Sunday, December 20, 2009

Korean Martyrs of Japan

It is known that in the invasion of Korea in 1592 the Japanese brought back to Japan many Koreans some of whom entered the Catholic Church. Totus Tuus websiste has a good introduction to this period.

In 1862, 26 Japanese martyrs were canonized, in 1867, 205 martyrs who died during the years 1597 to 1637 were beatified. In 1981, 16 martyrs were beatified and in 1987 were canonized, just last year 2008, 188 companion martyrs were beatified in Japan.

In the years from 1597 to 1637 there were known to be 13 Koreans who died as martyrs in Japan and now they have discovered two more to add to the list. According to some documents in 1594 there were about 2000 Korean Christians in Japan. In 1610 the Koreans had a Korean Church in Nagasaki.

The Peace Weekly had an article on the finding of two more Koreans in the list of Japanese martyrs by a Korean Sister who is working in Nagasaki. She received help from many to help her work with the documents and gave the results to the the archbishop of Nagasaki who told her to make the results known to the bishops of each country. Those who know some of the history of the Korean Catholicism in Japan feel that there are more to be discovered in the coming years.

The martyrs of Japan are considered to have been killed in the cruelest possible ways and some would say crueler than the early Christians and the martyrs who were killed in Korea. We do have martyrs in this age but at least its seems some of the cruelty has been mitigated. Possibly a sign that we have been sensitized in some way to the dignity of humanity.

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