26 Martyrs of Japan

The Twenty-Six Martyrs of Japan (Japanese: 日本二十六聖人, Hepburn: Nihon Nijūroku Seijin) were a group of Catholics who were executed by crucifixion on February 5, 1597, in Nagasaki, Japan. Their martyrdom is especially significant in the history of the Catholic Church in Japan.

26 Martyrs of Japan
Martyrs
Died5 February 1597
Nagasaki, Japan
Venerated inCatholic Church
Anglican Church
Lutheran Church
Beatified14 September 1627, Vatican City by Pope Urban VIII
Canonized8 June 1862 by Pope Pius IX
Feast6 February
AttributesMartyr's palm
Cross
PatronageJapan
Persecuted Christians

A promising beginning to Catholic missions in Japan – with perhaps as many as 300,000 Catholics by the end of the 16th century – met complications from competition between the missionary groups, political difficulty between Portugal and Spain and factions within the government of Japan. Christianity was suppressed and it was during this time that the 26 martyrs were executed. By 1630, Catholicism had been driven underground. When Christian missionaries returned to Japan 250 years later, they found a community of "hidden Catholics" that had survived underground.