The Christian samurai thread
Catholic Encyclopedia Wrote:Japanese Martyrs

There is not in the whole history of the Church a single people who can offer to the admiration of the Christian world annals as glorious, and a martyrology as lengthy, as those of the people of Japan. In January, 1552, St. Francis Xavier had remarked the proselytizing spirit of the early neophytes. "I saw them", he wrote, "rejoicing in our successes, manifesting an ardent zeal to spread the faith and to win over to baptism the pagans they conquered." He foresaw the obstacles that would block the progress of the faith in certain provinces, the absolutism of this or that daimyo, a class at that time very independent of the Mikado and in revolt against his supreme authority. As a matter of fact, in the province of Hirado, where he made a hundred converts, and where six years after him, 600 pagans were baptized in three days, a Christian woman (the proto-martyr) was beheaded for praying before a cross. In 1561 the daimyo forced the Christians to abjure their faith, "but they preferred to abandon all their possessions and live in the Bungo, poor with Christ, rather than rich without Him", wrote a missionary, 11 October, 1562. When, under the Shogunate of Yoshiaki, Ota Nobunaga, supported by Wada Koresama, a Christian, had subdued the greater part of the provinces and had restored monarchical unity, there came to pass what St. Francis Xavier had hoped for. At Miyako (the modern Kiyoto) the faith was recognized and a church built 15 Aug., 1576. Then the faith continued to spread without notable opposition, as the daimyos followed the lead of the Mikado (Ogimachi, 1558-1586) and Ota Nobunaga. The toleration or favor of the central authority brought about everywhere the extension of the Christian religion, and only a few isolated cases of martyrdom are known (Le Catholicisme au Japon, I, 173).

It was not until 1587, when there were 200,000 Christians in Japan, that an edict of persecution, or rather of prescription, was passed to the surprise of everyone, at the instigation of a bigoted bonze, Nichijoshonin, zealous for the religion of his race. Twenty-six residences and 140 churches were destroyed; the missionaries were condemned to exile, but were clever enough to hide or scatter. They never doubted the constancy of their converts; they assisted them in secret and in ten years there were 100,000 other converts in Japan. We read of two martyrdoms, one at Takata, the other at Notsuhara; but very many Christians were dispossessed of their goods and reduced to poverty. The first bloody persecution dates from 1597. It is attributed to two causes: (1) Four years earlier some Castilian religious had come from the Philippines and, in spite of the decisions of the Holy See, had joined themselves to the 130 Jesuits who, on account of the delicate situation created by the edict were acting with great caution. In spite of every charitable advice given them, these men set to work in a very indiscreet manner, and violated the terms of the edict even in the capital itself; (2) a Castilian vessel cast by the storm on the coast of Japan was confiscated under the laws then in vigour. Some artillery was found on board, and Japanese susceptibilities were further excited by the lying tales of the pilot, so that the idea went abroad that the Castilians were thinking of annexing the country. A list of all the Christians in Miyado and Osaka was made out, and on 5 Feb., 1597, 26 Christians, among whom were 6 Fransciscan missionaries, were crucified at Nagasaki. Among the 20 native Christians there was one, a child of 13, and another of 12 years. "The astonishing fruit of the generous sacrifice of our 26 martyrs" (wrote a Jesuit missionary) "is that the Christians, recent converts and those of maturer faith, have been confirmed in the faith and hope of eternal salvation; they have firmly resolved to lay down their lives for the name of Christ. The very pagans who assisted at the martyrdom were struck at seeing the joy of the blessed ones as they suffered on their crosses and the courage with which they met death".

