Martyrdom Through the Ages: From Ancient Japan to Today

We are all lucky because we do not have to go through the same form of persecution that some Japanese Christians had to endure long ago. Back in ancient Japan, Christian believers were tortured and killed just because of their faith in God. It surprised me to read about martyrdom through the ages because it has been so vicious and cruel. When St. Francis Xavier went to Japan, he planted the seed of Christianity well into the minds and hearts of Japanese people. So well in fact, that it grew to great numbers. The believers increased to two hundred thousand strong and that alarmed the authorities. Deviating from the religion that they were used to, these numbers were seen as a threat. Many were punished and tortured to death.

Today we are faced with a different kinds of torture. The media, the people, and the ways of the community are constantly enticing us to deviate from the teachings of Christianity. We may not be physically tortured but we are constantly tried. We do not need to run away from soldiers, but we need to keep away from the things that break our souls and weaken our faith. Read more from an inspiring blog post featured on Crisis Magazine called Lessons Drawn From The Japanese Martyrs. Of course, martyrdom has existed since even earlier than ancient Japan. However, my main point was to show that martyrdom has existed for a long time, and despite its changing form it will exist forever.

Two Saints Should Be Remembered Today

This posting from A Catholic View is meant to explain to not so well known patron saints, and to remind us all to keep in mind that today is both of their feast days. Both Pontian and Hippolytus were martyred for their Christian faith. This is a sad thing to think about, but the two saints need to be remembered for doing the right thing even though it cost them their lives. So if you have a minute today, take the the time to say a little prayer to both Saint Pontian and Saint Hippolytus.

“The Saints of the Day for August 13 are Sts. Pontian and Hippolytus.

As kind as Severus might have been to the Christians, his successor Maximus Thrax persecuted them. Although Maximus was not a religious man himself, he despised Severus and intended to reverse any attitude to which Severus might have been disposed. He therefore decreed that leaders of the Church be singled out and banished to the labor mines of Sardinia, the famous “Island of Death.”

Pontian, a Roman and son of Calpurnius, had enjoyed a peaceful reign over the Roman Church during Severus’ time, but soon found himself among the first victims of this new emperor. Rounded up with the antipope Hippolytus, Pontian was deported to the labor mines. Since deportation was a life sentence which few survived, Pontian felt obligated to abdicate so that a successor might quickly preside over the Holy See. He is the first pope known to have abdicated.

While imprisoned, Hippolytus reconciled his differences with Pontian and even ordered his followers to bring themselves back to the Church. Before he succumbed to the harsh treatment of the mines, Hippolytus became a true confessor of Christ.

Pontian, in the mines only two months, was brutally beaten to death by his jailers. His body, with that of Hippolytus, was returned to Rome approximately a year later, during the pontificate of Fabian. He was buried in the cemetery of Calixtus and was rightfully honored by the Church as a martyr.” – “Optional Memorial of Saint Pontian, Pope and Martyr and Hippolytus, Priest and Martyr”, A Catholic View

Father Stanley Rother May be Canonized a Saint

“The archdiocesan phase of Fr. Stanley Rother’s cause for canonization came to a close in a Mass this week at the Cathedral of Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Oklahoma City. The local archbishop expressed his conviction during the homily that the missionary is both a martyr and a saint.

Fr. Rother spent 13 years in Guatemala as a parish priest in Santiago Atitlan, a small town caught up in the country’s civil war in the 1970s and 80s. Aware that his life was in danger he returned to Oklahoma in Jan. 1981, but went back to Guatemala months later after recognizing that his heart was with the people.

He was assassinated on July 28, 1981 by three men who broke into the mission rectory.

Fr. Rother’s cause for canonization was initiated in Oct. 2006 when Archbishop of Oklahoma City, Most Rev. Eusebius J. Beltran, commissioned a committee to collect information about his life and the circumstances that led to his death. He also contracted a canon lawyer, Dr. Andrea Ambrosi, to act as postulator in Rome.

To make beatification possible, the postulator must now prove to the Vatican congregation for saints that Fr. Rother was killed solely for his faith, that his death was violent and that he accepted such a death for the faith.” – “Canonization cause for Murdered Oklahoma Priest Moves to Rome”, Catholic News Agency

After reading this over on Catholic News Agency, there is no doubt in my mind that Father Rother should be canonized. He gave all that he had to Guatemala and its people and he died trying to help them and their faith as Christians. Hopefully whoever makes the final decision on this matter sees eye to eye with me. No matter what I will forever remember Father Rother as a great man and a saint in my heart even if the attempts to have him canonized fail. He deserves respect from everybody, and we could all take a lesson away from the great deeds Father Rother did while he was alive.

The Saint of the Day – July 12th

“St. Ignatius Delgado was a Spanish missionary and is now one of the martyrs of Vietnam.

He was born in Villafeliche, Spain, in 1761. He was raised in a pious family, became a Dominican priest and served as a missionary to Vietnam for almost 50 years.

He was named coadjutor vicar-apostolic at East Tonkin, Vietnam. However, government-sanctioned persecution of Christians began soon after. He was arrested, locked in a cage put on public display for ridicule and abuse, and left to die. He died of hunger and exposure in 1838.

The martyr was canonized by Pope John Paul II in 1988.” – “St. Ignatius Delgado”, A Catholic View

I choose to share this great post from A Catholic View with you all today because today is Saint Ignatius’ feast day. We should all say a quick prayer to Saint Ignatius today, and remember that the saint suffered for his faith terribly as you have just read. He is also remembered on November 24th each year with the other martyrs who lost their lives in Vietnam. If you are having unjust sufferings forced upon you than a prayer to Saint Ignatius for strength and help to do the right thing might be in order. Keep in mind Saint Ignatius Delgado today, as well as Saint John Gualbert.