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The Jesuits, 1534-1921

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After the execution of Garnet a much more drastic penal code was enacted. Henry IV of France, through his ambassador and the Prince de Joinville, tried hard to restrain the anger of King James, but without avail, except that two missionaries, under sentence of death for refusing to take the oath, were saved by the French king's intercession. He could not obtain the reprieve of Drury, however, who was condemned to death because a copy of a letter from Persons denouncing the oath of allegiance was found in his possession. Whether this Drury was a Jesuit or not cannot be ascertained, for the "Fasti Breviores" and the "Menology" speak only of a Drury who was killed with another Jesuit in the collapse of a church at old Blackfriars in 1623. James would not listen to the remonstrances of Henry; he assured the ambassador that he was, by nature, an enemy of harsh and cruel measures, and that he had repeatedly held his ministers in check, but that the Catholics were so infected with the doctrine of the Jesuits that he had to leave the matter to parliament. When the ambassador remarked that there was apparently no difference of treatment whether Catholics took the oath or not, the king did not reply.




After Xavier's time – Torres and Fernandes – Civandono – Nunhes and Pinto – The King of Hirando – First Persecution – Gago and Vilela – Almeida – Uprising against the Emperor – Justus Ucondono and Nobunaga – Valignani – Founding of Nangasaki – Fervor and Fidelity of the Converts – Embassy to Europe – Journey through Portugal, Spain and Italy – Reception by Gregory XIII and Sixtus V – Return to Japan – The Great Persecutions by Taicosama, Daifusama, Shogun I and Shogun II – Spinola and other Martyrs – Arrival of Franciscans and Dominicans – Popular eagerness for death – Mastrilli – Attempts to establish a Hierarchy – Closing the Ports – Discovery of the Christians.

When Francis Xavier bade farewell to Japan in 1551, he left behind him Fathers Torres and Fernandes. They could not possibly have sufficed for the vast work before them, and hence, in August of the following year, Father Gago was sent with two companions, neither of whom was yet in Holy Orders. They were provided with royal letters and well supplied with presents to King Civandono, who was a devoted friend to Francis Xavier.

The newcomers were amazed at the piety of the 3,00 °Christians, who were awaiting further instruction. They found them kind and charitable, very much given to corporal austerities, and extremely scrupulous in matters of conscience and there was no difficulty in getting enthusiastic catechists among them to address the people and teach them the new religion. As the belief of the Japanese, was then, as it is today, Shintoism, which has no dogma, no moral law, and no books, and is tinctured with Buddhism, the main doctrine of which is the transmigration of souls, it was easy to arouse interest in a religion which presented to their consideration spiritual doctrines, a moral law and sacred books. In 1554 there were 1500 baptisms in the kingdom of Arima alone, though no priest had as yet entered that part of the country. The feudal system of government then prevailing made conversions easy. Thus, when the Governor of Amaguchi became a Christian, more than three hundred of his vassals and friends immediately followed his example. This influence was still more in evidence whenever a distinguished bonze accepted the Faith, an example of which occurred when the two most celebrated personages of that class came down from Kioto to Amaguchi for a public disputation. After the conference they fell at the feet of Torres, and not only asked for baptism, but became zealous instructors of the people. Naturally all the bonzeries of the Empire were alarmed and they rose in revolt against the Government for not checking these conversions. But Civandono called his troops together to quell what soon assumed the proportions of organized warfare. Indeed at one time, the insurgents seemed to be getting the upper hand: but just as the king was on the point of being entrapped, Fernandes at the risk of his life slipped through the ranks of the enemy and gave Civandono information which won the victory. After that the friendship of the monarch never failed his Christian subjects. He had ample opportunity to show his devotion to them, for uprisings were as common as the earthquakes in Japan, which were said to average three a day.

Father Nunhes, the provincial, had been induced by the Viceroy of the Indies to pay a visit to Japan at this juncture, and he arrived with Father Vilela and a number of young scholastics. With them was a rich Portuguese named Pinto, who had resolved to employ most of his money in building a school in Civandono's dominions. In order to help the scheme, the viceroy had made Pinto his ambassador. They arrived in April, 1556, after a perilous journey, only to find a letter there from St. Ignatius, reminding Father Nunhes that provincials had no business to undertake such journeys and leave their official work to others. However, such a pressing invitation had come meantime from the King of Firando or Hirando, as it is now called, and the chance seemed so promising for the king's conversion, that Father Nunhes presumed permission to delay his return to India. He was received by Civandono, whom he had to visit on his way to Hirando, with the same splendid ceremonies that had been accorded to St. Francis Xavier; and, during a long conference which was held with the help of Fernandes, he urged the king to become a Christian, but Civandono insisted that reasons of State prevented him from doing so for the moment. Nunhes then set out for Hirando, but fell ill before he reached it, and, in consequence, was compelled to return to Goa. As he had not converted a single idolater, and as Pinto's grand plans for the education of the Japanese were a failure, the provincial concluded that it would have been wiser to have remained in Hindostan, where he was accomplishing great things, than to engage in apostolic work to which obedience had not assigned him. Pinto's failure, however, was compensated for by the devotion of another rich man, Louis Almeida, who had come with Father Nunhes to Japan. Almeida being a physician, immediately set to work to build two establishments – a hospital for lepers and a refuge for abandoned children, which the immorality of the Japanese women made extremely necessary. This was another expression of gratitude to Civandono, which the king appreciated. By this time Almeida had become a Jesuit.

Meantime the King of Hirando, who had asked for Nunhes, was propitiated by having Father Gago sent to him. The missionary's success was marvellous. Numberless conversions followed his visit, beginning with that of the king himself. Helpers were sent, among them being the illustrious bonze, Paul of Kioto, whose conversion had caused a great stir some few years before. In a month or so 1400 baptisms were recorded; but Paul had reached the end of his apostolic career and he returned to die in the arms of Father Torres.

