[En Belgique, cette mémoire est reportée au 7 février]
Saint Paul Miki et ses compagnons (*)
Saint Paul Miki et ses compagnons, martyrs
Sur les traces de saint François Xavier, les pères Jésuites et les frères franciscains avaient profondément enraciné le christianisme dans le sol japonais. Ecoles, paroisses, hospices et léproseries témoignaient de la vigueur de cette jeune Eglise. Mais, à cette date, le Japon est en proie à des bouleversements politiques importants. Le shogun Taïcosama cherche à unifier le pays en limitant l'influence des daïmios locaux. Il veut aussi limiter l'influence des étrangers au Japon. Or le christianisme est une importation étrangère : le shogun s'en prend donc aux chrétiens. En 1587, les missionnaires sont expulsés, le christianisme interdit. Celui-ci s'enfouit et devient clandestin. Dix ans plus tard la persécution reprend de plus belle. Le 5 février 1597, vingt-six chrétiens furent arrêtés ; il y avait parmi eux des missionnaires européens, jésuites et franciscains, mais aussi des religieux japonais, tel Paul Miki, premier jésuite japonais et prédicateur passionné et dix-sept laïcs : des catéchistes, des interprètes, deux médecins, et même des enfants. Tous étaient souriants, plusieurs chantaient. On les promène de ville en ville, pour l'exemple, pour dissuader ceux qui seraient tentés d'embrasser la religion interdite. Torturés, les martyrs continuent à prêcher et à chanter pendant leurs supplices avant de finir crucifiés sur une colline proche de Nagasaki, face à l'Occident, comme pour narguer cet horizon d'où venait le christianisme.
Parmi eux, comment ne pas citer les enfants de chœur Antoine Deynan et Louis Ibachi, ce jeune japonais de douze ans, crucifiés pour avoir courageusement affirmé leur foi et leur amour du Christ.
Les Saints Martyrs du Japon
Lorsque saint François-Xavier parut au Japon, cet empire était plongé tout entier dans le paganisme; quarante ans plus tard, on y comptait plus de deux cent mille chrétiens, généralement animés de toute la ferveur de l'Église primitive. Le démon, jaloux, ne tarda pas à soulever une persécution; elle fut terrible, mais ne servit qu'à faire éclater les merveilles de la foi.
La liste des premiers martyrs du Japon en comprend vingt-six: six Franciscains, trois Jésuites, et dix-sept chrétiens, dont trois jeunes enfants de choeur. Leurs noms sont : Paul Miki – François Fahelente – Pierre Sukégiro – Come Tachégia – Michel Cozaki – Jacques Kisaï – Paul Ibarki – Jean de Goto – Louis – Antoine – Pierre-Baptiste – Martin de l'Ascension – Philippe de Jésus – François Blanco – François de Saint-Michel – Mathias – Léon Carasumaro – Bonaventure – Thomas Cosaki – Joachim Saccakibara – François de Méaco – Jean Kimoia – Gabriel de Dcisco – Paul Suzuki – Thomas Danki – Gonçalo Garcia. Les Actes des martyrs des trois premiers siècles ne sont pas plus admirables que le récit des souffrances de ces héros de la foi.
Un des religieux, près de mourir, disait, en parlant de la magnanimité de ces chrétiens: "J'ai honte de moi-même, en voyant des hommes si récemment entrés dans le sein de l'Église montrer un tel courage en face de la mort."
Un autre, suspendu à une croix, n'osait se servir que des paroles du bon larron: "Seigneur, souvenez-Vous de moi!"
Un pieux Jésuite, crucifié, fit une prédication touchante, du haut de sa glorieuse chaire, aux païens qui l'entouraient: "Arrivé au terme où vous me voyez, dit-il, je ne pense pas qu'aucun de vous me croie capable de trahir la vérité. Eh bien! Je vous le déclare, il n'y a pas d'autre moyen de salut que la religion chrétienne. Je pardonne aux auteurs de ma mort; je les conjure de recevoir le baptême."
