where truth resides


Miyako No Seibo


Here you can read a somewhat obscurely-written article (more sloppiness on the part of the Modern Diocese of Kyoto) on the beautiful black statue of the Virgin with Child called Miyako No Seibo, "The Holy Mother of the Capital."  A church named "Miyako No Seibo" was conceived by St. Francis Xavier on his trip to Kyoto to try to convert the Emperor of Japan to the Catholic Faith in 1552.  


The church was never built, but a statue of Miyako No Seibo was made three centuries later and placed at the side of the altar in St. Francis Xavier Cathedral (a.k.a. "Kawaramachii-Sanjoo Cathedral") for the conversion of Japan.  She now sits in an underground, modern-style "chapel" of the cathedral just four city blocks away from Tecla Hashimoto's site of matyrdom at Kawabata and Shomen streets. 


The mountain on which the Miyako No Seibo statue was buried in the mid-19th century was called "Shogunzuka."  As you can read here, Shogunzuka was not only instrumental in the founding of the capital of Kyoto in 794 AD, but the first



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emperor of Kyoto, Emperor Kanmu, built a clay idol of a warrior to guard the city, which he buried in the mound.  Furthermore, various military leaders throughout Japanese history are commemorated on this hill, and it is believed in the old legends that the mound actually shakes when the city is in danger.


All of these elements are aspects of Miyako No Seibo as well: she was instrumental in bringing New Life to the city (like the Emperor founding his new capital here); she was buried in the mound of Shogunzuka and looked over Kyoto as a kind of guardian (like the clay warrior made by Emperor Kanmu), and considering that the hill where Miyako No Seibo was buried is said to quake when the city is in danger--as it did at 5:46 AM on the morning of January 17, 1995, the morning of the Kobe/Hasnhin Earthquake--perhaps she was watching over Kyoto, for there were no significant casualties in that city. 


According to Japanese legend, the spirit of Sakanoue no Tamuramaro (758-811)*, the first Shogun of Japan, was reputedly buried on Shogunzuka and his spirit is believed to be guarding Kyoto still--but I believe it is more likely that the spirit of Miyako no Seibo, who was also buried atop Shogunzuka, is more likely guarding Kyoto than that of the illustrious Shogun.


At any rate, I believe Miyako no Seibo and Tecla Hashimoto are very close companions.  Only four blocks away from each other today, Tecla was martyred at the foot of the mountain where Miyako No Seibo was buried for some years.  Both women lovingly hold their children to their breast: Miyako no Seibo at play and Tecla Hashimoto in distress.  And both now rest with their Lord and Savior in eternal glory.


Miyako no Seibo, Pray for us and pray for the conversion of Japan!



* His first name, "Sakanoue," literally  means "On Top of the Hill," and the name "Shogunzuka,"  which literally means "The Hill of the Shogun," most likely refers to this legend.