St. Paul Miki and Companions, Martyrs
St. Paul Miki (1565?-1597) and his companions were martyred in Japan at the end of the sixteenth century. A native Japanese, Paul entered the Society of Jesus (the Jesuits) as a young man. He worked as a missionary brother, along with St. Leo Karasuma (a Korean layman), and six Franciscan missionaries from Europe, led by St. Peter Baptist of Spain.
Building on the earlier work of St. Francis Xavier (December 3), the missionaries preached the Gospel around the city of Nagasaki, and were initially very successful. However, the captain of a visiting Spanish ship foolishly (and falsely) boasted that the missionaries’ efforts were paving the way for a Spanish and Portuguese invasion of Japan.
The Japanese shogun (warlord) Hideyoshi, already envious of the missionaries’ success, used this as an excuse to begin a severe attack on all foreign influences, including Christianity. Many Christians were martyred, including Paul Miki, John Goto, and James Kisai of Japan; Peter Baptist, Martin de Aguirre, Francis Blanco, and Francis-of-St. Michael of Spain; Philip de las Casas of Mexico; Gonsola Garcia of India, and seventeen Japanese lay people. These were all crucified and pierced with a lance. While hanging on the cross, Paul Miki spoke to the Japanese gathered below: “As I come to this supreme moment of my life, I am sure none of you would suppose I want to deceive you. And so I tell you plainly: There is no way to be saved except the Christian way. My religion teaches me to pardon my enemies and all who have offended me. I do gladly pardon the Emperor and all who have sought my death. I beg them to seek baptism and be Christians themselves.”
~ Via Catholic Exchange.
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. I know you believe me and I want to say to you all once again: 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 a fruitful rain.
– Saint Paul Miki