16 Martyrs of Japan

The Martyrs of Japan (日本の殉教者, Nihon no junkyōsha) were Christians who were persecuted for their faith in Japan, mostly during the 17th century.

16 Martyrs of Japan
Died1633 - 1637, Nagasaki, Japan
Venerated inRoman Catholic Church
Anglican Church
Lutheran Church
Beatified18 February 1981, Manila, Philippines, by Pope John Paul II
Canonized18 October 1987, St. Peter's Square, Vatican City, by Pope John Paul II
Major shrineMinor Basilica of the National Shrine of Saint Lorenzo Ruiz, Manila, Philippines

Early Christianity in JapanEdit

Christian missionaries arrived with Francis Xavier and the Jesuits in the 1540s and briefly flourished, with over 100,000 converts, including many daimyōs in Kyushu. The shogunate and imperial government at first supported the Catholic mission and the missionaries, thinking that they would reduce the power of the Buddhist monks, and help trade with Spain and Portugal. However, the Shogunate was also wary of colonialism, seeing that the Spanish had taken power in the Philippines, after converting the population. It soon met resistance from the highest office holders of Japan.[1] Emperor Ogimachi issued edicts to ban Catholicism in 1565 and 1568, but to little effect. Beginning in 1587 with imperial regent Toyotomi Hideyoshi’s ban on Jesuit missionaries, Christianity was repressed as a threat to national unity.[2] After the Tokugawa shogunate banned Christianity in 1620, it ceased to exist publicly. Many Catholics went underground, becoming hidden Christians (隠れキリシタン, kakure kirishitan), while others lost their lives. Only after the Meiji Restoration, was Christianity re-established in Japan.

The first group of martyrs, known as the Twenty-Six Martyrs of Japan (1597), were canonized by the Church in 1862 by Pope Pius IX. The same pope beatified the second group, known as the 205 Martyrs of Japan (1598–1632), in 1867.[3]

16 Martyrs of Japan (1633–1637)Edit

Another group of martyrs were investigated by the Vatican Curia's Congregation for the Causes of Saints (CCS) in 1980 and were beatified on 18 February 1981.[4] Pope John Paul II canonized these 16 Martyrs of Japan as saints on 18 October 1987. This group is also known as Lorenzo Ruiz, Dominic Ibáñez de Erquicia Pérez de Lete, Iacobus Tomonaga Gorōbyōe, and 13 companions.[5][3]

Ordained MartyrsEdit

Dominican PriestsEdit

Foreign MissionariesEdit


Martyred LaityEdit

Dominican LaityEdit

Japanese Cooperator BrotherEdit

Foreign Missionaries – Confraternity of the Holy RosaryEdit

Japanese TertiariesEdit

  • Marina of Omura – 11 November 1634. A woman who assisted the missionaries in Japan, she was arrested in 1634 and burned alive.[5]
  • Magdalene of Nagasaki – 16 October 1634

Christian LaityEdit

Japanese CatechistEdit


See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Brodrick, James (1952). Saint Francis Xavier (1506–1552). London: Burns, Oates & Washbourne Ltd. p. 558.
  2. ^ Jansen, Marius (2000). The Making of Modern Japan. Harvard University Press. ISBN 9780674003347.
  3. ^ a b Martyrs of Japan (1597–1637) at Hagiography Circle
  4. ^ USCCB (Office of Media Relations) – Beatifications During Pope John Paul II’s Pontificate
  5. ^ a b Office of Papal Liturgical Celebrations (October 18, 1987). "Lawrence Ruiz, et al". vatican.va. Retrieved September 29, 2017.

External linksEdit