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Bishops make martyr site a national sanctuary

  • ucanews.com correspondent, Tokyo
  • Japan
  • February 23, 2012
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The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Japan (CBCJ) has decided to designate the Nishizaka pilgrimage site in Nagasaki, where 26 martyrs were killed, as a national sanctuary.

This year marks the 150th anniversary of the canonization St Paul Miki and his companions, also known as “the 26 Martyrs of Japan.” CBCJ made its decision about the Nishizaka site during its plenary assembly held in Tokyo last week.

At the same time, CBCJ decided to create a network linking Kyoto, Osaka, Hiroshima, Fukuoka and Nagasaki, the five dioceses along the road which the martyrs walked from Kyoto to Nagasaki. The goal of the network is to set up that road as a pilgrimage course.

The 26 Martyrs were killed by crucifixion on February 5, 1597, on “Nishizaka Hill” in Nagasaki. Six of the martyrs were Franciscans, three were either Jesuits themselves or worked with Jesuits, and 17 were laymen. Three of them were children. The martyrs were arrested in Kyoto but were forced to walk nearly the entire way to Nagasaki, where they were executed.

St Paul Miki and his companions were canonized on June 8, 1862. Their feast day on the Roman calendar is February 6, but it is celebrated in Japan on February 5.
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