Paul Miki, Japanese samurai, Christian martyr – The Corkman

February 15, 2007 in Press

Monsignor Denis O’Callaghan describes Paul Miki’s life,<br />
<blockquote>The Shogun in 1597 had decided to suppress the Christian faith as central to his policy of closing off Japan from Western influence. Nagasaki had a vibrant Christian community The crucifixion there of Paul Miki and his companions was expected to terrorise that group of Christians into apostasy. The result was quite different. Paul Miki, a Jesuit priest convert from a family of<br />
Samurai warriors, intoned in Latin the Gloria in excelsis Deo. The hymn was taken up by the others on their crosses. The Christians who had gathered joined in.<br />
The little Christian community subsequently went underground and established itself in total secrecy on an island at Urakami outside the city. They lived by fishing. They preserved the truths of the faith and the traditional forms of prayer form century to century. The structure of their religious practice was built around three roles – the role of Leader Person, the role of Water Person who performed Baptism and the role of Calendar Person who marked Church feast days.<br />
For three hundred years they waited for a priest! Eventually Japan eased its policy of exclusion and allowed in business people from the West.<br />
Permission was granted for a little chapel in the business area of Nagasaki, strictly for foreigners. It was a capital offence for apanese to attend. The word percolated through to the community in Urakami. On market day as the women went<br />
to the city two slipped aside from the group as they passed the chapel. Inside they spoke with the priest. One can imagine his amazement! They checked his credentials with three questions – Did he have an image of Mary, Mother of the Lord Jesus? Did he come from the White Father in Rome? Did he have a wife? Satisfied they rejoined their group on return to Urakami. At some later time the Jesuit priest was secretly brought to meet the community. As the years rolled by in a more liberal Japanese society the story unfolded. </blockquote>