Aleteia logoAleteia logoAleteia
Sunday 25 February |
Saint of the Day: St. Toribio Romo González
Aleteia logo
Art & Culture
separateurCreated with Sketch.

A 17th-century letter from Japanese Catholics to Pope Paul V


Public Domain

Daniel Esparza - published on 11/22/22

The missive was sent in reply to a letter in which the Pope offered encouragement to Japanese Catholics facing persecution.

A letter of appreciation sent by Japanese Catholics to Pope Paul V during the early Edo Period, almost a century after the Jesuits first arrived to Japan, has just been found in Florence. According to the note published by the Asahi Shimbun, it is the first discovery of its kind.

The missive, the note goes, was sent in reply to a letter from Pope Paul V, whose papacy started in 1605 and ended 1621. In his text, the Pope offered encouragement to Japanese Catholics, who were being persecuted by feudal authorities at the time.

Fr. Shinzo Kawamura, a Jesuit priest and professor of history at Sophia University in Tokyo, discovered the letter based on information provided by Timon Screech, a history professor at the International Research Center for Japanese Studies in Kyoto.

The Asahi Shimbun explains that “similar appreciative notes were delivered between 1620 and 1621 from five areas across Japan […] They are kept at the Vatican Apostolic Library.” What makes this letter unique is that it was found not in the Vatican, but at a Dominican convent’s library that belongs to a church in Florence.

Two copies of the same letter are stored at the Vatican, numbered “second” and “third” (in Latin). The letter found in Florence is numbered “first” instead, which leads Kawamura to think that “the one at Florence is very likely the original letter.”

You can find out more about Kawamura’s research by visiting the Vatican and Japan: the 100 year project website here.

Catholic historyHistoryJapan
Support Aleteia!

Enjoying your time on Aleteia?

Articles like these are sponsored free for every Catholic through the support of generous readers just like you.

Thanks to their partnership in our mission, we reach more than 20 million unique users per month!

Help us continue to bring the Gospel to people everywhere through uplifting and transformative Catholic news, stories, spirituality, and more.

Support Aleteia with a gift today!

Daily prayer
And today we celebrate...

Top 10
See More
Get Aleteia delivered to your inbox. Subscribe here.