Christianity in Japan was introduced by a couple of Jesuit fathers from Spain in 1549. In September 1549, one of the fathers was granted permission to create the first Catholic mission in Japan. Japan’s hope was to create a trade relationship with Europe. However, Christianity increasingly became a threat, with the following consequence of Catholics being persecuted. Christianity then became forbidden, and the Japanese Catholics that continued to follow the faith were killed.
The story of one Japanese martyr began through the act of conversion with the aid of a Franciscan missionary. Francis was a physician who became a Catholic in the sixteenth century. After his conversion, he became a Franciscan tertiary, whose duty was to preach the good news of our Lord Jesus Christ and to make God known and loved everywhere; as well as a catechist, whose duty was to teach the principles of Christianity with the aid of the catechism. He would treat the sick for free and offer religious teaching for free to those that sought it.
Unfortunately, the end of Francis’s life, along with 25 other devout Catholics, was ended by crucifixion Feb. 5, 1597, in Nagasaki, Japan, ordered by Toyotomi Hideyoshi. Centuries later, all 26 Catholics were canonized as martyrs by Pope Pius IX in 1862. This feast day is normally listed as Ss. Paul Miki and Companions and falls the day after the crucifixion because Saint Agatha’s feast day falls on Feb. 5.