Les trois enfants ne furent pas moins admirables. L'un d'eux, nommé Louis, répondit à un païen qui l'engageait à renoncer à sa foi: "C'est vous qui devriez vous faire chrétien, puisqu'il n'y a pas d'autre moyen de salut."
Un autre nommé Antoine, résista aux larmes de ses parents et aux promesses du magistrat: "Je méprise, dit-il, vos promesses et la vie elle-même: je désire d'être attaché à la croix pour l'amour de Jésus crucifié." Du haut de sa croix, il chanta d'une voix angélique le psaume: Laudate, pueri, Dominum, Enfants, louez le Seigneur, et il eut le coeur percé d'une lance au Gloria Patri, qu'il alla chanter dans le Ciel.
Les fidèles recueillirent le sang et les vêtements des martyrs, dont l'attouchement opéra des miracles. Pie IX les a canonisés le 8 juin 1862, dans une solennité sans exemple, au milieu d'un grand concours d'évêques de toutes les parties du monde.
Abbé L. Jaud, Vie des Saints pour tous les jours de l'année, Tours, Mame, 1950
SOURCE : http://magnificat.ca/cal/fr/saints/les_saints_martyrs_du_japon.html
Born wealthy, the son of the military leader Miki Handayu. Paul felt a call to religous life from his youth. Jesuit in 1580, educated at the Jesuit college at Azuchi and Takatsuki. Successful evangelist. When the political climate became hostile to Christianity, he decided to continue his ministry, was soon arrested. On his way to martydom, he and other imprisoned Christians were marched 600 miles so they could be abused by, and be a lesson to, their countrymen; they sang the Te Deum on the way. His last sermon was delivered from the cross. One of the Martyrs of Nagasaki.
- Saints of the Society of Jesus
- Catholic Culture
- Catholic News Agency
- Catholic News Service
- Catholic Online
- Franciscan Media
- Ignatian Spirituality
- Independent Catholic News
- John Paul Meenan
- Regina Magazine
- Saints Stories for All Ages
- Soul Candy
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
- “Saint Paul Miki“. CatholicSaints.Info. 7 February 2020. Web. 6 February 2021. <https://catholicsaints.info/saint-paul-miki/>
- Antony Deynan, born at Nagasaki, was a 13-year-old altar boy and a Franciscan tertiary.
- Bonaventure of Miyako (Meaco), OFM Tert., a Japanese native who became a Franciscan tertiary and catechist. (He may only have been beatified and isn't included in the group of 26 who were canonized).
- Caius Francis, OFM Tert., was a Japanese soldier who had only recently been baptized and received as a Franciscan tertiary. He insisted on being arrested with the friars.
- Cosmas Takeya (Tachegia, Zaquira), OFM Tert., a lay Franciscan from Owari, Japan, who served the Franciscan missionaries as interpreter and preached in Osaka.
- Diego (James) Kisai (Kizayemon), SJ, a Japanese layman who was the temporal coadjutor of the Jesuits and a catechist in Osaka. Like John Gotto, he was admitted to the Society of Jesus while he was imprisoned, just before his death at age 64.
- Francis Blanco, OFM, a native of Monterey, Galicia, Spain. He studied in Salamanca, and was professed as a Franciscan at Vallalpando. He first labored as a missionary at Churubusco, Mexico, and in 1594, he migrated from Manila to Japan.
- Francis of Miyako (of Nagasaki), OFM Tert., was a Japanese physician from Miyako, who later in life was converted to Catholicism by the Franciscan missionaries in Japan and became a tertiary and lay catechist.
- Francis of Saint Michael, OFM, was born at Parilla (near Valladolid), Spain. He joined the Franciscans as a lay brother and was sent from the Philippines to Japan as a missionary. He was arrested in Osaka with his companion Saint Peter Baptist, in 1596, and awaited execution the following year.