The usual uprising occurred, and the king who had made so much ado about calling Father Nunhes turned out to be a very weak-kneed Christian. Churches were destroyed, crosses desecrated, and other outrages committed, but he did nothing to quell the disturbance. Political reasons, he alleged, prevented him. It was in this outbreak that the first martyrdom occurred, that of a poor slave-woman who had been accustomed to pray before a cross erected outside the city. She had been warned that it was as much as her life was worth to declare her Christianity so openly; she persisted, nevertheless, and was killed as she knelt down in the roadway to receive the blow of the executioner's sword. Even Father Gago himself came near falling a victim to the popular fury. In view of subsequent events, if they were as reported, it is to be regretted that he missed the opportunity of winning the crown.

The first Jesuit who reached Kioto and remained there was Vilela. He had travelled a long distance to visit a famous bonzery to which he had been invited; and then, finding himself not far away from the imperial city, he determined to present himself to the emperor, or Mikado as he was called. His method of approaching that great potentate amazed the onlookers by its novelty. Holding his cross high in the air, he proclaimed his purpose in coming to Japan. To the surprise of every one, the Mikado seemed extremely pleased; but that alarmed the bonzes, and they accused Vilela of all sorts of crimes, not excluding cannibalism. Indeed, they had seen great pieces of human flesh at Vilela's house, they said. To stop their clamors, the Mikado finally consented to a public debate, doing so with great apprehension, however, for Vilela's success. The discussion took place, but, if the metempsychosis set forth by their spokesman on that occasion, represented the popular creed, one is forced to say that the Japanese mentality of that period was not of a very superior character. Vilela's easy victory gave him the right to preach everywhere in the Empire; and the number of converts was so great that many missionaries were needed to help him.

Father Gago, who had missed the chance of martyrdom a short time before, was looked upon as the man for the emergency. Francis Xavier had chosen him expressly for Japan; his facility in learning the language was marvellous; his piety was admitted by all; his zeal knew no bounds, and his success corresponded with his efforts. Indeed, he was almost adored wherever he went; but suddenly, just as he was needed he appeared to be a changed man. His energy, his zeal, his enthusiasm had all evaporated. There was, absolutely, nothing amiss in his conduct – not even a suspicion suggested itself. But he wanted to give up his work; and to the dismay of his associates he returned to Goa. He was nearly shipwrecked on his way, but that resulted only in a temporary revival of his fervor. He was sent to Salsette and was taken prisoner but was subsequently released. He was never again, however, the man that he had been in the beginning of his career. "I have enlarged on this," says Charlevoix, "for I am writing a history and not a panegyric." The "Menology" of Portugal, however, assails both Charlevoix and Bartoli for this charge, but the defence lacks explicitness.

From Kioto, Vilela went to Sacai, which was an independent city – republican in its administration, but in its rule as tyrannical as Venice was about that time. Over and above that, it was grossly immoral, and only one family in it would have anything to do with the missionary. So he shook its dust from his feet and went elsewhere.

Almeida, the physician, distinguished himself in his missionary journeys at this time, and he tells how he came across a whole community of people in a secluded district who had seen a priest only once in passing, yet had remembered all that had been told them, and were keeping the commandments as well as they knew how. He baptized them all, and leaving them capable catechists, one of whom had written a book about Christianity, he continued on his way, hunting for more souls to save. It was largely due to him that some of the reigning princes were gained over. One of them, Sumitanda by name, had distinguished himself by throwing down a famous idol, called the God of War, just at the moment the army was going into battle. As the fight was won, most of the soldiers not only became Christians, but, later on, when Sumitanda found himself attacked by two kings who resented his conversion, a great number of his men fastened crosses on their armor and swept the enemy from the field.

Meantime a revolution had broken out at Kioto against the Mikado; he was besieged in his citadel, but finally succeeded in beating back the foe. When peace was restored in 1562 Vilela returned to the capital; and multitudes, not only of the people, but many princes of the blood and distinguished nobles, made a public profession of Christianity. This again brought the bonzes to the fore, and as a prelude to a decree of expulsion of the missionaries, they succeeded in having two of the most influential men of the kingdom, both bitter pagans, constituted as a commission to examine into the new teachings. So convinced was everyone that it was only the beginning of a process of extermination that Vilela was advised to withdraw from the capital. He acquiesced, much against his will; but it happened that two of his Christians of the humbler class so astounded the inquisitors by their answers that both of the great men asked for baptism. A discourse of Vilela gained another convert in the person of the father of a man who became famous in those days of Japanese history – Justus Ucondono.

In 1565 the missionaries were treated with special consideration by the Mikado, on the occasion of the splendid court ceremonies which marked the opening of the new year. The whole nation was astounded at the unprecedented favor, but as usual it was only the prelude of a storm. In the following year the Mikado was murdered; and all his adherents were either put to the sword or expelled from the capital. This was the first act of a tragedy that would make a theme for a Shakespeare. It is as follows: The successful rebels had placed the younger brother of the emperor on the throne, but fearing a similar fate, he had fled to the castle of the distinguished soldier, Vatadono, who, finding himself not strong enough to maintain the claim of the fugitive monarch, induced the ablest military man of Japan, Nobunaga, the King of Boari, to take up the cause of their sovereign. The offer was accepted; two bloody battles followed; the insurgents were cut to pieces, and the young emperor, under the name of Cubosama, was enthroned at Kioto. The palace, which had been wrecked in the war, was replaced by a new one, built of the stones of the bonzeries and the statues of the national idols. The two conquerors then made haste to show their esteem for the missionaries and assured them of protection; Nobunaga withdrew to his kingdom when the work was completed, and Vatadono, his lieutenant, remained as viceroy at Kioto. All these events occurred in the single year of 1568.

