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June 04, 2007



It is still overwhelmingly nuns and priests - particularly founders of orders. I guess it is to be expected because there has to be some pushing to get this done and religious orders can put somebody on the job full time. Us lay people are busy doing dishes, changing diapers and tires, and making a living.

Wasn't this supposed to change?


Before his return to Japan and martyrdom, Fr. Petoro Kibe Kasui was the first Japanese man to visit the Holy Land. He also visited Rome.

The Bulletin of Portuguese/Japanese Studies includes info on him on page 68 of an article (PDF file):

"Pedro Kasui, a native of Urube (Bungo) was the son of Romao Kibe, an important functionary of Otomo Yoshishige, and Maria Hata. He left for Macao in November 1614 and from there proceeded to India, Persia, and Palestine. He was ordained as a priest in the Eternal City on the 15th November 1620, and shortly thereafter entered the Society of Jesus. He later returned to Macao, arriving in that city in 1625. He worked in Siam in 1627, visited Manila and returned to Japan in 1630. He was martyred in Edo [Tokyo] in 1639."

If somebody reads German, there's a footnote about an article by Hubert Cieslik, SJ, "P. Pedro Kasui (1587-1639), der letzte japanische Jesuit der Tokugawa-Zeit", Monumenta Nipponica, no. 15, 1960, pp. 35-86.

Statue of Fr. Kasui in Japan

A page about him and other Japanese Christians, which notes that his hometown hosts a festival in his honor every year. This page says he was a bishop?


The 188 martyrs will be beatified this autumn in Nagasaki, according to this Japanese bishop (.doc format). It notes the Great Nagasaki Martyrdom, the Great Kyoto Martyrdom, the Great Edo Martyrdom (burned at the stake), the Kyoto people martyred by the Kamo River, and many others.

"Firstly, the places in which they were martyred are to be found all over the country, in Tohoku, Kanto, Kansai, Chugoku, and Kyushu. Secondly, the group includes people from all walks of life: lay Christians, religious, priests, townspeople, farmers, warriors, etc. Thirdly, the martyrs were of all ages, from children to the elderly, of both sexes, and included physically handicapped as well as able-bodied people... among those who gave their lives were twelve small children, including infants...."

Wikipedia has more on Kibe; they spelled his middle name differently. (Pretty significant difference in transliterating Japanese.) Among other things, they note a Fr. Kibe Memorial Park in Kunimi-town.

The novelist Endo has an article up (PDF format) which includes info on Kibe on p. 7.

I haven't found anything in the Japanese newspapers that hasn't expired. Probably there'll be more at beatification time.



Sorry about all this posting...

One of the four priests among the 188 is the Augustinian Fr. Thomas Kintsuba ("Golden Hilt") Jihyoe. He was one of those underground priests who are good at disguises and slipped through Japan for years doing ministry without being caught. The Japanese government usually made do with sending out descriptions of wanted criminals, but they actually drew Japan's first wanted poster to catch him!

He was finally caught by bad luck as just a normal Christian shlub, but revealed his identity (a kindness to the soldiers who caught him, and thus got the reward). He then spent the next few months getting tortured and talked to by an apostate Christian, because the regime was desperate to tell people that this hero had renounced his faith. He was martyred in 1637.

Also, there's apparently a Jacobean English (or rather, Irish) schoolkid drama of some sort called Titus: The Palme of Christian Courage, which is the story of a fictional Japanese Christian. It features an apparition by St. Francis Xavier, who hadn't been dead very long or canonized at that point.

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