Ten years before this another missionary had foreseen and predicted that "from the courage of the Japanese, aided by the grace of God, it is to be expected that persecution will inaugurate a race for martyrdom". True it is that the national and religious customs of the people predisposed them to lay down their lives with singular fatalism; certain of their established usages, religious suicide, hara-kiri, had developed a contempt for death; but if grace does not destroy nature it exalts it, and their fervent charity and love for Christ led the Japanese neophytes to scourgings that the missionaries had to restrain. When this love for Christ had grown strong in the midst of suffering freely chosen, it became easier for the faithful to give the Saviour that greatest proof of love by laying down their lives in a cruel death for His name's sake. "The fifty crosses, ordered for the holy mountain of Nagasaki, multiplied ten or a hundred fold, would not have sufficed" (wrote one missionary) "for all the faithful who longed for martyrdom". Associations (Kumi) were formed under the patronage of the Blessed Virgin with the object of preparing the members by prayer and scourgings even to blood, to be ready to lay down their lives for the faith. After the persecution of 1597, there were isolated cases of martyrdom until 1614, in all about 70. The reigns of Ieyasu, who is better known in Christian annals by the name of Daifu Sama, and of his successors Hidetada and Iemitziu, were the more disastrous. We are not concerned now with the causes of that persecution, which lasted half a century with some brief intervals of peace. According to Mr. Ernest Satow (quoted by Thurston in "The Month", March, 1905, "Japan and Christianity"): "As the Jesuit missionaries conducted themselves with great tact, it is by no means improbable that they might have continued to make converts year by year until the great part of the nation had been brought over to the Catholic religion, had it not been for the rivalry of the missionaries of other orders." These were the Castilian religious; and hence the fear of seeing Spain spread its conquests from the Philippines to Japan. Furthermore the zeal of certain religious Franciscans and Dominicans was wanting in prudence, and led to the persecution.

Year by year after 1614 the number of martyrdoms was 55, 15, 25, 62, 88, 15, 20. The year 1622 was particularly fruitful in Christian heroes. The Japanese martyrology counts 128 with name, Christian name and place of execution. Before this the four religious orders, Dominicans, Franciscans, Augustinians and Jesuits, had had their martyrs, but on 10 Sept., 1622, 9 Jesuits, 6 Dominicans, 4 Franciscans, and 6 lay Christians were put to death at the stake after witnessing the beheading of about 30 of the faithful. From December until the end of September, 1624, there were 285 martyrs. The English captain, Richard Cocks (Calendar of State Papers: Colonial East Indies, 1617-1621, p. 357) "saw 55 martyred at Miako at one time. . .and among them little children 5 or 6 years old burned in their mother's arms, crying out: 'Jesus receive our souls'. Many more are in prison who look hourly when they shall die, for very few turn pagans". We cannot go into the details of these horrible slaughters, the skilful tortures of Mount Unaen, the refined cruelty of the trench. After 1627 death grew more and more terrible for the Christians; in 1627, 123 died, during the years that followed, 65, 79, and 198. Persecution went on unceasingly as long as there were missionaries, and the last of whom we learn were 5 Jesuits and 3 seculars, who suffered the torture of the trench from 25 to 31 March, 1643. The list of martyrs we know of (name, Christian name, and place of execution) has 1648 names. If we add to this group the groups we learn of from the missionaries, or later from the Dutch travellers between 1649 and 1660, the total goes to 3125, and this does not include Christians who were banished, whose property was confiscated, or who died in poverty. A Japanese judge, Arai Hakuseki, bore witness about 1710, that at the close of the reign of Iemitzu (1650) "it was ordered that the converts should all lean on their own staff". At that time an immense number, from 200,000 to 300,000 perished. Without counting the members of Third Orders and Congregations, the Jesuits had, according to the martyrology (Delplace, II, 181-195; 263-275), 55 martyrs, the Franciscans 36, the Dominicans 38, the Augustinians 20. Pius IX and Leo XIII declared worthy of public cult 36 Jesuit martyrs, 25 Franciscans, 21 Dominicans, 5 Augustinians and 107 lay victims. After 1632 it ceased to be possible to obtain reliable data or information which would lead to canonical beatification. When in 1854, Commodore Perry forced an entry to Japan, it was learned that the Christian faith, after two centuries of intolerance, was not dead. In 1865, priests of the foreign Missions found 20,000 Christians practising their religion in secret at Kiushu. Religious liberty was not granted them by Japanese law until 1873. Up to that time in 20 provinces, 3404 had suffered for the faith in exile or in prison; 660 of these had died, and 1981 returned to their homes. In 1858, 112 Christians, among whom were two chief-baptizers, were put to death by torture. One missionary calculates that in all 1200 died for the faith.
The Dutch have a rich history of A) being strident enemies of the Church B) lusting after profit. 

There is another thread discussing a Dutch seafarer who teamed up with the Irish to steal some people and burn a few villages.  Also, it was a Dutch pretender that stole the throne of England from a Catholic heir. 