Just then the illustrious Alexander Valignani, the greatest man of the missions in the East after Francis Xavier, came on the scene. For thirty-two years all his efforts were directed to shaping and guiding the various posts of the vast field of apostolic work in this new part of the world, his success being marvellous. He was born at Chieti. The close friendship of his father with Pope Paul IV made the highest offices of the Church attainable if he chose to aspire to them; but he left the papal court, and was received into the Society by Francis Borgia, beginning his life as a Jesuit by the practice of terrible bodily mortifications, which he continued until the end of his career. He was chosen by Mercurian to be visitor to the Indies; thirty-two companions were given him, and he was authorized to select eight more, wherever he might find them.

At that time Japan had only twenty missionaries, while there were none at all in China. When Valignani died, there were in the empire of Japan one hundred and fifty Jesuits and six hundred catechists, who in spite of wars and persecutions had three hundred churches and thirty-one places for the missionaries to assemble. There were a novitiate, a house of theological and philosophical studies, two colleges where the Japanese nobles sent their sons, besides a printing establishment, two schools of music and painting, multitudes of sodalities, schools, and finally, hospitals for every kind of human suffering, and when the persecutions began, he had resources enough at his disposal to provide for nine hundred exiled Japanese. Finally, it was his guidance and help that enabled Matteo Ricci to plant the cross in the two capitals of China. He wielded such an influence over the terrible Taicosama that it was a common saying in the empire that if Father Alexander had survived, the Church of Japan would never have succumbed. There was great rejoicing when his arrival was announced. The ship which brought him to port had not dropped anchor, before it was surrounded by hundreds of boats filled with Christians, all of them carrying flags on which a cross was painted. When he approached the city, throngs of people came out to meet him, some kissing his robe, others his hands, others his feet, and a long procession led him in triumph to the Church, where a Te Deum was sung to thank God for his coming.

In that year, Nagasaki, which was afterwards to furnish so many martyrs to the faith, suddenly developed from an inconspicuous village to a great city, because of the number of Christians who had settled there. A great sorrow, however, just then fell on the Church; Fernandes, one of the missionaries whom Xavier had left behind him in Japan, had died. Torres still remained, indeed, but he also was to end his glorious career in a year or two. However, they had built up a splendid Church; and under such conditions the work of evangelization could not fail to proceed rapidly. Indeed, the records of that period teem with accounts of conversions of princes and entire populations; and when Cabral arrived as superior in place of Torres, the emperor gave the missionaries his protection, in spite of the unrelenting opposition of the bonzes, who still exercised a preponderating influence at Court. In one of the provinces, Cabral, in his official visitations, found a very remarkable evidence of solidity in the faith. No priest had been there for ten years; yet a beautiful church had been erected and a fervent congregation filled it continually. In another place where the constant wars in which the ruler was engaged and the carnage which he had committed in conquering the territory had kept out the missionaries for at least twenty years, thanks to an old blind man named Tobias whom St. Francis Xavier had baptized and named, all the people who were left in the vicinity were thoroughly instructed in their Faith.

Meantime a new historical drama was being enacted, which was more marvellous than the first. The weak character of Cubosama had made him the victim of the bonzes, whom he heartily detested. They had also succeeded in disrupting the friendship of Vatadono and Nobunaga. Fortunately, the two friends were reconciled in time, but that gave rise to a counter movement to destroy them. War was declared on some pretext or other, and in one of the first engagements Vatadono was killed. It was a sad blow for the missionaries, for the hero was a catechumen and was waiting to be baptized. Left alone now and supposed to be unable to defend himself, Nobunaga was more fiercely assailed than ever by the bonzes. Wearied of it all, he called his troops together and set out for Kioto. His enemies fled before him. He took the city and set it on fire, and then, not because he was actuated by motives of personal ambition, but because he saw that if Cubosama was allowed to rule the state of warfare would continue, he locked up the feeble monarch in a fortress, and constituted himself supreme military commander or Shogun. It was then that Civandono, King of Bungo, the original friend of Francis Xavier, became a Christian and took the name of Francis; furthermore he built a city in which only Christians were allowed to live. There he passed the rest of his days an example of piety to all.

Meantime, Nobunaga continued to shower favors on the missionaries. He built a new and splendid city, and in the best part of it founded a college and a seminary. Christianity made great strides under his administration, as he was the deadly enemy of the bonzes who for years had endeavored to compass his ruin. Nevertheless, though he listened with interest and pleasure to explanations of the creed, and asked the missionaries, half roguishly, if they really believed all they said, and if they were not as bad as the bonzes, he went no further.

In the first years of Nobunaga's rule, Valignani conceived the idea of having a solemn embassy sent by the various Christian kings of the country, to pay their homage to the Sovereign Pontiff in the Eternal City. It was not an imperial delegation, but was restricted to the three devout rulers of Bungo, Arima and Omura. Nobunaga willingly gave his consent, and the ambassadors left Nagasaki on February 22, 1582, and repaired to Kioto. From there they went by the way of Malacca to Goa. On this part of the journey they were frequently in imminent danger of shipwreck, but they arrived safely in Goa at the beginning of 1583. There they were received with great ceremony by the Viceroy, Mascaregnas, who entertained them for several months. Valignani, who had conducted them thus far, returned to Japan after putting them in the hands of Fathers Mesquita and Rodrigues, who remained with them till they reached Rome.

