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Shrine now a national pilgrimage site
Ceremony also marks 150th anniversary of canonization of 26 martyrsA memorial Mass is held at Kawaramachi Cathedral
- ucanews.com correspondent, Tokyo
- June 14, 2012
The Catholic Bishopsâ€™ Conference of Japan had decided at their plenary session last February to mark the anniversary by making the declaration.
St Paul Miki and his companions were crucified at Nishizaka on February 5, 1597. Most of the martyrs had been arrested in Kyoto and Osaka and had been forced to make the journey to Nagasaki mostly on foot, traveling about 1,000 kilometers.
The 26 included six Franciscans and three who were either Jesuits or co-workers with the Jesuits. Seventeen were laypersons, including three children.
The executions at Nishizaka marked the beginning of a persecution that lasted until 1873. Estimates for the number killed range from 5,000 to 300,000.
A Memorial Mass commemorating the canonization was celebrated at three churches along the route the martyrs traveled, including the Kawaramachi Cathedral of Kyoto.
Bishops designate martyrs site a national sanctuary