This monument, located within a few minutes of Nagasaki station, is dedicated to 26 Christians who were executed in 1597. The ... More
26 Martyrs Memorial
This monument, located within a few minutes of Nagasaki station, is dedicated to 26 Christians who were executed in 1597. The monument is a long wall with the sculpted figures of the martyrs (including children) mounted on it. The lights at night give it an eerie effect, but even without that, there is something a little unsettling about it until you realize what it is. Do not let the positioning of their feet escape your notice. Note that there is also a memorial museum whose admission is JPY250. You can access the monument, however, at all hours.
This is the site where 26 Spanish Franciscan Friars, Portuguese Jesuit Priests and Japanese Christian followers were crucified on Feb. 5, 1597 after a month long trek from Kyoto. It was also the beginning of Christian persecution in Japan, which was to last until the late 19th century. The park is significant probably because it is the only site in the world where this many saints were martyred. The names of all the saints are on the bronze scupltured memorial wall. The youngest was 12 years old. Pope John Paul II visited this memorial on Feb. 26, 1981.
Nagasaki also has a high concentration of Catholic churches, because this city was the only port where foreign ships were allowed to land. See also Gloverhill / park area, at the south part of the city. There are two churches in the neighborhood and Oura Catholic church is a National Historical Monument.
Another more recent local saint is St. Maximillian Kolbe, who founded a monastery in Nagasaki in the 1930s but was martyered in 1941, by the Nazis in Auschwitz concentration camp, Poland. Canonized
October 10, 1982 by Pope John Paul II.
I came to Nagasaki to visit the Atomic Bomb Museum after visiting the one in Hiroshima. But I found the history of the Christians in the area much more fascinating. I will be going back in April 2006, to do a more detailed study of the area.