They set sail at the end of February, and on August 10 dropped anchor in the Tagus. Charlevoix remarks that "this part of the journey was not long," though it was nearly six months in duration. The prince cardinal who was at that time Viceroy of Portugal showered honors upon them, and made them his guests in the royal palace for an entire month. They then visited the principal cities of Portugal. Nothing was too much for them in the way of honor and even in the way of money. Finally they were conducted to Madrid and had a public audience with Philip II, to whom they presented their credentials and offered the presents of the Christians of Japan and their expression of gratitude for all that his majesty had done for the infant Church of their country. Philip is said to have embraced them affectionately, assuring them of the great regard he had for the kings whom they represented. The Queen Maria put her carriages at their disposal, and on the following day they were conducted to the Escorial where they received the congratulations of the princes and grandees of Spain. The French ambassador also paid them a ceremonious visit. Even the king himself called upon them and had a vessel equipped at Alicante to conduct them to Italy. They left Madrid on November 26, and were received with almost royal honors in every city on their way. It was already January, 1585, when they left Spain. The Mediterranean treated them badly; and it was only in the month of March that they stepped ashore at Leghorn, amid the salvos of artillery from the fort. The carriages of the grand duke carried them on their journey to Pisa. There the prince and all his court were waiting to receive them, and led them to the palace, where a splendid banquet was prepared, after which Pietro de' Medici and the grand duke came to pay them their respects.

They saw the carnival at Pisa, and then journeyed on to Florence, where the papal nuncio and the cardinal archbishop, who was afterwards Pope Leo XI, bade them welcome. From there they passed to Siena, where, as guests of the Pope, they were met at the frontier by two hundred arquebusiers sent by the vice-legate of Viterbo to show them special honor. Gregory XIII was then on the Pontifical throne; and feeling that his end was approaching, he sent a company of light horse to hasten their coming. It was Friday, March 20, 1585, when they entered Rome, and their first visit was to Father Aquaviva, who was then General of the Society. He led them to the church, where a Te Deum was sung; and on the following day the Pope held a consistory which ordered that the envoys should be regarded as royal ambassadors; that their reception should be as splendid as possible; and that their first audience should be at the full consistory in the papal palace.

On the day appointed for the solemn entry, March 23, the Spanish ambassador sent his carriages to convey the visitors to the villa of the Pope; and then with the papal light horse at the head, followed by the Swiss guards, the cardinalitial officials and the ambassadors of Spain and Venice, with their pages and officers and trumpeters and all the papal household in their purple robes, the delegates proceeded to the City. The Japanese were on horseback and wore the costume of their country; princes and archbishops rode on either side, and followed by Father Diego, who acted as interpreter. A throng of mounted cavaliers in gorgeous apparel closed the pageant. The whole city turned out to receive them. The streets were crowded with people, as were the roofs of the houses, all observing a reverential silence, interrupted only by the blast of the trumpets or the occasional but enthusiastic acclamations of the multitude. When the bridge of Castle Sant' Angelo was reached, the cannon boomed out a welcome which was repeated by the guns of the papal palace and taken up by strains of musical instruments that resounded from every quarter as the envoys approached the palace.

So great was the throng of cardinals and prelates in the hall that the Swiss guards had to force their way through it, to conduct the Pontiff to his throne. When he was seated the ambassadors approached, holding their credentials in their hands; and then, kneeling at the feet of the Pope, they announced in a clear and loud voice that they had come from the ends of the earth to see the Vicar of Jesus Christ and to offer him the homage of the princes whose envoys they were. Tears flowed down the cheeks of the Pontiff as he lifted the envoys up and embraced them tenderly, again and again, with an affection they never forgot. They were then conducted to a raised platform; and the secretary of the Pope read aloud the letters, which they had brought. When that was concluded, Father González explained at length the purpose of their mission, and a bishop replied in the name of His Holiness. The second kissing of the feet was next in order, and the cardinals crowded around the wondering Japanese to ask them numberless questions about their country and the events of their voyage, to all of which replies were given with a refinement and courtesy that charmed all who heard them. The session was now ended, and rising from his throne, the Pope withdrew, giving to the visitors the honor, conferred only on the imperial ambassadors, of bearing the papal train. They were then entertained at a sumptuous banquet.

Private interviews with the Pope followed; and after receptions by various dignitaries, at some of which the Japanese wore their national dress, at others appearing in the Italian apparel, the Pope gave them expensive robes, which they wore with an ease and grace that was amazing for men so unaccustomed to such surroundings and ceremonies. When they went to offer their prayers at the seven churches they were received processionally at each of them, the bells ringing and organs playing. Meantime physicians were sending hourly bulletins to His Holiness, who was deeply concerned about one of the envoys who had been debarred from all these ceremonies by an attack of sickness. The invalid, however, did not die, but, later on, in his native country, gave his life for the Faith.

Indeed it was the Pope himself who died a few days after these pageants. He was ill only a few days, but in his very last moments he was making inquiries about the sick man from the Far East. He departed this life on April 10, and on the 25th Sixtus V mounted the throne. Before his election he had been most effusive in his attention to the Japanese, and was more so after his election, even giving them precedence over cardinals, when there was question of an audience. They assisted at his coronation, served as acolytes at his Mass, and were guests at a banquet in his villa. He even decorated them as knights, and when they had been belted and spurred by the ambassadors of France and Venice, he hung rich gold chains and medals on their necks, lifted them up and kissed them and gave them communion at his private Mass. He sent letters and presents to the kings they represented, and the ambassadors themselves were recipients of rich rewards from the generous Pontiff.

