Catholic; History; Prayer
KEYWORDS: catholiclist
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1 posted on 02/06/2003 5:18:16 PM PST by Lady In Blue
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To: *Catholic_list; father_elijah; nickcarraway; Siobhan; Salvation; NYer; JMJ333; BlackElk
2 posted on 02/06/2003 5:43:30 PM PST by Lady In Blue
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To: Lady In Blue
Interesting. Fr. Yuki is a Jesuit.
3 posted on 02/06/2003 8:20:38 PM PST by nickcarraway
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To: nickcarraway
Yes but what kind of surprised me a little that there were apparently Franciscans in Japan at that time. I always thought it was only the Jesuits who were in the Far-East at that time.
4 posted on 02/06/2003 10:23:52 PM PST by Lady In Blue
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To: Lady In Blue
This is such a touching story. Thanks for posting it.
5 posted on 02/06/2003 10:41:37 PM PST by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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To: Salvation
You're welcome,Salvation. Glad that you came on.
6 posted on 02/07/2003 7:05:39 PM PST by Lady In Blue
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To: Lady In Blue
Traditional Holy Card

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.

7 posted on 02/09/2003 5:36:55 PM PST by JMJ333
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To: JMJ333; Lady In Blue
BTTT of 02-06-04

God bless all these martyrs of Japan.
8 posted on 02/06/2004 6:21:33 AM PST by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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To: Salvation
9 posted on 02/06/2004 6:58:52 AM PST by StAthanasiustheGreat (Vocatus Atque Non Vocatus Deus Aderit)
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To: Lady In Blue

BTTT on the Memorial of St. Paul Mike, martyrs and his companions, martyrs on February 6, 2006!

10 posted on 02/06/2006 9:31:34 AM PST by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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To: JMJ333

That Holy Card says so much even without the words.

11 posted on 02/06/2006 9:33:36 AM PST by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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To: All
American Catholic’s Saint of the Day

February 6, 2006
St. Paul Miki and Companions
(d. 1597)

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 children—all 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 Christ’s 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.


Today a new era has come for the Church in Japan. Although the number of Catholics is not large, the Church is respected and has total religious freedom. The spread of Christianity in the Far East is slow and difficult. Faith such as that of the 26 martyrs is needed today as much as in 1597.


“Since Jesus, the Son of God, showed his love by laying down his life for us, no one has greater love than they who lay down their lives for him and for their sisters and brothers (see 1 John 3:16; John 15:13). Some Christians have been called from the beginning, and will always be called, to give this greatest testimony of love to everyone, especially to persecutors. Martyrdom makes disciples like their master, who willingly accepted death for the salvation of the world, and through it they are made like him by the shedding of blood. Therefore, the Church considers it the highest gift and as the supreme test of love. And while it is given to few, all, however, must be prepared to confess Christ before humanity and to follow him along the way of the cross amid the persecutions which the Church never lacks” (Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, 42, Austin Flannery translation).

12 posted on 02/06/2006 9:47:16 AM PST by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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To: Lady In Blue; nickcarraway; sandyeggo; Siobhan; NYer; american colleen; Pyro7480; livius; ...
Saint of the Day Ping!

Please notify me via FReepmail if you would like to be added to or taken off the Saint of the Day Ping List.

13 posted on 02/06/2006 9:48:27 AM PST by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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To: Lady In Blue

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.

14 posted on 02/06/2006 3:36:40 PM PST by SuziQ
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To: Salvation
"The Son of God Goes Forth to War"
by Reginald Heber, 1783-1826)

1. The Son of God goes forth to war
A kingly crown to gain.
His blood-red banner streams afar;
Who follows in His train?
Who best can drink His cup of woe,
Triumphant over pain,
Who patient bears his cross below--
He follows in His train.

2. The martyr first whose eagle eye
Could pierce beyond the grave,
Who saw His Master in the sky
And called on Him to save.
Like Him, with pardon on His tongue,
In midst of mortal pain,
He prayed for them that did the wrong--
Who follows in his train?

3. A glorious band, the chosen few,
On whom the Spirit came,
Twelve valiant saints; their hope they knew
And mocked the cross and flame.
They met the tyrant's brandished steel,
The lion's gory mane;
They bowed their necks the death to feel--
Who follows in their train?

4. A noble army, men and boys,
The matron and the maid,
Around the Savior's throne rejoice,
In robes of light arrayed.
They climbed the steep ascent of heav'n
Thro' peril, toil, and pain.
O God, to us may grace be giv'n
To follow in their train!

Hymn #452
The Lutheran Hymnal
Text: 1 Timothy 6:12
Author: Reginald Heber, 1827
Composer: Henry S. Cutler, 1872
Tune: "All Saints New"
15 posted on 02/06/2006 3:39:33 PM PST by lightman (The Office of the Keys should be exercised as some ministry needs to be exorcised.)
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To: Salvation

And 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!

16 posted on 02/06/2006 4:44:15 PM PST by Rosary (Pray the rosary daily,wear the Brown scapular)
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To: Rosary


17 posted on 02/06/2006 10:50:20 PM PST by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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To: SuziQ

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?

18 posted on 02/06/2006 10:51:58 PM PST by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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To: All
St. Paul Miki was in such intimate communion with Christ that, as he hung on a cross dying, he spoke: "I hope my blood will fall on my fellow man as a fruitful rain."

19 posted on 02/06/2006 10:52:35 PM PST by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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To: Salvation
Yes, I do have pictures of it. I'll need to load them onto my York account. I'll try to do that later this morning. This was along almost an entire wall of the Franciscan Chapel Center in the Rippongi district of Tokyo. The first Sunday we were there, my friend located a Church for us, but Mass was in Japanese. My daughter understood what was being said during the sermon, but I didn't. My friend asked if it was OK that I didn't understand the Japanese during Mass, and I said it was fine, because I knew the parts of the Mass, it didn't matter what language they were using.

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.

20 posted on 02/07/2006 5:31:54 AM PST by SuziQ
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