Feast of Saint Paul Miki and Companions
(1562 – 1597)
St. Paul Miki and his twenty-five companions, known as the Martyrs of Nagasaki, were crucified for the faith in Nagasaki, Japan, in 1597. A Japanese layman of great nobility and wealth, Paul was converted to Christianity by St. Francis Xavier.
Although the Christian missionaries did not meet with opposition initially, the Japanese rulers eventually launched a brutal campaign to wipe out its progress. The twenty-six men were forced to march 600 miles to meet their death in Nagasaki. The group included Franciscan and Jesuit missionaries and Japanese converts. T hey were repeatedly offered freedom if they would renounce Christianity; they all declined.
When the march ended the martyrs were tied to crosses. They prayed and sang while Paul Miki preached the Gospel in a loud voice. The martyrs were then stabbed to death while they hung on their crosses. T he crowd who witnessed the testimony of Paul Miki and his companions would immortalize his words and use them to further spread Christianity in Japan.
Their collective feast day is February 6th.
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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 thank God it is for this reason that I die. I believe that I am telling the truth before I die. 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.”
Fr. Paul Miki, Last Sermon from the Cross
Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us rid ourselves of every burden and sin that clings to us and persevere in running the race that lies before us while keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus, the leader and perfecter of faith.”
cf. Hebrews 12:1-2
As they shed their blood for their brothers, the martyrs provided the ‘same kind of meal’ as they had received at the Lord’s table. Let us then love one another as Christ also loved us and gave himself up for us.”
St. Augustine of Hippo
Saint Paul Miki and Companions, Martyrs in Faith, pray for us.
Be not afraid! And may the peace of Christ be with you and your loved ones today and always. Holy Family pray for us. Amen.