- Gabriel de Duisco, OFM Tert., the 19-year-old son of the Franciscans' native porter.
- Gundisalvus (Gonsalo) Garcia, OFM, born at Bassein near Bombay, India, in 1556 of Portuguese parents, although some claim that his parents were Indian converts who took Portuguese names. He first served the Jesuits as a catechist, then opened a flourishing business in Japan, and in 1591 joined the Franciscans as a lay brother in Manila, the Philippines. He returned to Japan as an interpreter to Saint Peter Baptist.
- Joachim Sakakibara (Saccachibara), OFM Tert., the Japanese lay cook (another source says the physician) for the Franciscans at Osaka, who also served as a catechist.
- John Soan de Goto, SJ, a 19-year-old native Japanese who was admitted to the Jesuits in prison shortly before his martyrdom. Prior to that he was a temporal-coadjutor of the Society of Jesus and catechist at Osaka.
- John Kisaka (Kimoia), OFM Tert., a Japanese silk-weaver, born at Miyako. He was baptized and received into the third order shortly before his crucifixion.
- Leo Karasumaru (Carasuma), a native of Korea, was a pagan priest prior to his conversion to Christianity. He was baptized by the Jesuits in Japan in 1589. He became the first Korean Franciscan tertiary and was the chief catechist for the friars. With him was crucified his brother Paul Ibaraki and their 12-year-old nephew Louis Ibaraki.
- Louis Ibaraki (Ibarki) the 12-year-old nephew of Paul Ibaraki and Leo Karasumaru, who served as acolyte for the Franciscans.
- Martin Loynaz (de Aguirre) of the Ascension, OFM, a native of Vergara near Pamplona, Spain. He studied in Alcala and became a Franciscan in 1586. He first worked as a missionary in Mexico, then Manila in the Philippines, and finally in Japan.
- Matthias of Miyako, OFM Tert., a Japanese native, became a Franciscan tertiary.
- Michael Cozaki was a Japanese catechist and hospital nurse to the Franciscan missionaries. He was martyred with his own son, Thomas.
- Paul Ibaraki (Yuanki, Yuaniqui), OFM Tert., was the brother of Leo Karasumaru and a lay tertiary, interpreter, and catechist.
- Paul Miki, SJ (born 1562, died at age 33), son of a Japanese military leader, was born at Tounucumada, Japan, was educated at the Jesuit college at Anziquiama, joined the Jesuits in 1580, and became known for his eloquent preaching. His last sermon was delivered from the cross on which he was martyred.
- Paul Suzuki, OFM Tert. (born 1563), a native of Owari, Japan, was baptized by the Jesuits in 1584, became a Franciscan tertiary, and was an outstanding catechist until he, too, was crucified near Nagasaki.
- Peter Baptist, OFM, (born 1545) was a native of Avila, Spain. He joined the Franciscans in 1567, worked as a missionary in Mexico, was sent to the Philippines in 1583, and on to Japan in 1593, where he served as commissary for the Franciscans. He had the gift of working miracles and is considered the leader of the Franciscan martyrs.
- Peter Sukejiro (Xukexico), OFM Tert., a Japanese Franciscan tertiary who served as a catechist, house servant, and sacristan to the Franciscan missionaries. He was sent by a Jesuit priest to help the prisoners, and was then arrested.
- Philip de las Casas, OFM.
- Thomas Cozaki (Kasaki), a 15-year-old Japanese native, who served as acolyte and was martyred with his father, Michael.
- Thomas Xico (Dauki), OFM Tert., a Japanese Franciscan tertiary, catechist, and interpreter to the missionaries.
- Ventura, a Japanese layman from Miyako, who had been baptized by the Jesuits, gave up his Catholicism on the death of his father, became a bonze, and was brought back to the Church by the Franciscans (Attwater, Benedictines, Delaney, Encyclopedia, Farmer, Husenbeth, Walsh, White).
