Twenty six martyrs were crucified on a hillside overlooking Nagasaki, Japan in the year 1597. The best known of these was St. Paul Miki, a native Japanese Jesuit.
After St. Francis Xavier arrived in Japan in 1549, his efforts at evangelization were opposed by Japanese political leaders. They feared that this Spanish missionary was preparing the way for Europeans to invade Japan. The Spanish had recently conquered the Philippines. In 1587, the Japanese ruler banned all foreign missionaries from entering Japan.
Paul Miki was born in Japan in1564. His entire family converted to Christianity. They were wealthy and Paul was able to attend a Jesuit seminary in Japan. At the age of twenty-two, he joined the Jesuit order and became the first Japanese Jesuit. He was known for his ability to explain the Christian faith to Buddhists in the area.
In 1596, Paul and some other Catholics, were arrested. The group included Jesuits, Franciscans, and lay people, including children. They were forced to march 500 miles in the cold of winter to the place of execution in Nagasaki. Along the way, people mocked them.
They were all crucified on Feb 5, 1597. St. Paul Miki forgave his persecutors before he died.
Despite the continued persecutions by the Japanese leaders, the Christian faith spread, inspired by the witness of these martyrs. When missionaries were allowed to return to Japan 250 years later, they found a strong Christian community still practicing the faith there.
Patron Saint of...
St. Paul Miki is the patron saint of Japan.
Daily Mass Readings for the Memorial of Saint Paul Miki, Priest and Martyr, and His Companions, Martyrs
The readings below may be used, or the readings of the day. Readings may also be taken from the Common of Martyrs.
- First Reading - Galatians 2:19-20 : "I have been crucified with Christ; yet I live, no longer I, but Christ lives in me; insofar as I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God who has loved me and given himself up for me."
- Responsorial Psalm - Psalm 126: "Those who sow in tears, shall reap rejoicing."
- Gospel - Matthew 28:16-20: "Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you."
Quote and Social Media Graphic
Ask Christ to help you 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 fruitful rain.St. Paul Miki