The Martyrs of Nagasaki (d. 1597)
+ Between 1597 and 1640, a fierce persecution of Christians in Japan claimed the lives of thousands of priests, religious, and lay Christians.
+ On this day, the Church honors twenty-six martyrs who were killed in 1597.
+ After enduring torture and physical mutilation, the martyrs were paraded through a umber of villages before being taken to a hill overlooking the city of Nagasaki, where they were tied to crosses and impaled with lances.
+ This group includes, Japanese, Spanish, Mexican, and Indian religious, and a number of Japanese catechists, as well as three children who had served as altar boys for the missionary-priests.
+ Named for the Japanese Jesuit priest Paul Miki, these “Martyrs of Nagasaki” were canonized in 1861 and are honored as the “protomartyrs” of the Far East and as the patron saints of Japan.
+ Among the martyrs honored today is the Mexican Franciscan friar Saint Philip of Jesus. He is the first Mexican to be honored as a saint and is honored as the patron of Mexico City.
For prayer and reflection
“We are not destined for death but for the fullness of life. This was the message the martyrs proclaimed. Yes, here we see the darkness of death and martyrdom, but also the light of the resurrection, as the blood of the martyrs becomes the seed of the new life that Jesus wishes to bestow on us. Their witness confirms us in faith and helps us to renew our dedication and commitment to that missionary discipleship which strives to create a culture capable of protecting and defending all life through the daily “martyrdom” of silent service towards all, especially those in greatest need.”—Pope Francis reflecting on the Martyrs of Japan
On this day, we also remember Saint Warren of Palestrina. After his ordination to the priesthood, he entered the Augustinian Canons of the Holy Cross Congregation in Mortara. Honored for his wisdom and sanctity, Warren was elected Bishop of Pavia, but escaped consecration by climbing out of a window and hiding until a new candidate could be selected. In 1144, Pope Lucius II named him Cardinal-Bishop of Palestrina. Remembered for his charity to the poor and his concern for his clergy, Saint Warren died on February 6, 1158, and Pope Alexander III added his name to the Roman Martyrology.
O God, strength of all the Saints,
who through the Cross were pleased to call
the Martyrs Saint Paul Miki and companions to life,
grant, we pray, that by their intercession
we may hold with courage even until death
to the faith that we profess.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
God, for ever and ever. Amen.
(from The Roman Missal)
Saint profiles prepared by Brother Silas Henderson, S.D.S.