Much is being written about the Great Japan Quake-Tsunami Disaster of 2011--its origins, its causes, its magnitude, its destruction--and the potential nuclear disaster that has followed in its wake; but I think the most important thing to remember is the existence of an all-powerful God who loves the Japanese and desires their conversion to the Catholic Faith, away from all their false gods of the Buddhist and Shintoist persuasion. Tecla Hashimoto knew of this all-powerful God and even, perhaps, was present when the following events occurred:
Fray Pedro Bautista was a Spanish Franciscan friar acting as ambassador of the Philippines when he landed on the shores of Japan in 1594. He subsequently traveled to Meaco (the Portuguese spelling of "Miyako," the old capital of Japan and modern day Kyoto) and there had an audience with Taicosama, the emperor, whose palace lay in the heart of the city. A treaty was forged and Padre Bautista was given permission to start a small mission church in downtown Meaco.
As described by Patricia M. Araneta in the book San Pedro Bautista: A Saint in the Philippines, "Thereafter Fray Pedro's endeavours progressed unceasingly. Not only did he enjoy the benevolence of Taicosama but also the fervor and generosity of the Christian converts. At this time the most important cities in Japan included Meaco, Osaka, and Nagasaki, all witnesses to the dedication of the Franciscan missionaries and the fruits of their labor. In Meaco, a monastery, the Porciuncula, and a church were blessed on the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi in 1594. A school for children was also established there and two leprosaria, one dedicated to Santa Ana and the other to San Jose. In Nagasaki, a hermitage and the leprosarium of San Lazaro were built. In all three cities Christian converts worked hand-in-hand with the friars in exercising works of mercy and charity.
"While the salvation of souls increased and the faith of converts strengthened, the Emperor's kindly attention waned. The missionaries, after converting many Japanese, aroused the envy of the Bonzos. These were the local [Buddhist] priests, who started poisoning the minds of government officials and influential palace informers about the Christian priests. Not only were the Bonzos now losing their spiritual hold on the Japanese but their material and financial support. It is, therefore, of little surprise that when great tremors shook the cities of Meaco and Osaka, destroying many Buddhist temples and palaces but leaving the churches and monasteries of the Jesuits and Franciscans unharmed, the Bonzos kindled their own interpretation of these occurrences with lies and intrigues. Taicosama, who had suffered many personal losses during the earthquakes, including the death of loved ones, had initially looked upon these disasters as a sign that a more powerful God existed. The Bonzos, however, immediately attributed the unfortunate occurrences to the anger of their deities for having allowed other faiths to influence the people of Japan; slowly, their Emperor started believing them."
Alas, we know what happened next, as the execution of the 26 Martyrs of Nagasaki on February 6, 1597, and the 52 + 1 Martyrs of Kyoto on October 6, 1619--both of these groups of martyrs originating from that same Christian colony established by Fray Pedro Bautista in the heart of Meaco in 1594--along with tens of thousands of other martyrs strewn throughout Japan, might amply attest. But we must at least give credit to the Japanese emperor of that time for initially seeing these quakes as the sign of a more powerful God--the Christian God.
Will the current Japanese emperor be given a similar insight?
Posted on March 27, 2011