The Twenty-Six Martyrs Museum and Monument – Nagasaki, Japan
The Twenty-Six Martyrs Museum and Monument were built on Nishizaka Hill in June 1962 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the canonization of the Christians executed on the site on February 5, 1597. The 26 people, a mixture of native Japanese Christians and European priests (20 Japanese, four Spaniards, one Mexican and one Indian) had been arrested in Kyoto and Osaka on the order of Toyotomi Hideyoshi, the national ruler, for preaching Christianity. They were imprisoned, then later marched through the snow to Nagasaki, so that their execution might serve as a deterrent to Nagasaki’s large Christian population. Hung up on 26 crosses with chains and ropes, the Christians were lanced to death in front of a large crowd on Nishizaka Hill. St Paul Miki is said to have preached to the crowd from his cross. The main theme inherent in both the museum and monument is “The Way to Nagasaki” symbolizing not only the physical trek to Nagasaki but also the Christian spirit of the martyrs.