Episode 39 – Japan’s Christian Century, Part 2

This week, we’ll continue our discussion of Japan’s Christian century with the high-point of Christian missionizing in Japan, starting with the arrival of St. Francis Xavier. Xavier’s mission will mark the start of Christianity’s spread through the islands, but within half a century the progress of the missionary movement will have halted and Japan’s Christians and the powers that support them will be facing serious threats to their power and position.

Listen to the episode here.

Sources

Boxer, CR. The Christian Century in Japan.

Sansom, George. A History of Japan, Vol II: 1334-1615.

Images (Courtesy of the Wikimedia Foundation)

St. Francis Xavier, the man who would open the floodgates for Japanese Christianity.
St. Francis Xavier, the man who would open the floodgates for Japanese Christianity.
Otomo Sorin, the daimyo who received Xavier and decided to tolerate open Christian preaching. This decision would make the Otomo one of the most powerful clans in Japan.
Otomo Sorin, the daimyo who received Xavier and decided to tolerate open Christian preaching. This decision would make the Otomo one of the most powerful clans in Japan.
A period woodblock showing celebration of a Christian mass by Japanese converts.
A period woodblock showing celebration of a Christian mass by Japanese converts.
The so-called Tensho Embassy, a group of Otomo-clan samurai sent to Europe in the 1580s. Here they are shown meeting Pope Gregory XIII.
The so-called Tensho Embassy, a group of Otomo-clan samurai sent to Europe in the 1580s. Here they are shown meeting Pope Gregory XIII.
A Japanese church bell cast in the 1570s in Nagasaki. The inscription (IHS) imposed on the cross is a common shorthand for the name of Jesus.
A Japanese church bell cast in the 1570s in Nagasaki. The inscription (IHS) imposed on the cross is a common shorthand for the name of Jesus.
A map of Nagasaki, which grew into Japan's pre-eminent trade hub as a result of the Portuguese/Spanish trade. Note the foreign ships sailing into the harbor.
A map of Nagasaki, which grew into Japan’s pre-eminent trade hub as a result of the Portuguese/Spanish trade. Note the foreign ships sailing into the harbor.
The graves of several Christians martyred by Toyotomi Hideyoshi in 1597.
The grave of a member of the Society of Jesus martyred by Toyotomi Hideyoshi in 1597.
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2 thoughts on “Episode 39 – Japan’s Christian Century, Part 2

  1. ICM

    the tomb stones are from Melaka (Malasia) and not from Japan. Only one of the tomb stones os from a member of Society of Jesus that has been part of the Church of Japan. Please, if you are going to use someone elso photos at least try to read the tomb stones and do not make this kind of mistakes!

    1. I admit I misread part of it; Latin is not a language I am familiar with, and you are right that only one is from a martyr in Japan (I updated the description accordingly). Thank you for correcting me there. However, I did not imply the graves themselves were in Japan.

      Also, I’m very open about using images from the Wikimedia Foundation — my own personal photo collection isn’t extensive enough, and the Wikimedia Foundation exists for precisely this purpose. I’m not sure you intended it to come off this way, but I cannot say I appreciate your tone.

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