Saint Paul Miki and Companions, Martyrs

This week’s Saints of the Week are Saint Paul Miki and Companions. Evangelization in 16th century Japan was not for the weak of heart. Christianity was introduced to the Island of Japan by St Francis Xavier in the early 1590’s. Other missionaries soon to followed, converting many including brother Paul Miki, the son of a Japanese Military leader. St. Paul Miki was educated by the Jesuits, became famous for his preaching and brought many to the faith. Just a few years later, the Emperor, who initially tolerated this new religion as a means of establishing better relations with European countries, outlawed Christianity and began a ruthless campaign to root it out of Japan. In 1597, Saint Paul Miki and 25 others including priests, brothers and laymen of all ages and walks of life were rounded up, forced to march over 600 miles and crucified on a hill. The hill is now known as the Holy Mountain.

Brother Paul Miki became the the most famous of the martyr’s for his preaching to those gathered while hanging upon the cross:

“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.”

Following this intense period of persecution, Christianity was believed to have been eradicated in Japan, but when missionaries returned in the mid 19th century, nearly 300 years later, they found a thriving underground community of believers in and around Nagasaki!

Feast day: Thursday, February 6th

Patron Saint of: Japan

Prayer to St. Paul Miki:

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 courage to be loyal until death in professing our faith. Through Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Saint Paul Miki, pray for us!

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