Home | History | Regional History | Japan - 01 | Japan - 04 ID 2381

Japan - 04

St Augustine : Augustinians Fukuoka & Tokyo Japan
Fukuoka & Tokyo

The final Augustinian priest to be killed in Japan was a Japanese man named Michael of Saint Joseph, for whom death came in 1637.
He was also known as Fr Michael of Bungo, the town of his birth. He was ordained to the priesthood as an Augustinian in the Philippines, and returned to minister secretly in Japan around the year 1632.

First he ministered in Bungo, but then moved to Nagasaki and was soon captured.

He died in the sulphur pits in a way similar to the death of Thomas Jiyhoe O.S.A., and only a few weeks after Thomas' martyrdom.
As well as these two Japanese-born Augustinians, of thirty-eight foreign Augustinians who served in Japan during this troubled period it is thought that as many as twenty-five of them were killed. Other religious orders - present in Japan in greater numbers - lost considerably more members.
At that time an immense number of Japanese Christians were executed over a number of decades.
The total has variously been estimated as anywhere between 30,000 and 300,000 persons.
Japan remained officially closed to all foreign influence.
For the next two hundred years between 1638 and 1854, very few missionaries entered Japan, but were rapidly arrested and executed.
Finally, when Japan reopened its doors for economic reasons soon after 1850 missionaries did not miss the occasion. The Augustinians, however, did not return to Japan until 1952.
Early in the year 1951 Thomas Hunt O.S.A., who had not long before become the first Provincial of the Order in Australia, was travelling from Australia to Europe by ship.

When the ship berthed at Nagasaki, he met the local archbishop, who asked him if the Augustinians could return to that part of Japan.
Thomas Hunt recommended the American Augustinians for the task.
After due negotiation, Fr Joseph Dougherty O.S.A., the Provincial of the Villanova Province (eastern U.S.A.), obtained permission from the Sacred Congregation of the Propagation of the Faith on 16th June 1952,  
Augustinian priests from the United States arrived in Nagasaki on 22nd November 1952.
Now using a majority of Japanese-born Augustinians and under the leadership of Masaki Imada O.S.A., the Order today conducts a parish with P-10 school in Nagasaki, and also has communities staffing a parish each in the cities of Tokyo, Nagoya, and Fukuoka.
There is also in Tokyo a formation residence for Japanese entrants to the Augustinian Order. In 2009 nine Japanese are Augustinian priests.
In 2009, less than one percent of the total Japanese population was Christian, whether Catholic or Protestant. In 2009, there were thirteen Augustinian friars in Japan, one oblate, one seminarian and one postulant. In terms of nationality, three are from the U.S.A., one from Cebu Province (Philippines), and the remainder are Japanese.
Further reading
The Life of a Witness for the Love of Christ: a story of the first Japanese person to be ordained a priest in the Order of Saint Augustine. Written for Augnet by Thomas Masaki Imada O.S.A., Fukuoka, Japan, February 2006. Click here.
Return to Nagasaki. By Thomas Purcell O.S.A. in Augustiniana (6), Augustinian Historical Institute of Louvain, July 1956, pp. 838-841.
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.

<< Previous    Next >>
Japan - 04
Japan - 02
Japan - 03
   Japan - 04
About | Daily Bread | News | Guestbook | Contact | Sitemap | Disclaimer