A Saint of the Day for Feb.06



By Richard Mc Brien

Paul Miki (d. 1597) and his companions were the fi rst martyrs of the Far East. The Japanese ruler Hideyoshi initiated a persecution of Chris tians when he became alarmed by the success of Francis Xavier’s [December 3] mission, which had begun in 1549. To strike terror in the hearts of other Chris tians, the ruler ordered that twentysix be crucified and pierced with lances on a hill outside Nagasaki on February 5, 1597. Those martyred included Paul Miki, a Jesuit priest and popular preacher, two Jesuit lay brothers, and six Franciscans, of whom four were Spanish; the fifth was from Mexico City, namely, Peter Baptist (1545–97), Mexico’s first saint, who is also patron saint of Japan; and the sixth was from Bombay. The other seventeen included sixteen Japanese lay people and one Korean. Among them were catechists, interpreters, a soldier, a physician, and three boys. They were canonized in 1862.

The martyrs’ feast day was included on the revised General Roman Calendar in 1969.

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