We have been hearing from the martyrs a lot recently. On Friday, we remembered Saint Blaise, a bishop and martyr who is the patron saint of those with illnesses, specifically of the throat. Yesterday, if it had not been a Sunday, we would have remembered Saint Agatha, a virgin and martyr who was put to death in the third century. Today we remember Saint Paul Miki and his 25 companions – religious, lay people, catechists, and even children – who were crucified on a hill in Nagasaki in the late sixteenth century.
Saint Paul Miki wrote, in his final moments: “The sentence of judgment says these men came to Japan from the Philippines, but I did not come from any other country. I am a true Japanese. The only reason for my being killed is that I have taught the doctrine of Christ. I certainly did teach the doctrine of Christ. I thank God it is for this reason I die. I believe that I am telling only the truth before I die. I know you believe me and I want to say to you all once again: Ask Christ to help you to become happy. I obey Christ. After Christ’s example I forgive my persecutors. I do not hate them. I ask God to have pity on all, and I hope my blood will fall on my fellow men as a fruitful rain.”
The courageous deaths of Saint Paul Miki, his companions, and all the other martyrs we have brought to memory in these past days recalls the sacrifice that Christ made for us. Their deaths point the way to our Lord, especially the deaths of Paul Miki and his companions, who like their Lord, were put to death on crosses. May their courage and wisdom inspire us to live and die with faith in God’s mercy, and give us the grace to live our lives in witness to God’s love and Truth.