St. Paul Miki and Companions
Feast Day: February 6
In 1597, Jesuit novice Paul Miki, 22 other men, and three boys were martyred for their faith on a hill in Nagasaki, Japan. His companions were two Jesuit priests, six Franciscan priests, 17 lay people, including catechists, a doctor, cook, carpenter, and a translator, and three altar boys.
Nine years before, the Japanese emperor had ordered all Christians out of Japan. He feared that they would take over the country. Paul and his friends stayed behind and continued to do God’s work.
They were arrested and sentenced to death in December of 1596. They were tortured and forced to march 600 miles to the hill where they were going to be executed. During their journey, Paul and his companions kept their faith and courage by praying and singing together. People came out of their homes to see the prisoners as they marched by. Their example inspired many Japanese citizens.
Paul and his friends were crucified. Before he died, Paul forgave those who persecuted him. He said, “Ask Christ to help you become happy.”
Nearly 300 years later, missionaries returned to Japan. They saw no sign of the Christian faith when they began their work. However, they quickly learned that many people had kept the Catholic faith alive in secret over the years.
Paul was born in Japan, the son of a Japanese military leader. He joined the Jesuits in 1580 and became known as a famous preacher.
The Church honors Paul Miki and his companions as saints, canonized in 1862. Their example helps us to remember that making God part of our lives is the only way to true happiness.
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