Finally, they were made patricians by the Senate, which assembled at the Capitol for that purpose; and were given letters patent with a massive gold seal attached. They then bade farewell to the Pope, who defrayed all the expenses of their journey to Lisbon. Invitations were extended to them from other sovereigns of Europe, but it was impossible to accept them, and they left Rome on June 3, 1585, conducted a considerable distance by the light horse and numbers of the nobility. At Spoleto, Assisi, Montefalcono, Perugia, Bologna, Ferrara and elsewhere, every honor was given them. As they approached Venice, for instance, forty red-robed senators received them and accompanied them up the Grand Canal in a vessel that was usually kept for the use of kings. Every gondola of the city followed in their wake; the patriarch and all the nobility visited them; and they were then conducted to the palace of the Doge, where the attendant senators accorded them the first places in the assembly. Tintoretto painted their portraits, and they were shown tapestries on which their reception by the Pope had been already represented. A hundred pieces of artillery welcomed them to Mantua; the city was illuminated and the people knelt in the street to show their veneration for these new children of the Faith from the Far East. They even stood sponsors at the baptism of a Jewish rabbi. It was the same story at Milan and Cremona. They approached Genoa by sea, and galleys were sent out to convoy them to the city. Leaving there on August 8 they reached Barcelona on the 17th. At Moncon they again saw Philip II who had a vessel specially equipped for them at Lisbon; he lavished money and presents on them, and gave orders to the Viceroy of India to provide them with everything they wished till they reached Japan. They finally left Lisbon on April 30, 1586. During their stay in Europe they had the happiness of meeting St. Aloysius Gonzaga, who was then a novice in the Society.

The splendor of these European courts must have dazzled the eyes of the dark-skinned sons of the East as they journeyed through Portugal, Italy and Spain; but they were probably not aware of the tragedies that were enacted near-by in the dominions of the Most Christian King, where Catholics and Huguenots were at each other's throats; nor did they know of the fratricidal struggles in Germany that were leading up to the Thirty Years War, which was to make Christian Europe a desert; nor of the fury of Elizabeth who was at that very time putting to death the brothers of the Jesuits whom they so deeply revered. The revolutions, assassinations and sacrileges committed all through those countries would have been startling revelations of the depths to which Christian nations could descend. However, they may have been informed of it all, and could thus understand more easily the remorseless cruelty of their own pagan rulers whose victims they were so soon to be.

Cubosama, as we have seen, had been kind to the Christians, and Nobunaga had welcomed the priests to his palace and found pleasure in their conversations. He had given them a place in the beautiful city he built; but in reality he doubted the sincerity of their belief just as he disbelieved the teaching of the bonzes. In default of another deity, he had begun to worship himself, and, like, Nabuchodonosor of old, he finally exacted divine honors from his subjects. Such an attitude of mind naturally led to cruelty, and in 1586 he was murdered by one of his trusted officials who, in turn, perished in battle when Ucondono, the Christian commander of the imperial armies, overthrew him. Unwisely, perhaps, Ucondono did not assume the office of protector of the young son of Nobunaga, but left it to a man of base extraction, the terrible Taicosama, who quickly became the Shogun. At first he protected the Christians, made the provincial, Coelho, his friend and permitted the Faith to be preached throughout the empire. The chief officers of his army and navy were avowed believers.

Three years passed and the number of neophytes had doubled. There were now 300,00 °Christians in Japan – among them kings and princes, and the three principal ministers of the empire. But it happened that, in the year 1589 two Christian women had refused to become inmates of Taicosama's harem, and that turned him into a terrible persecutor. Ucondono was deprived of his office and sent into exile; Father Coelho was forbidden to preach in public, and the other Jesuits were to withdraw from the country within twenty days, while every convert was ordered to abjure Christianity. The two hundred and forty churches were to be burned. The recreant son of the famous old king of Bungo gave the first notable example of apostasy, but, as often happens in such circumstances, the persecution itself won thousands of converts who, up to that, had hesitated about renouncing their idols. At this juncture, Father Valignani appeared as ambassador of the Viceroy of the Indies, and in that capacity was received with royal magnificence by Taicosama. But the bonzes, who had now regained their influence over the emperor, assured him that the embassy was only a device to evade the law, and, hence, though he accepted the presents, he did not relent in his opposition; yet in his futile expedition against China two Jesuits accompanied the troops.

Blood was first shed in the kingdom of Hirando. Fathers Carrioni and Martel were poisoned, and Carvalho and Furnaletto, who took their places, met the same fate. A fifth, whose name is lost, was killed in a similar fashion. Unfortunately, the Spanish merchants in the Philippines just at that time induced the Franciscan missionaries of those islands to go over to Japan, for the rumor had got abroad that the Jesuits in Japan had been wholly exterminated, although there were still, in reality, twenty-six of them in the country. It is true they were not in evidence as formerly, for with the exception of the two army chaplains, they were exercising their ministry secretly. Of that, however, the Spaniards were not aware and probably spoke in good faith. The Franciscans, on arriving, discovered that they had been duped in believing that the persecution was prompted by dislike of the Jesuits' personality, some of whom no doubt they met. Nevertheless, they determined to remain, and Taicosama permitted them to do so, because of the letters they carried from the Governor of the Philippines, who expressed a desire of becoming Taicosama's vassal. Meantime, a Spanish captain whose vessel had been wrecked on the coast had foolishly said that the sending of missionaries to Japan was only a device to prepare for a Portuguese and Spanish invasion. Possibly he spoke in jest, but his words were reported to Taicosama, with the result that on February 5, 1597, six Franciscans and three Jesuits were hanging on crosses at Nagasaki. The Jesuits were Paul Miki, James Kisai, and John de Goto, all three Japanese. On the same day a general decree of banishment was issued.

Just then Valignani, who had withdrawn, returned to Japan with nine more Jesuits and the coadjutor of the first bishop of Japan – the bishop having died on the way out. Valignani, who was personally very acceptable to Taicosama, was cordially received and the storm ceased momentarily; but unfortunately, Taicosama died a year afterwards and, strange to say, two Jesuit priests, Rodrigues and Organtini, who had won his affection, were with him when he breathed his last, but they failed to make any impression on his mind or heart. He left a son, and Daifusama became regent or Shogun. Fortunately, Valignani had some success in convincing him that to establish himself firmly on his throne it would be wise to extend his protection to his Christian subjects. Moreover, the King of Hirando, though at first bent on continuing the persecution, was constrained by the threatening attitude of his Christian subjects, who were very numerous and very powerful in his kingdom, to desist from his purpose, at least for a while. Probably he was assisted in this resolution by the fact that in the first year after the outburst, namely in 1599, seventy thousand more Japanese had asked for baptism. In 1603 there were 10,000 conversions in the single principality of Fingo.

