On This Day
1597 – A group of early Japanese Christians are killed by the new government of Japan for being seen as a threat to Japanese society.
Kakure Kirishitan (Japanese: 隠れキリシタン, lit. ‘”hidden Christian”‘) is a modern term for a member of the Japanese Catholic Church during the Edo period that went underground after the Shimabara Rebellion in the 1630s.
Kakure Kirishitans are called the “hidden” Christians because they continued to practice Christianity in secret. They worshipped in secret rooms in private homes. As time went on, the figures of the saints and the Virgin Mary were transformed into figurines that looked like the traditional statues of the Buddha and bodhisattvas; depictions of Mary modeled on the Buddhist deity Kannon (Avalokiteśvara), goddess of mercy, became common, and were known as “Maria Kannon”. The prayers were adapted to sound like Buddhist chant, yet retained many untranslated words from Latin, Portuguese, and Spanish. The Bible and other parts of the liturgy were passed down orally, because printed works could be confiscated by authorities. Because of the official expulsion of the Catholic clergy in the 17th century, the Kakure Christian community relied on lay leaders to lead the services.
In some cases, the communities drifted away from Christian teachings. They lost the meaning of the prayers and their religion became a version of the cult of ancestors, in which the ancestors happened to be their Christian martyrs.
Kakure Kirishitan was recognized by Bernard Petitjean, a Catholic priest, when Ōura Church was built in Nagasaki in 1865. Approximately 30,000 secret Christians, some of whom had adopted these new ways of practicing Christianity, came out of hiding when religious freedom was re-established in 1873 after the Meiji Restoration. The Kakure Kirishitan became known as Mukashi Kirishitan (昔キリシタン), or “ancient” Christians, and emerged not only from traditional Christian areas in Kyushu, but also from other rural areas of Japan.
The majority of Kakure Kirishitan rejoined the Catholic Church after renouncing unorthodox, syncretic practices. Some Kakure Kirishitan did not rejoin the Catholic Church, and became known as the Hanare Kirishitan (離れキリシタン, separated Christians). Hanare Kirishitan are now primarily found in Urakami and on the Gotō Islands.
Born On This Day
1903 – Joan Whitney Payson, American businesswoman and philanthropist (d. 1975)
Joan Whitney Payson (February 5, 1903 – October 4, 1975) was an American heiress, businesswoman, philanthropist, patron of the arts and art collector, and a member of the prominent Whitney family. She was also co-founder and majority owner of Major League Baseball’s New York Mets baseball franchise, and was the first woman to own a major-league team in North America without inheriting it.
Alice E. Mayhew (June 14, 1932 – February 4, 2020) was an American editor who was vice president and editorial director for Simon & Schuster. Mayhew edited many notable authors, which include Bob Woodward, President Jimmy Carter, Doris Kearns Goodwin, David Brooks, and Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Mayhew was known for publishing books about Washington, D.C., such as All the President’s Men by Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein using a genre which is known as a political narrative, a subgenre of creative nonfiction.
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