Several of our sisters made a pilgrimage to Nagasaki from the 16th-19th March to attend the commemorative mass for the 150th anniversary of the “Hidden Christians of Japan.”
Around 150 worshippers attended the mass at the Oura Cathedral, a national treasure that was built in 1864, shortly after the Tokugawa Shogunate, which ruled during the Edo Period (1603-1867), ended its seclusion policy.
The church was built mainly under the leadership of French missionary Bernard Petitjean and held its consecration ceremony in February 1865.
A month later, a group of Kakure Kirishitan (hidden Christians) appeared at the cathedral and announced their faith to the priest.
After the shogunate banned Christianity in Japan in 1612, Catholics practiced in secrecy for about 250 years. They were believed to have been wiped out under heavy persecution before they appeared at the Oura Cathedral.
On the 5th the novitiate made an Edo Christian Pilgrimage. It rained occasionally but didn’t hinder out walk, instead made it cooler.
We began from the Asakusa Station and made our way to the Asakusa Catholic church. We couldn’t enter the Jishi Park which was the site of the Tenmacho prison because it was under construction. However, we were extremely surprised and shocked to hear that some 1,700 prisoners had been executed here.
In addition we visited Fudanotsuji and the Takanawa Catholic Church where there is an underground crypt for the Edo martyrs together with a museum.
Between 12th-15th May, the priest and followers of the Catholic Koganei Church made a pilgrimage to Kamigoto in Nagasaki prefecture. Amongst the places visited were:
The hidden Christians’ sites
Fr. Marc Marie de Rotz’s grave
Endo Shusaku Literature Museum
The Twenty-Six Martyrs Museum and Monument
Saint Kolbe’s Museum