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St Augustine : Augustinian Nagasaki, Japan
Augustinian
Nagasaki, Japan

A consequence of the instability and rivalries was the suppression of the Christian religion in Japan.
 
In 1614, the Japanese Emperor outlawed the Christian religion and expelled all the foreign missionaries.
 
At this time, twenty thousand people in Nasagaki, constituting half its polulation, were baptised, and 10,000 of these Christians were members of the Augustinian Confraternity of Our Lady of Consolation.
 
In this decision, the emperor was aided by the Protestant English and Dutch traders on the one hand and by the local Buddhist priests on the other.
 
Over 100 priests and religious were deported to Manila or Macao.
 
But some missionary priests, like Fernando Ayala O.S.A. mentioned below, ignored and evaded the decree.
 
They risked their lives by defying the decree and going into hiding.
 
As Europeans and South Americans in an oriental country, it was almost impossible not to be seen and reported to the authorities for execution.
 
Among those foreign priests who died in the attempted suppression of the Christian religion in Japan were Augustinians from Spain, Portugal and Mexico.
 
The first of them was Fernando Ayala O.S.A. (Ferdinand of Saint Joseph) from La Mancha in Spain. He had reached Japan in 1614 and was beheaded on 1st June 1617.
 
Pedro Zuñiga O.S.A. was from Seville in Spain and a nobleman by birth. His father had been the Spanish Viceroy of Mexico.
 
He became an Augustinian in Seville in 1604. Five years later he enlisted for the Philippines, in spite of the opposition of his family. Immediately he asked to go to Japan.
 
He was chosen as companion for the Mexican, Bartolomé Gutiérrez O.S.A., who had previously reached Japan in 1612 and had been expelled in 1614 as a result of the decree of the emperor.
 
Disguised as merchants, both arrived in Japan in August 1618. Pedro lived in hiding while the persecution raged in Nagasaki.
 
When he was found out, the Nagasaki governor preferred not to detain the son of an ex-Viceroy of Mexico and made him return to the Philippines.
 
Pedro Zuñiga then headed for Japan a second time in June 1620.
 
When the junk in which he was a passenger was captured by Dutch and English ships, Zuñiga was handed over to the Japanese authorities and was their prisoner for two years until executed.
 
He was burnt alive in Nagasaki on 19th August 1622. Martyred with him was Joaquin Hiroyama (or Firoyama), a Christian layman who had taken Gutierrez about his ship in order to smuggle him into Japan.
 
Among the crowd of 1,000 Christians and onlookers at his death was Blessed Bartolomé Gutierrez O.S.A., his travelling companion, and Miguel de San Jose O.S.A., one of the first Japanese-born Augustinians who was then ministering secretly in his homeland. (Miguel was later martyred, along with 637 Augustinian lay tertiaries.)
 
(Continued on the next page.)
 
Photo Galleries

To view the photo galleries of the Augustinians in Japan in this web site, select Japan: Fukuoka and Tokyo after you click here. A second gallery Japan: Nagasaki is also to be found there.
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