The Martyrs of Japan
6 February -- Commemoration
Almost fifty years after Francis
Xavier had arrived in Japan as its first Christian
apostle, the presence of several thousand baptised
Christians in the land became a subject of suspicion to the
ruler Hideyoshi, who soon began a period of persecution.
Twenty-six men and women, Religious and lay, were first
mutilated then crucified near Nagasaki in 1597. After their
martyrdom, their blooded- clothes were kept and held in
reverence by their fellow Christians. The period of
persecution continued for another thirty-five years, many
new witness-martyrs being added to their number.
If celebrated as a Lesser Festival,
Common of Martyrs, page 464