Tuesday, 9 October 2007

188 Japanese martyrs to be beatified

The beatification ceremony for 188 Japanese martyrs killed for their faith will take place next year on November 24 in Nagasaki.

The public announcement was made by the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Japan (CBCJ) spokesman Fr. Manyo Maeda, who read a letter sent by the Vatican to Conference president Msgr. Takeo Okada, bishop of Tokyo.

Cardinal Saraiva Martins, who heads the Vatican's Congregation for the Causes of Saints will represent Pope Benedict XVI at the ceremony, the first beatification to be conducted in Japan,Asia Newsreported

According to Fr. Isao Hashimoto, Nagasaki Diocesan chancellor, over 20 faithful have already declared their intent to participate in the mass.

In a letter to Japan’s Catholics Msgr. Okada announced the Vatican’s decision with “great joy” and added: “I hope we take to heart the meaning of the treasure our predecessors in the faith left us”.

Among the 188 Japanese martyrs killed were priests, nuns and lay.

The cause has become known as “the beatification of Fr. Kibe and his 187 companions”.

Jesuit Father Pietro Kassui Kibe, a convert to Christianity, had fled persecution from the government to Rome where he entered the Society of Jesus and was ordained priest. He returned to Japan to carry out his ministry among the oppressed faithful and in 1639 was captured tortured and killed in Tokyo.