Father Organtini succeeded in getting quite close to Daifusama who, to strengthen himself politically, allowed the churches to be rebuilt in the empire and even in Kioto. Unfortunately, however, in 1605 he heard that Spain was sending out a number of war vessels to subjugate the Moluccas, and fancying that its objective was really Japan, he gave orders to the Governor of Nagasaki to allow no Spanish ships to enter the harbor. To make matters worse, it happened that Valignani, who exercised an extraordinary influence on Daifusama, was not at hand to disabuse him of his error. He was then dying, and expired the next year at the age of sixty-nine. For the moment Daifusama was so much affected by the loss of his friend that he forgot his suspicions and gave full liberty to the missionaries to exercise their ministry everywhere. In fact, he summoned to his palace the famous Charles Spinola, who appears now for the first time in the country for which he was soon to shed his blood. With Spinola was Sequiera, the first bishop who had succeeded in reaching Japan. The imperial summons was eagerly obeyed by Spinola and the bishop, for such progress had already been made in the formation of a native clergy that five parishes which they had established in Nagasaki were at that time in the hands of Japanese priests, and an academy had been begun in which, besides theology, elementary physics and astronomy were taught. Organtini, who had labored in Japan for forty-nine years, had even built a foundling asylum, to continue the work which Almeida had inaugurated elsewhere. A hospital for lepers had also been started.

Nothing happened for the moment, but though outwardly favoring the missionaries, Daifusama was in his heart worried about this amazingly rapid expansion of Christianity, and when in 1612 two merchants, one from Holland and one from England, which were plotting to oust the Spanish and Portuguese from the control of the commerce of Japan, aroused his old suspicions by assuring him that the priests were in reality only the forerunners of invading armies, the old hostility flamed out anew. The opportunity to work on Daifusama's fears presented itself in a curious way. A Spanish ship had been sent from Mexico by the viceroy to see what could be done to establish trade relations with Japan, and on coming into port it was seen to be taking the usual soundings – a mysterious proceeding in the eyes of the Japanese. The fact was reported to Daifusama, who asked an English sea-captain what it meant. "Why," was the reply, "in Europe that is considered a hostile act. The captain is charting the harbor so as to allow a fleet to enter and invade Japan. These Jesuits are well known to be Spanish priests who have been hunted out of every nation in Europe as plotters and spies, and the religion they teach is only a cloak to conceal their ulterior designs."

Whether Daifusama believed this or not is hard to say, but greater men than this rude barbarian have been deceived by more ridiculous falsehoods. There was no delay. Fourteen of the most distinguished families of the empire were banished, and others awaited a like proscription. Then the persecution became general; the churches were destroyed and all the missionaries were ordered out of the empire. Daifusama died in 1616, but his son and successor outdid him in ferocity though there was a short lull on account of internal political troubles.

It was during this period that thirty-three Jesuits slipped back into the country under various disguises. Their purpose was to work secretly, so that the government would not remark their presence. Unfortunately, twenty-four Franciscans, deceived by a rumor that a commercial treaty had been made with Spain and under the impression that the root of the trouble was personal dislike for Jesuits, landed at Nagasaki at the end of the year 1616, and insisted on going out in the open and proclaiming the Gospel publicly. They reckoned without their host. A decree was issued making it a capital offense to harbor missionaries of any garb. Not only that, but it was officially announced that death would be inflicted on the occupants of the ten houses nearest the one where a missionary was discovered. The Jesuits took to the mountains and marshes to save their people, but the Franciscans defied the edict. The result was that immediate orders were issued to take every priest that could be found. Nagasaki was first ransacked. The Jesuits had all vanished except Machado; he and a Franciscan were captured, and on May 21, 1617, were decapitated. In spite of this warning, however, a Dominican and an Augustinian publicly celebrated Mass, under the very eyes of Sancho, an apostate prince who was an agent of the Shogun. The result was immediate death for both. The same useless bravado was repeated elsewhere. Different tactics, as we have said, were adopted by the Jesuits. Thus, de Angelis covered the mountains of Voxuan; Navarro and Porro lived in a cave in Bungo, and crept out when they could, to visit their scattered flocks. There was a group also on the rich island of Nippon – among them Torres, Barretto, Fernandes and a Japanese named Yukui. From this place of concealment they spread out in all directions, usually disguised as native peddlers; all of them, even in those terrible surroundings, winning many converts to the Faith.

A phenomenon not unusual in the Church, but carried to extraordinary lengths in this instance, now presented itself. Instead of striking terror into the hearts of the Christians, the very opposite result ensued. A widespread eagerness, a special devotion for martyrdom, as it were, manifested itself. Crowds gathered in every city to accompany the victims to the place of execution; the women and children put on their richest attire; songs of joy were sung and prayers aflame with enthusiasm were recited by the spectators, who kept reminding the sufferers that the scaffold was the stairway to heaven. At Kioto there was no trouble in filling out the lists of those who were to be executed. People came of themselves to give their names. Those who did not were rated as idolaters. The number ran up to several thousands and the emperor was so alarmed that he cut them down to 1700. There were fifteen Jesuits in the city. Six of them were banished, but the other nine went from place to place, keeping up the courage of their flocks. Gomes and the bishop had died in the midst of these horrors; and the duties of both devolved on Carvalho.