Brother Paul Miki, a Jesuit and a native of Japan, has become the best known among the martyrs of Japan. Paul was the son of a Japanese military leader. He was born at Tounucumada, Japan, was educated at the Jesuit college of Anziquiama, joined the Jesuits in 1580, and became known for his eloquent preaching.
Sts. Peter Baptist and Twenty-Five Companions
Died at Nagasaki, 5 Feb., 1597. In 1593 while negotiations were pending between the Emperor of Japan and the Governor of the Philippine Islands, the latter sent Peter Baptist and several other Franciscans as his ambassadors to Japan. They were well received by the emperor, and were able to establish convents, schools, and hospitals, and effect many conversions. When on 20 Oct., 1596, a Spanish vessel of war, the "San Felipe", was stranded on the isle of Tosa, it became, according to Japanese custom, the property of the emperor. The captain was foolish enough to extol the power of the king, and said that the missionaries had been sent to prepare for the conquest of the country. The emperor became furious, and on 9 Dex., 1596, ordered the missionaries to be imprisoned. On 5 Feb., 1597, six friars belonging to the First Order St. Francis (Peter Baptist, Martin of the Ascension, Francis Blanco, priests; Philip of Jesus, cleric; Gonsalvo Garzia, Francis of St. Michael, laybrothers), three Japanese Jesuits (Paul Miki, John Goto, James Kisai) and seventeen native Franciscan Tertiaries were crucified. They were beatified 14 Sept., 1627, by Urban VIII, and canonized 8 June, 1862, by Pius IX.
(5 febbraio: A Nagasaki in Giappone, passione dei santi Paolo Miki e venticinque compagni, martiri, la cui memoria si celebra domani).
Il cristianesimo è penetrato in Giappone nel 1549 con Francesco Saverio, che vi è rimasto due anni, aprendo poi la via ad altri missionari, bene accolti dalla gente. Li lascia in pace anche lo Stato, in cui gli imperatori sopravvivono come simboli, mentre chi comanda è sempre lo Shogun, capo militare e politico. Paolo Miki vive anni attivi e fecondi, percorrendo continuamente il Paese. I cristiani diventano decine di migliaia. Nel 1582-84 c’è la prima visita a Roma di una delegazione giapponese, autorizzata dallo Shogun Hideyoshi, e lietamente accolta da papa Gregorio XIII.
Ma proprio Hideyoshi capovolge poi la politica verso i cristiani, facendosi persecutore per un complesso di motivi: il timore che il cristianesimo minacci l’unità nazionale, già indebolita dai feudatari; il comportamento offensivo e minaccioso di marinai cristiani (spagnoli) arrivati in Giappone; e anche i gravi dissidi tra gli stessi missionari dei vari Ordini in terra giapponese, tristi fattori di diffidenza. Un insieme di fatti e di sospetti che porterà a spietati eccidi di cristiani nel secolo successivo. Ma già al tempo di Hideyoshi, ecco una prima persecuzione locale, che coinvolge Paolo Miki. Arrestato nel dicembre 1596 a Osaka, trova in carcere tre gesuiti e sei francescani missionari, con 17 giapponesi terziari di San Francesco. E insieme a tutti loro egli viene crocifisso su un’altura presso Nagasaki. Prima di morire, tiene l’ultima predica, invitando tutti a seguire la fede in Cristo; e dà il suo perdono ai carnefici. Andando al supplizio, ripete le parole di Gesù in croce: "In manus tuas, Domine, commendo spiritum meum". Proprio così le dice: in quel latino che da giovane studiava con tanta fatica. Nel 1862, papa Pio IX lo proclamerà santo.
Nell’anno 1846, a Verona, un seminarista quindicenne legge il racconto di questo supplizio e ne riceve la prima forte spinta alla vita missionaria: è Daniele Comboni, futuro apostolo della “Nigrizia”, alla quale dedicherà vita e morte, tre secoli dopo san Paolo Miki.
Autore: Domenico Agasso