I did not get to the Shrine to the 26 Martyrs, but Oura Catholic Church is closely related to the event of the 26 martyrs… so here is a little background history…

“Christianity was officially banned in 1587 by the shogun Toyotomi Hideyoshi who feared that conversions would lead to political intrigues and the undermining of the state by foreign powers.  In that year, to emphasize the point, 26 defiant Christians (Japanese and foreigners) were rounded up and crucified on Nishizaka Hill, the first of over 600 documented martyrdoms in the Nagasaki area alone.  Without a clergy and without a single chapel to worship in, Christianity, astonishingly, managed to survive covertly for 200 years after the martyrdom until the end of Japan’s isolationist policy.”

Oura Catholic Church – This white church was built in 1864 uder the direction of Bernard Petitjean, a French priest who became the first Bishop of Nagasaki.  The church, which boasts some impressive stained-glass windows, was erected in order to serve the foreign community that settled in Nagasaki after the new trade treaties were signed.  It was also intended to honor the city’s 26 martyred saints  Shortly after its foundation, Father Petitjean was approached by members of a group of Japanese Christians who had practiced their faith in secret and at risk for over 200 years.  Classed as a National Treasure, Oura is one of the oldest churches in Japan and the country’s earliest Gothic wooden structure.”

I was able to experience walking through this amazing old church and pondering over the history of what had gone on before…it was amazing.

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