And who can forget the wholesale Dutch iconoclasm during the Protestant revolt?
Here's an interesting (and relevant) article I just came across today, concerning Nagasaki's Catholic past:

Civilization & The Sacred

If not for the cloud cover that shielded Kokura 65 years ago today, Nagasaki would still be known first and foremost as a capital of Asian Christendom and a cosmopolitan gateway to the West. That was indeed its main claim to fame back in the 16th and 17th centuries, when Catholic daimyo were not uncommon in Japan, Christian peasantry numbered in the hundreds of thousands, and a delegation of samurai traveled to Rome for an audience with Pope Paul V. Even when the alarmed shogunate turned against the blossoming religion, cast out the priests, and drove the faithful into hiding, the city’s connection to Church life was maintained through various martyrs and a large population of furtive senpuku kirishitan – underground Christians. The former group includes the Twenty-Six Martyrs, who were marched from Kyoto to Nagasaki for crucifixion; the latter remained clandestine for over a century, baptizing and catechizing in secret while patiently awaiting the promised return of the fathers.

Of course none of this is what the city is famous for now, for when Nagasaki is mentioned it is the Bomb and not the Cross which comes to mind. Like Hiroshima, Nagasaki has become central to a debate between proletarianized, post-civilizational Tweedledees and Tweedledums, a debate which misses not only the significance of the city’s heritage but that of the bombing to boot. On one hand the use of atomic weaponry is noisily condemned by leftists possessing all the moral credibility of Stalinist poet Pablo Neruda. On the other, it is celebrated by GOP lickspittles who explain breezily that deliberate massacre of civilians is only terrorism when the bad guys do it. Look left or look right, the American mentality resembles ground zero: Sterilized, featureless, and devoid of activity.

Certainly one could never deduce from the modern excuse for intellectual life that the most scathing criticism of nuclear weapons once came from conservative Catholics such as Elizabeth Anscombe. An Oxford professor and accomplished philosopher, Anscombe founded her critique of the atom bomb upon the proposition Choosing to kill the innocent as a means to your ends is always murder. While acknowledging the fog of war, she had little patience for those who would use that fog as an excuse to chuck ethics into the wastebin:

“But where will you draw the line?  It is impossible to draw an exact line.”  This is a common and absurd argument against drawing any line; it may be very difficult, and there are obviously borderline cases.  But we have fallen into the way of drawing no line and offering as justifications what an uncaptive mind will find only a bad joke.  Wherever the line is, certain things are certainly well to one side or the other of it.

She also observed the employment of the false dichotomy fallacy on behalf of the bombing:

“It pretty certainly saved a huge number of lives.”  Given the conditions, I agree.  That is to say, if those bombs had not been dropped the Allies would have had to invade Japan to achieve their aim, and they would have done so.  Very many soldiers on both sides would have been killed; the Japanese, it is said — and it may well be true — would have massacred the prisoners of war; and large numbers of their civilian population would have been killed by “ordinary” bombing.  I do not dispute it.  Given the conditions, that was probably what was averted by that action.

But what were the conditions?  The unlimited objective, the fixation on unlimited surrender.

For the modern state, negotiated treaties are shameful.  There is no victory short of the enemy grovelling prostrate and awaiting existential reconstruction.  Consider the carping against Bush I for not sending troops all the way into Baghdad to “finish the job.”

Anscombe was hardly alone in being a conservative against the Bomb.  An equally weighty voice was that of Richard Weaver, who grew up and attended university in Lexington, Kentucky and went on to graduate work at Vanderbilt, where he encountered the Nashville Agrarian philosophical tradition. Like that of Anscombe, Weaver’s thought regarding total war strikes at unquestioned assumptions nowadays held by all devotees of the Americanist religion, Democrat and Republican alike:

The expediential argument for total war is usually expressed very simply: “It saves lives.” I have seen Sherman’s campaign in Georgia and the Carolinas defended on the ground that it brought the war to an end sooner consequently saving lives; the dropping of the atomic bombs upon Hiroshima and Nagasaki has been excused in the same way.

This argument, however, has a fatal internal contradiction. Under the rationale of war, the main object of a nation going to war cannot be the saving of lives. If the saving of lives were the primary consideration, there need never be any war in the first place… The truth is that any nation going to war tells itself that there are things dearer than life and that it proposes to defend these even at the expense of lives.

