PAUL MIKI AND COMPANIONS, MARTYRS
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.