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A History of the Japanese People by F. Brinkley

Hideyoshi is recorded to have stated


*Charlevoix,

referring to this incident, says, "This unfortunate statement inflicted a wound on religion which is bleeding still after a century and a half."

**Encyclopaedia Britannica, 11th edition; article "Japan," by Brinkley.

THE FIRST CHRISTIAN MARTYRS IN JAPAN

The words of the San Felipe's master were immediately reported to Hideyoshi. They roused him to hot anger. He is reported to have cried: "What! my States are filled with traitors, and their numbers increase every day. I have proscribed the foreign doctors, but out of compassion for the age and infirmity of some among them, I have allowed their remaining in Japan. I shut my eyes to the presence of several others because I fancied them to be quiet and incapable of forming bad designs, and they are serpents I have been cherishing in my bosom. The traitors are entirely employed in making me enemies among my own subjects and perhaps in my own family. But they will learn what it is to play with me... I am not anxious for myself. So long as the breath of life remains, I defy all the powers of the earth to attack me. But I am perhaps to leave the empire to a child, and how can he maintain himself against so many foes, domestic and foreign, if I do not provide for everything incessantly?"

Then, finally, the Franciscans were arrested and condemned to have their noses and ears cut off;* to be promenaded

through Kyoto, Osaka, and Sakai, and to be crucified at Nagasaki. "I have ordered these foreigners to be treated thus," Hideyoshi is recorded to have stated, "because they have come from the Philippines to Japan, calling themselves ambassadors, although they were not so; because they have remained here for long without my permission; because in defiance of my prohibition they have built churches, preached their religion, and caused disorders." These men were the first martyrs in Japan.

*The mutilation was confined to the lobe of one ear.

They numbered twenty-six, namely, six Franciscans, three Jesuits, and seventeen native Christians who were chiefly domestic servants of the Franciscans. They met their fate with noble fortitude. Hideyoshi did not stop there. He took measures to have his edict of 1587 converted into a stern reality. The governor of Nagasaki received orders to send away all the Jesuits, permitting only two or three to remain for the service of Portuguese merchants.

The Jesuits, however, were not to be deterred by personal peril. There were 125 of them in Japan at that time, and of these only eleven left Nagasaki by sea in October, 1597, though the same vessel carried a number of pretended Jesuits who were, in reality, disguised sailors. This deception was necessarily known to the local authorities; but their sympathies being with the Jesuits, they kept silence until early the following year, when, owing to a rumour that Hideyoshi himself contemplated a visit to Kyushu, they took really efficient measures to expel all the fathers. No less than 137 churches throughout Kyushu were thrown down, as well as several seminaries and residences of the fathers, and, at Nagasaki, all the Jesuits in Japan were assembled for deportation to Macao in the following year when the "great ship" was expected to visit that port. But before her arrival Hideyoshi died, and a respite was thus gained for the Jesuits.


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