Unfortunately, at this juncture, a paper was found signed in blood by a number of Christians pledging themselves to fight to death against the banishment of the missionaries. That was enough for the Shogun. The Jesuits, to the number of one hundred and seventeen, with twenty-seven members of other religious orders, Augustinians, Franciscans and Dominicans, were dragged down to Nagasaki and shipped to Macao and the Philippines. With them was Ucondono, the erstwhile commander of the forces of Taicosama. On the vessels also were several families of distinguished people. Some died on the journey; and others, Ucondono among the number, gave up the ghost shortly after arriving at the Philippines. Twenty-six Jesuits and some other religious succeeded in remaining in Japan. As the provincial Carvalho, was among the exiles, he named Rodrigues as his successor, and appointed Charles Spinola to look after Nagasaki and the surrounding territory. The work had now become particularly difficult. Thus, one of these concealed apostles tells how most of his labor had to be performed at night. Often he found himself groping along unknown roads through forests and on the edges of precipices, over which he not infrequently rolled to the bottom of the abyss. Another says: "I am hiding in a hut, and a little rice is handed in to me from time to time. The place is so wet that I have got sciatica, and cannot stand or sit; most of my work is done at night, visiting my flock, while my protectors are asleep." So it was for all the rest.

The Protestant historian Kampfer is often quoted in this matter. In his "History of Japan" he says that "the persecution was the worst in all history, but did not produce the effect that the government expected. For, although, according to the Jesuit accounts, 20,570 people suffered death for the Christian religion in 1590, yet in the following years, when all the churches were closed, there were 12,000 proselytes. Japanese writers do not deny that Hideyori, Taicosama's son and intended successor, was suspected of being a Catholic, and that the greater part of the court officials and officers of the army professed that religion. The joy that made the new converts suffer the most unimaginable tortures excited the public curiosity to such an extent that many wanted to know the religion that produced such happiness in the agonies of death; and when told about it, they also enthusiastically professed it."

Spinola, who was seized at Nagasaki, was called upon to explain why he had remained in Japan, in spite of the edict. He replied: "There is a Ruler above all kings – and His word must be obeyed." The answer settled his fate, and he and two Dominicans were condemned to a frightful imprisonment. It is recorded that as the three victims approached the jail, they intoned the Te Deum, and that the refrain was taken up by a Dominican and a Franciscan who had already passed a year in that horrible dungeon. When the martyrs met inside the walls they kissed each other affectionately and fell on their knees to thank God. Leonard Kimura, a Japanese, was arrested at Nagasaki on suspicion of having concealed the son of the Shogun, and also of having killed a man while defending the prince. He was acquitted, but when withdrawing he was asked if he could give the court information about any Jesuit who might be hiding in the vicinity. "Yes, I know one," he said, "I am a Jesuit." After three years in a dungeon he was burned at the stake.

In 1619 the Jesuits, Spinola and Fernandes, with fourteen others, Dominicans and Franciscans, were brought out of prison and kept in a pen with no protection from cold or heat and so narrow that it was impossible to assume any but a crouching posture. It was hoped that by exposing them publicly, emaciated, hungry, filthy, and diseased, that the heroic element which the executions seemed to develop in the victims would be eliminated, and their converts alienated from the Faith. The contrary happened, and from that enclosure Spinola not only preached to the people, but actually admitted novices to the Society. As he stood at the stake where he was to be burned, a little boy whom he had baptized was put in his arms; Spinola blessed him, and the child and his mother were executed at the same time as their father in God. Five Jesuits died in 1619; and in 1620 six others came from Macao to replace them. Next year brought down an edict on all shipmasters, forbidding them to land such undesirable immigrants as missionaries. Nevertheless, two months after the edict was published, Borges, Costanza, de Suza, Carvalho and Tzugi, a Japanese, appeared in the disguise of merchants and soldiers. The Dutch and English traders volunteered after that to search all incoming vessels, and report the suspicious passengers. An attempt at a prison delivery precipitated the condemnation of Spinola and his companions in the pens. They were burned alive on September 10, 1622; on the 19th of the same month three more met the same fate, and in November two others went to heaven through the flames.

In 1623 de Angelis and Simon Jempo, with a number of their followers, were burned to death, after having their feet cut off. Carvalho and Buzomo were caught in a forest in mid-winter, and on February 21, 1624, were plunged naked into a pond, and left there to freeze for the space of three hours. Four days afterwards the experiment was repeated for six consecutive hours. But the night was so cold that they were both found dead in the morning, wrapped in a shroud of ice. Another Carvalho perished in the same year. Petitions were sent from the Philippines and elsewhere, imploring a cessation of these horrors, but the appeals made the Shogun more cruel. As the persecutions had produced only a few apostacies, the executioners were told to scourge the victims down to the bone, to tear out their nails, to drive rods into their flesh or ears or nose, to fling them into pits filled with venomous snakes, to cut them up piece by piece, to roast them on gridirons, to put red-hot vessels in their hands, and, what was the most diabolical of all, to consider the slightest movement or cry a sign of apostasy. Another favorite punishment was to hang the sufferer head down over a pit from which sulphurous or other fumes were rising, or to stretch them on their backs and by means of a funnel fill them full of water till the stomach almost burst, and then by jumping on the body to force the fluid out again.

It is unnecessary here to enter into all the details of these martyrdoms; but it will be enough to state that in a very few years, twenty-eight native Japanese Jesuits, besides multitudes of people who were living in the world, men, women and children, gave up their lives for the Faith, side by side with those who had come from other parts of the world to teach them how to die. In 1634 only a handful of Jesuits remained. Chief among them was Vieira. He had been sent to report conditions to Urban VIII, and in 1632 he returned to die. He re-entered Japan as a Chinese sailor, and for nearly two years hurried all over the blood-stained territory, facing death at every step, until finally he and five other Jesuits stood before the tribunal and were told to apostatize or die. Vieira, the spokesman, said: "I am 63 years old, and all my life I have received innumerable favors from Almighty God; from the emperor – nothing, and I am not going now to bow down to idols of sticks and stones to obey a mortal man like myself. So say the others." They were put to death.

