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Before I joined the friars, I was a member of the St. Anthony of Nagasaki Secular Franciscan Fraternityin Washington, D.C., and as a member of that Fraternity I learned the story of the 26 catholics martyred in Nagasaki, Japan, in 1597. Twenty-three were Franciscans (six friars and 17 secular Franciscans) and three were Jesuits.

I had the opportunity to visit the city of Nagasaki on August 9, 1995, the fiftieth anniversary of the dropping of a nuclear bomb on that city. While there, we visited the site where the martyrs were killed and were able to have a mass in the chapel next to the monument. Just as we began to pray the Agnus Dei, the sirens sounded to mark the exact moment that the bomb had been exploded fifty years before.

Images of the Monument to the Martyrs in Nagasaki, Japan (click any foto to see a larger view)

These are various views of the monument erected at the spot where they were martyred. The last photo is one is the museum near the monument showing the journey of the martyrs from their condemnation in Kyoto to Nagasaki to be crucified.

0037_G Monument to the Martyrs Closeup of the Monument
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Images in South America

In my time in South America, I have found numerous depictions of the Nagasaki Martyrs. The Spanish friars in Latin America were contemporaries of the friars martyred in Nagasaki, and so their martyrdom would have been as vivid to Latin American friars as was the martyrdom of the church women in El Salvador to the church in the U.S. in 1980. In fact the first saint born in the Americas, St. Felipe de Jesús, was a young Mexican Franciscan friar who was crucified at Nagasaki at the age of 24.

Images of the Martyrs in Sucre, Bolivia (La Recoleta)

These images are from La Recoleta in Sucre. They are wooden images which are part of the coro (choir). The can be visited when the church is not in session by a door which opens to the friary. This door is near the spot where one president of Bolivia, Pedro Blanco, was assassinated in 1828,

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Images of the Martyrs in La Paz, Bolivia (La Recoleta)

These images are found in the friary, not the church. The first hangs on the second floor just at the top of the stairs. The second photo shows its position. The last is from a large poster showing a number of Franciscan martyrs. The Nagasaki martyrs each have their own panel.

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Images of the Martyrs in Cuzco, Perú (San Francisco)

These images are from the church of San Francisco, located near the plaza in Cuzco. The first two are, like in Sucre, carved into the coro. They are similar to the images in Sucre, but much more elaborate. The last two are paintings which hang in the same place. The coro can be visited as part of the tour of San Francisco.

IMG_6691 Representation of a Nagasaki Martyr IMG_6696
Painting of One Martyr

Images of the Martyrs in Cuzco, Perú (La Recoleta)

La Recoleta is about a five or ten minute walk from the plaza or can be reached using a taxi. The paintings are, again, in the coro of the church, and permission must be asked to see them.

IMG_6571 IMG_6572 Painting of the Nagasaki Martyrs
Painting of the Nagasaki Martyrs

Images of the Martyrs in Lima, Perú (San Francisco del Niño Jesús)

The church of San Francisco is located near the Plaza de Armas in central Lima. Its tour is famous for the catacombs found under the church. Part of the tour includes visiting the old friary which is, of course, located as a square around a central patio. Along the central patio, on each column there is a representation of a Franciscan martyr in ceramic tile. This is the representation of one of the Nagasaki Martyrs.

Ceramic Tile Representation

Images of the Martyrs in Lima, Perú (San Francisco Solano)

I have also seen a large painting at the museum of the Discalced Franciscans (the San Francisco Solano province) in the Rimac district of the city of Lima. Unfortunately, photos of the paintings were not permitted.

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