In 1597, the Christian faith became illegal in Japan. Thousands of Japanese Christians gave their lives as martyrs rather than renounce the Lord Jesus Christ.
The Christian faith first arrived in Japan through the preaching of St. Francis Xavier, a Jesuit missionary, in 1549.
Experts think that within the short span of 29 years, there came to be over 200,000 Christians in Japan.
Then in 1587, a military general named Toyotomi Hideyoshi ordered all the missionaries to leave his area.
Some of the missionaries obeyed. But most stayed behind, in disguise.
In 1597, Hideyoshi became furious about the Christians, partly due to a deceptive claim by the captain of a Spanish ship.
He abducted 26 Christians. To shame them, he cut off their ears. He led them through the streets to frighten people away from the Christian faith. Then he led them to the top of a hill near Nagasaki.
There, he crucified them.
Some of the Christians were foreign-born missionaries from Spain and Mexico and India. But most of them were Japanese people who had been baptized as Christians.
Paul Miki was an authentic Samurai, a high-class Japanese man and an eminent preacher. He was just a few months from ordination as a priest.
Other Christians that were crucified included catechists, interpreters, a physician, and 13 altar boys.
In the ensuing decades, thousands and thousands of Japanese Christians would give their lives for the Lord Jesus Christ rather than renounce him.
Those believers who evaded capture went into hiding and secrecy for over 250 years, taking part in one of the most remarkable episodes in the history of the Christian faith.
The Memorial of Paul Miki and Companions is observed each year on February 6.
Unless otherwise noted, all Bible quotations on this page are from the World English Bible and the World Messianic Edition. These translations have no copyright restrictions. They are in the Public Domain.