In that year, however, it is painful and humiliating to be obliged to say there was a Jesuit in Japan who apostatized: Father Ferara. It was the only scandal during those terrible trials. He had even been provincial, at one time, but when the test came, he fell, and the glorious young Church was thrilled with horror at seeing a man who had once taught them the way to heaven now throwing away his soul. The shame was too much for the Society, and it resolved to wipe it out. Marcellus Mastrilli, a Neapolitan, made the first attempt to atone for the crime. No one could enter Nagasaki without trampling on the cross – a device suggested by the Dutch and English merchants. However, Mastrilli made up his mind to enter without committing the sacrilege. He succeeded, but was arrested and led through the streets of Nagasaki, with the proclamation on his back: "This madman has come to preach a foreign religion, in spite of the emperor's edict. Come and look at him. He is to die in the pit." For sixty hours he hung over the horrible opening through which the poisonous fumes continually poured. Finally he was drawn up and his head struck off. It was October 17, 1637, and Ferara was looking on. Three years afterwards a similar execution took place. There were four victims this time, and the apostate stood there again.

In 1643 the final attempt was made to win back the lost one. Father Rubini and four other Jesuits landed on a desolate coast. They were captured and dragged to Nagasaki. To their horror the judge seated at the tribunal was none other than Ferara. "Who are you, and what do you come here for?" he asked. "We are Jesuits," they answered, "and we come to preach Jesus Christ, who died for us all." "Abjure your faith," cried Ferara, "and you shall be rich and honored." "Tell that to cowards whom you want to dishonor," answered Rubini. "We trust that we shall have courage to die like Christians and like priests." Ferara fled, and the missionaries died, but the shaft had struck home, though it took nine years for Divine grace to achieve its ultimate triumph. The victory was won in 1652, when an old man of eighty was dragged before the judge at Nagasaki. "Who are you?" he was asked. "I am one," he replied, "who has sinned against the King of Heaven and earth. I betrayed Him out of fear of death. I am a Christian; I am a Jesuit." His youthful courage had returned, and for sixty hours he remained unmoved in the pit, in spite of the most excruciating torture. It was Ferara; and thus Christianity died in Japan in his blood and in that of 200,000 other martyrs. Eighty Jesuits had given their life for Christ in this battle.

This disaster in Japan has been frequently laid at the door of the Society, because of its unwillingness to form a native clergy. Those who make the cruel charge forget a very important fact. It is this: precisely at that time a native clergy was not saving England or Germany or any of the Northern nations. Not only that, but the clergy themselves first gave the example of apostasy in those countries. Secondly, it had been absolutely impossible, up to that time, to obtain a bishop in Japan to ordain any of the natives. Sixteen years had not elapsed from the moment the first Jesuits began their work in Japan, namely in 1566, when Father Oviedo, the Patriarch of Ethiopia, was appointed Bishop of Japan. But he entreated the Pope to let him die in the hardships and dangers by which he was surrounded in Africa. Father Carnero was then sent in his place, but he died when he reached Macao. In 1579 a petition was again dispatched to Rome asking for a bishop, but no answer was given. When the Japanese embassy knelt at the feet of the Pope, they repeated the request. Morales was then named, but he died on the way out. In 1596 Martines arrived with a coadjutor, Sequiera, and immediately a number of young Japanese who had been long in preparation for the priesthood were ordained; in 1605 a parish was established in Nagasaki and put in the hands of a native priest. In 1607 four more parishes were organized. Then Martines died, and in 1614 Sequiera followed him to the grave. Finally, Valente was appointed, but he never reached Japan.

Rohrbacher, the historian, was especially prominent in fastening this calumny on the Society, and when Bertrand, the author of "Mémoires sur les missions," put him in possession of these facts, not only was the charge not withdrawn, but no acknowledgment was made of the receipt of the information. As a matter of fact, it would be difficult to find in the history of the Church an example of greater solicitude to provide a native priesthood than was given by the Jesuits of Japan. The crushing out in blood of the marvellous Church which Xavier and his successors had created in that part of the world cannot be considered a failure – at least in the minds of Catholics who understand that "the blood of martyrs is the seed of the Church." Nor can such a conclusion be arrived at by any one who is aware of what occurred in the city of Nagasaki as late as the year 1865.

The ports of Japan had been opened to the commerce of the world in 1859. But even then all attempts to penetrate into the interior had been hopelessly frustrated. On March 17, 1865 Father Petitjean, of the Foreign Missions, was praying, disconsolate and despondent, in a little chapel he had built in Nagasaki. No native had ever entered it. One morning he became aware of the presence of three women kneeling at his side. "Have you a Pope?" they asked. "Yes," was the answer. "Do you pray to the Blessed Virgin?" "Yes." "Are you married?" "No." "Do you take the discipline?" To the last interrogatory he replied by holding up that instrument of penance. "Then you are a Christian like ourselves." To his amazement he found that in Nagasaki and its immediate surroundings, which had been the principal theatre of the terrible martyrdoms of former times – there were no less than 2,500 native Japanese Catholics. In a second place there was a settlement of at least a thousand families, and, later on, five other groups were found in various sections of the country; and it was certain that there was a great number of others in various localities. As many as 50,00 °Christians were ultimately discovered. Pius IX was so much moved by this wonderful event, that he made the 17th of March the great religious festival of the Church of Japan, and decreed that it was to be celebrated under the title of "The Finding of the Christians."
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