Saint of the Day for 6 February: St. Paul Miki and companions
St. Paul Miki and Companions: Martyrs of Japan and Their Heroic Christian Faith
St. Paul Miki and companions
c. 1556, Kyoto, Japan
February 5, 1597, Nagasaki, Japan
September 14, 1627, Rome , Pope Urban VIII
June 8, 1862, Rome , Pope Pius IX
O God, strength of martyrs, who called St. Paul Miki and his companions to eternal glory through the martyrdom of the cross, grant us also through their intercession to witness in life and in death to the faith of our Baptism. Through our Lord
In Nagasaki, Japan, the passion of twenty-six Martyrs, of whom three Priests, one Cleric and two laymen of the Order of Minors, three others, including one Cleric, of the Society of Jesus, and seventeen belonging to the Third Order of St. Francis, all of whom for the Catholic faith put on the cross, and passed away by the strokes of a lance, praising the Lord and preaching the same faith, died gloriously, and by the Supreme Pontiff Pius the Ninth were ascribed to the catalog of Saints.
The Saint and Mission
St. Paul Miki and his fellow martyrs hold a special place in the history of Christianity, representing a mission of faith and witness under extremely adverse circumstances. In 16th-century Japan, these martyrs faced persecution and death because of their unwavering commitment to Christianity, offering a powerful witness of fidelity and courage. The mission of Paul Miki and his companions was rooted in a deep sense of loyalty to Christ and their Christian faith. Despite threats and increasing violence against Christians in Japan, they continued to preach and practice their religion with great zeal and conviction. This was not only an act of resistance, but also a shining example of how faith can inspire one to stand firm in the face of the greatest challenges. The story of these martyrs is also a reminder of the universal nature of the Christian mission. Paul Miki, a Japanese Jesuit, and his companions came from different spheres of Japanese society, demonstrating that the call to Christianity transcends cultural and social barriers. Their witness showed that the Christian faith was not just a foreign import, but something that could take root and flourish even in seemingly hostile terrain. Moreover, the martyrdom of St. Paul Miki and his companions is a living example of the impact a group of faithful people can have in history. Their deaths did not mark the end of their mission; rather, they inspired successive generations of Christians in Japan and around the world. Their sacrifice made the Christian faith even more visible and tangible, fueling the fire of devotion and mission in the midst of difficult circumstances. St. Paul Miki and his fellow martyrs remind us that Christian mission sometimes requires extreme sacrifice and that fidelity to the faith may require the courage to face even death. Their story is a powerful reminder of the cost and glory of following Christ, inspiring believers of all ages to live with the same boldness and conviction.
The Saint and Mercy
St. Paul Miki and his fellow martyrs, canonized for their supreme sacrifice in Japan, embody a unique and profound aspect of Christian mercy. Their story, marked by martyrdom in the 16th century, is a living testimony to how mercy can manifest itself even in the most difficult and painful circumstances. Mercy in the context of the martyrdom of St. Paul Miki and his companions can be seen in several ways. First, there is the mercy they themselves exercised. In the midst of their suffering and persecution, they showed love and forgiveness toward their persecutors. This act of forgiving those who were putting them to death is a powerful example of Christian mercy in action, reflecting Christ’s attitude on the cross. Second, their faithfulness and sacrifice can be seen as an act of mercy toward the wider Christian community. Through their martyrdom, they strengthened the faith of countless other Christians, showing that faithfulness to Christ can transcend even the fear of death. Their witness has become a source of strength and inspiration for many, fanning the flame of faith in times of great trial. Moreover, the story of St. Paul Miki and his companions underscores divine mercy. Their martyrdom, though tragic, is also a sign of God’s presence and providence, which can transform even acts of violence and hatred into opportunities for grace and redemption. Their faith and sacrifice are a reminder that God is always present, even in the darkest situations, working to bring good from evil, hope from despair. The lives and martyrdom of St. Paul Miki and his companions are a powerful reminder of the role of mercy in the Christian faith. They show that mercy is not only something we receive from God, but also something we are called to exercise, even in the most unfavorable circumstances. Their legacy continues to inspire the faithful around the world to live with the same mercy, courage and faith.
Paul Miki is the first Japanese martyr, or rather the first Japanese fallen martyr for his Christian faith. In fact, it should be made clear that he is not a fallen missionary in Japan, but a Christian from Japan, exemplary in life and exemplary especially in death. His life after all was very simple, straightforward. He belonged to the truly impressive throng of early Japanese converts after the earliest attempt to evangelize that very distant country, linked, as we know, to the history and glory of the great St. Francis Xavier.
Francis Xavier had been in Japan around 1550, and…