As if to emphasize that his criticism is not coming from the left, Weaver makes the now-taboo concept of discrimination a central element of his attack upon decidedly indiscriminate military doctrines. Furthermore, he contrasts the mechanistic, utilitarian mindset with older, more traditional Western ideals:

Although chivalry today is the butt of jokes, it was in fact a magnificent formal development… [it was] in reality an assertion of the brotherhood of man which makes the abstract, windy, and demagogic apostrophes of the present day to brotherhood look empty… The code of chivalry declared that even if you have to fight your fellow man, this does not mean that you place him outside the pale of humanity, nor does it mean that you may step outside yourself.

Even in warfare, and whether you get the best or the worst of it, you conduct yourself in such a way that civilization can go on.

Civilization rests upon the sacred. Thus it is as grimly appropriate that the first atom bomb test was sacrilegiously codenamed “Trinity” – as in the Trinity – as it is that the Fat Man made an almost direct hit upon Urakami Cathedral, the most sacred spot in Nagasaki.  It is this point that handwringing humanitarian moralists typically miss: The totalitarian horrors of modern war come from our hubris and impiety, not from any deficit of Lennonesque sentimentality.

An alternative illustration of the impious zeitgeist is the destruction of the Benedictine abbey at Monte Cassino. Founded in 529 by St. Benedict, the time-hallowed abbey was (erroneously) suspected by the Allies of being an outpost for German troops, and was therefore designated a target for a devastating strategic bombing raid.  While some had misgivings, an American artillery officer expressed the attitude which eventually carried the day:  “I don’t give a damn about the monastery. I have Catholic gunners in this battery and they’ve asked me for permission to fire on it, but I haven’t been able to give it to them. They don’t like it.”

The website of the reconstructed abbey puts the matter in different terms: “[T]his place of prayer and study which had become in these exceptional circumstances a peaceful shelter for hundreds of defenceless civilians, in only three hours was reduced to a heap of debris under which many of the refugees met their death.”

Ironically, once the monastery was obliterated the German hand actually grew stronger, as their forces moved in to find excellent defensive positions among the rubble.

A Southern boy, Walter Miller had been a crewman aboard one of the bombers that had destroyed this one-time home of St. Thomas Aquinas. The tragic Miller would long be haunted by his role in the mission against Monte Cassino, which may even have contributed to his eventual suicide in 1996. Yet during some years of clarity following the war Miller was to become an accomplished science fiction writer of penetrating vision. Specifically, his mesmerizing post-apocalyptic novel A Canticle For Leibowitz draws upon wartime trauma to depict a new dark age following global nuclear conflict.  The story is chilling, yet at times humorous and even optimistic as it chronicles the Church’s labors to preserve and renew civilization.

The hagiography of a future scientist-turned-saint named Isaac Leibowitz frames the novel, and seems particularly appropriate to this day:

And the prince smote the cities of his enemies with the new fire, and for three more days and nights did his great catapults and metal birds rain wrath upon them. Over each city a sun appeared and was brighter than the sun of heaven, and immediately that city withered and melted as wax under the torch, and the people thereof did stop in the streets and their skins smoked and they became as fagots thrown on the coals […]

Poisonous fumes fell over all the land, and the land was aglow by night with the afterfire and the curse of the afterfire which caused a scurf on the skin and made the hair to fall and the blood to die in the veins.  And a great stink went up from Earth even unto Heaven. Like unto Sodom and Gomorrah was the Earth and the ruins thereof, even in the land of that certain prince, for his enemies did not withhold their vengeance, sending fire in turn to engulf his cities as their own[...]

[T]here was pestilence in the Earth, and madness was upon mankind, who stoned the wise together with the powerful, those who remained.  But there was in that time a man whose name was Leibowitz, who, in his youth like the holy Augustine, had loved the wisdom of the world more than the wisdom of God. But now seeing that great knowledge, while good, had not saved the world, he turned in penance to the Lord[...]

In passages written in a more contemporary style, the novel deftly explores the themes of pride and folly without straying too far into the excesses of didacticism.  In one striking scene a secular scholar expresses his skepticism of legends about what humanity was like before the nuclear holocaust.  Casting his gaze upon a degenerate, vicious and illiterate peasant, he demands of the priest with whom he debates:

Look. Can you bring yourself to believe that that brute is the lineal descendant of men who supposedly invented machines that flew, who traveled to the moon, harnessed the forces of Nature, built machines that could talk and seemed to think?

Could you believe there were such men?

