where truth resides





A Matter of Perception

What people think of Tecla Hashimoto often reveals their innermost soul or spirit. 

I once had a manager at my apartment who was always trying to "evangelize" people into his Protestant form of religion.  We'll call him "Jake."  Jake considered himself "saved" and wanted everybody else to be "saved" as well. 

Well, one day I showed him the image of Tecla--not for the sake of showing him the image of Tecla, but because I was thinking of adding her image on the cover of a book I was writing about the Faith, and was showing him the draft version (he being a writer himself, so I thought he'd be interested). 

He looked for a moment, at the woman bound to a cross with her children in a great fire,  shrugged his shoulders indifferently , and said, "So?"

"So?" I responded, quoting him.

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"Yeah, 'so,'" he repeated.  "It doesn't matter if you burn your body for God.  All that matters is if you have Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Savior."

"Well, what makes you think she didn't have Jesus Christ as her personal Lord and Savior?!  She's against a Cross!  She's in the act of dying for the Church.  What more evidence do you need?!"  

"That's my point," he responded proudly.  "We don't know for sure what she thought, so there's no point dwelling on it.  But we do know what we must think to be saved.  Do you have Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Savior?"

I could see this conversation was going nowhere, and I was both dismayed and astonished that an adherent of the Protestant heresy, in his presumption and arrogance, went so far as to show complete indifference to the great sacrifice of Tecla and her family.  In fact, went so far as thinking himself better then her (since he is definitely "saved" while her salvation is in doubt, according to his warped theology).

At the same time, I somewhat understood, for it was Protestants (the Dutch Calvinists at Dejima Island, off the coast of Nagasaki) who had put her to death in the first place by informing the samurai bakufu that the Catholic Spanish and Portuguese wanted their king to be lord of Japan and thus this foreign religion must be stamped out by various cruel tortures and killings, which they then explained in great detail to the same samurai government leaders. 

I also met a Hindu woman from that same apartment complex and had occasion to show her the postcard of Tecla, and her first reaction was, "Oh, suttee!" Suttee is the ancient Hindu practice--abolished in the 1830s by the British--of putting a woman and her family to death in a great fire, along with all their possessions, upon the death of her husband.  I explained to this woman that Tecla's death was a far cry from suttee, for she died for God--but alas, the woman preferred the horrific errors of her own religion, and found no cause for conversion.

This reminds me of an encounter I had with a Buddhist woman while I was visiting the priest who had taken the magnificent pictures at St. Peter's Takatori Catholic Church (as seen here).  She was a middle-aged gardener who was tending the various flora at the feet of the miraculous Sacred Heart Statue of Christ a few months after the quake that had left it standing, and as I approached, we halloed each other. 

I then asked what she thought of the amazing statue she was tending and that had been in all the newspapers due to its miraculous appearance.  She then said she was afraid of it and could not look at it in the eye. 

"Are you a Christian?" I asked.

"No,"she said in Japanese, "I'm a Buddhist."

Then why don't you get baptized?" I said. "If you are with Christ, then you have nothing to fear.  But if you are not with Him, well...."

At that point  I noticed that the whole time she talked to me she remained in a bent-over position, as if still tending the herbage at the foot of the statue, even though she had completely stopped that activity. 

At this point I was reminded of what my friend (whom we shall call "Ryu") told me upon his visit to this same spot both before and after the Kobe Quake--that after the quake, the eyes of the statue had shifted.  At that point, I could fully understand her fear, although I did not share it myself. 

"Why can't you get baptized?" I asked.

"I can't" she said, and then made a sudden departure, staying in her half bent-over position as she made a series of quick, rapid bows; never raising her eyes higher than the level of my own as she looked at me, for the eyes of another entity loomed above my own....

Now the Takatori Statue is not Tecla Hashimoto, but its powerful, miraculous appearance on the morning of January 17, 1995, looked very similar to the appearance of Tecla in her martyrdom, and with the same implications: namely, the Downfall of the Gods and the Redemption of the World Through Love.  And thus I am sure that this Buddhist woman, along with her Buddhist and  and Shinto colleagues (for the two religions pretty much go hand-in-hand in Japan), would be as fearful of Tecla as they are of the Takatori Statue.  Certainly the Buddhist (and Shinto?) leaders of Kyoto do not want anything larger than a small stone hidden in bushes to commemorate her.

The Eastern Orthodox schismatics even have a fear of Tecla.  I was once at a local Kinko's Copies making color copies of Tecla's postcard and the  photo of the Takatori Statue (which I had procured that day of the meeting with the Buddhist gardeneress) when an Armenian woman who claimed to be a devout Armenian Orthodox believer saw the photos I was copying and requested the one of the Takatori Statue.  I told her she was welcome to the Tecla photo as well, but she refused.  I offered it a few times saying the Takatori Statue and the postcard of Tecla  were  a kind of  set, as they had so much in common, but she refused each time--and each time a bit more firmly.   

And thus it is with the utmost confidence, via my personal experience, that I am able to include the following lines in my Litany of Tecla Hashimoto (which you can find here):

"Tecla, Terror of Protestants,

Tecla, Terror of the Orthodox schismatics,

Tecla, Terror of Buddhists,

Tecla, Terror of Shintoists,


Pray for us!"


I guess it's all a matter of perception.