Here’s a new post from our good friend, John Dougill.
The episode originated four years earlier, when the Spanish governor of the Philippines sent a delegation headed by a Franciscan friar. He petitioned Hideyoshi for permission to build a small monastery where the museum now stands. With three others he ran a hospital, and the charitable works soon resulted in converts. The surrounding area became known as ‘Dios machi’ for the number of Christians.
In 1596 a Spanish galleon named the San Felipe was shipwrecked off Shikoku and the cargo seized. The enraged pilot threatened the authorities by claiming missionaries in Japan were the advance guard of the Spanish king whose armies would colonize them, just as they had in S. America.
At Nagasaki the 26 Martyrs were publicly crucified. Six were foreign priests (one was an unfortunate Mexican heading home from the Philippines aboard the San Felipe). The rest were Japanese laymen, the youngest of whom was just twelve years old.
During the age of isolation it was thought the religion had been eradicated. Only after 1865, with the return of foreign priests, was it realised that for seven generations pockets of Hidden Christians had handed down their beliefs in secret. It was an astonishing story, and one whose history is recorded in the artifacts of the Furansisko no Ie.
For details about Furansisko no Ie, see http://www7a.biglobe.ne.jp/~