September 6 – Blessed Thomas Tsuji

September 4, 2017

martyrs of Nagasaki. 16-17th-century Japanese painting.

Martyrs of Nagasaki. 16-17th-century Japanese painting.

Born to the Japanese nobility in Sonogi on the island of Kyushu about the year 1571.

Educated by Jesuits at Arima, he joined the Society of Jesus in 1587. He traveled all over Japan and became known for his eloquent, persuasive preaching. After the publication of an edict banning Catholic priests, he followed eighty of his fellow priests into exile in Macao, where he stayed 4 years.

He eventually decided to return to the mission field in secret, since he had the advantage over European missionaries being himself Japanese and a member of the higher class. However, he was captured in Nagasaki 22 July, 1626, and imprisoned.

His family exerted all the pressure they could on him to abandon his faith, reminding him of their numerous social connections. In vain did they appeal to his sense of duty and social standing, charging him with bringing shame on the family reputation.

After more than a year in prison, in September 7, 1626, he was burned at the stake. As the fire was being prepared, he encouraged his fellow martyrs as well as the onlookers, blessing them as the flames rose about him. Some witnesses claimed that, as he expired, his chest burst open and from within it rose an especially large flame.

Pope Pius IX beatified him as a martyr in 1867.

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