Monday, March 03, 2014

Kakure Kirishitan

Here's an interesting bit of the history of the Church ...apropos of absolutely nothing whatever.

Japan's "Hidden Christians," or Kakure Kirishitan. In the 1540s, Jesuit, Franciscan and Dominican missionaries came to Japan and set up shop, converting lots and lots of people, including members of the aristocracy. Then one day, there was a regime change (as they say these days) and suddenly, the Christians were considered enemies o the state. So, Christianity was banned and the left-over Christians were arrested and executed... but not nicely.

On February 5, 1597, twenty-six Christians – six European Franciscan missionaries, three Japanese Jesuits and seventeen Japanese laymen, including two young boys, were crucified. On September 10, 1632, 55 Christians were martyred in Nagasaki. In the end, the number of martyrs reached about 1000, with about 200,000 Christians surviving and retaining the Faith in secret.

The ones who survived became this thing, Kakure Kirishitan. There were no sacraments, no hierarchy and few priests until Christians were re-admitted to the country in the 19th century. The remaining believers had nothing but the Faith.

Ongoing persecution included the attempt by the State to force everyone to formally adhere to the recognised state religion, Buddhism in this case.

The Buddhist ecclesiastical establishment was made responsible for verifying that a person was not a Christian through what became known as the "temple guarantee system" (terauke seido). By the 1630s, people were being required to produce a certificate of affiliation with a Buddhist temple as proof of religious orthodoxy, social acceptability and loyalty to the regime.

The Japanese government used Fumie to reveal practicing Catholics and sympathizers. Fumie were pictures of the Virgin Mary and Christ. Government officials made everybody trample on these pictures. People reluctant to step on the pictures were identified as Catholics and then sent to Nagasaki. The policy of the Japanese government (Edo) was to turn them from their faith. If the Catholics refused to change their religion, they were tortured. Many of them still refusing to abandon their faith were executed on Nagasaki's Mount Unzen.

Hidden Christians continued to practice their faith in secret: "As time went on, the figures of the saints and the Virgin Mary were transformed into figurines that looked like the traditional statues of the Buddha and bodhisattvas. The prayers were adapted to sound like Buddhist chant, yet retained many untranslated words from Latin, Portuguese and Spanish. The Bible and other parts of the liturgy were passed down orally, due to fears of printed works being confiscated by authorities. Because of the expulsion of the Catholic clergy in the 17th century, the Kakure Christian community relied on lay leaders to lead the services."



Fr Paul of Niagara said...

They were formed in the doctrine of the Roman Catechism, so I understand.

They had two Sacraments: Baptism and Matrimony (they were obviously excused from the law of form).

When the supposed priests came, to see if they were legit (in the 19th century) three questions were posed:

1. Are you married? (Bad answer: yes)

2. Do you love an venerate teh Virgin Mary?

3. Are youi in union with the Pope?

FR Paul of Niagara said...

I'm sorry, I need to vent. Re the Roman Catechism.

Some of the dear Feeneyites, since they are contradicted by this book, claim it has doctrinal errors and is not infallible. (It teaches about the catechumenate, which here is about delaying baptism, and the possibility of baptism of desire and thus salvation for a sincere catechumen, etc.).

As if Christ the Lord would allow a Catechism to be imposed on all the Parish Priests of the world, for use in their preaching and teaching, for more than four centuries. "Oh that's not infallible". Only obscure statements in Councils and maybe Encyclicals, not read or know by 95% of the Faithful are protected by Christ.


OF COURSE an imposed catechism is an act of the magisterium!

(Forgive me for venting)

Unknown said...

Very interesting - sounds very similar to the "Thomas Christians" of India

Anonymous said...

They were something of a fad. I wouldn't give them much of a thought today.

George B