Plaintively and insistently, he asks:  “How can a great and wise civilization have destroyed itself so completely?”

Those curious about the priest’s answer will have to read the book for themselves.  It’s not a bad question, we must admit, for it prompts us in turn to ask what greatness and wisdom actually are. Such chains of questioning are a prerequisite to any renewal of civilization here in the ruins.

(06-23-2011, 07:59 AM)alaric Wrote: Can you blame them?

No, of course not. Just that making Christianity as un-foreign as possible would be a tall order for any missionary. And it seems that at this time in history, missionaries were less inclined to inculturation than in, say, the early Middle Ages.
(06-23-2011, 11:42 AM)kingtheoden Wrote: The Dutch have a rich history of A) being strident enemies of the Church B) lusting after profit. 

There is another thread discussing a Dutch seafarer who teamed up with the Irish to steal some people and burn a few villages.  Also, it was a Dutch pretender that stole the throne of England from a Catholic heir. 

And who can forget the wholesale Dutch iconoclasm during the Protestant revolt?

Don't paint with such a broad brush.

The Dutch Republic was indeed anti-Catholic, given its fierce war of independence with Spain and its adherence to Calvinism. However, the Dutch people are more than just the historical Dutch Republic or the modern-day hedonistic Amsterdam.

For instance, Pope Adrian VI, née Adriaan Florenszoon Boeyens, was Dutch and actually launched the Counter-reformation. Then we also have the renowned case of St. Peter Canisius, a Dutch Jesuit and Doctor of the Church, a leading figure in the struggle against the spread of Protestantism in Northern Europe.

Other examples inclue St. Charles of Mount Argus, a Dutch Passionist, St. Radboud, bishop of Utrecht, or the 19 Martyrs of Gorkum.

[Image: 623px-Les_19_Martyrs_de_Gorkum.jpg]
9000-9600 Catholics Killed at Nagasaki in August 1945
Quote:By 1945 the Nagasaki community of Roman Catholics, the descendants of these hidden Christians, formed the largest Catholic colony in Japan. Ironically, they inhabited the Urakami valley, which is the district of Nagasaki over which the atomic bomb exploded. The bomb killed nearly 9,600 of the 12,000 Catholics who lived near the hypocenter of the blast, leaving 70,000 people dead altogether. Their beloved church, the Urakami Cathedral, the largest Catholic church in the Orient, was utterly destroyed. Two priests hearing confessions at the time, along with dozens of penitents, were killed when the church collapsed on top of them.
(Nagasaki: A Peace Church Rises From the Nuclear Ashes, Jack Wintz, O.F.M.)

Fat Man exploded directly above the Catholic cathedral in Nagasaki. The city was the historical center of Catholicism in Japan and contained about a tenth of the entire Catholic population. The cathedral was filled with worshipers who had gathered to pray for a speedy and just end to the war. It is said their prayers included a petition to offer themselves, if God so willed it, in reparation for the evils perpetrated by their country.
(Karl Keating: e-letter of 3 August 2004)

It is ironic that this most Catholic of Japanese centers should have been targeted for the second atomic bomb of 1945. One of the original martyrs executed at Nagasaki in 1597 was a Mexican-born Franciscan friar, canonized in 1862 as St. Philip of Jesus. As he was about to die on his cross, he is reported to have foretold that one day Nagasaki would be destroyed by "a ball of fire dropping from the sky."
(Fr. Robert F. McNamara, Japan's Blessed Martyrs)

Nagasaki had been visited by St. Francis Xavier in 1549, and was the most Christian of Japanese cities with 10% of its population being Catholic. It contained the largest Catholic cathedral in East Asia; during the atomic attack, its roof crumbled killing dozens of parishioners that were about to give confession. Of Nagasaki's prebomb population of 22,000 Christians, most of whom were Catholic, only 13,000 survived the A-bomb.
(Peter N. Kirstein, August 9, 1945: Remember Nagasaki Genocide!!)

This page by the Institute for Historical Review shows "Why the Atomic Bombings Could Have Been Avoided" and asks "Was Hiroshima Necessary?"
Vetus - Point well taken.  By 'Dutch' I was speaking broadly about post-Reformation culture much like I discuss 'American System.'  There are people who respond to the call in all places.

If I find an older book on historical Japan that is lurking somewhere in my midst, I will post up pertinent sections.

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