Wednesday, November 07, 2007

A number of the kakure kirishitan did come back:
In effect, among the victims of the atomic bomb in Nagasaki, two thirds of the small but vibrant Japanese Catholic community disappeared in a single day. It was a community that was nearly wiped out twice in three centuries.

In 1945, this was done through an act of war that was mysteriously focused on this city. Three centuries before, it was by a terrible persecution very similar to that of the Roman empire against the first Christians, with Nagasaki and its "hill of martyrs" again the epicenter.

And yet, the Japanese Catholic community was able to recover from both of these tragedies. After the persecution in the seventeenth century, Christians kept their faith alive by passing it on from parents to children for two centuries, in the absence of bishops, priests, and sacraments. It is recounted that on Good Friday of 1865, ten thousand of these
"kakure kiris(h)itan," hidden Christians, streamed from the villages and presented themselves in Nagasaki to the stunned missionaries who had just recently regained access to Japan.
Remotely reminds me of the people of the West Country in 1549:
We wyll haue the Sacrament hang ouer the hyeghe aulter, and there to be worshypped as it was wount to be...

We wyll haue ... images to be set vp again in euery church, and all other auncient olde Ceremonyes vsed heretofore, by our mother the holy Church.

We wyll not receyue the newe seruyce because it is but lyke a Christmas game, but we wyll haue oure old seruice of Mattens, masse, Euensong and procession in Latten* as it was before.
And this was reacting to Cranmer’s very cautious conservative first go at the Prayer Book! (He didn’t show his true colours until 1552.)

With all due respect to SS. John Fisher, Thomas More and the others I think both stories say more for the second kind of this churchmanship than the first.

*Back then English was as foreign to Cornishmen as Latin: they spoke a now-extinct Celtic language.

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