Multinational Coalition Invades Japan, 1643

In the summer of 1643, a multinational coalition of Jesuit missionaries arrived in fiercely anti-Catholic Tokugawa Japan, just three months after another group of nine had been tortured to death in Nagasaki.

The leader of the second group was the Jesuit Pedro Marquez (1575-1657), born at Mouram, in the archbishopric of Evora, Portugal. After his training and admission into the Society of Jesus at the age of seventeen, we find him in 1627 in Tonkin and in 1632 on the island of Hainan. In 1636, he was in Macao, where he cosigned the order expelling [infamous Jesuit renegade Christovão] Ferreira from the Society for his apostasy. At the time of Marquez’ capture, he was sixty-eight years old and had just received his appointment as Provincial, or head of the Roman Catholic Church in Japan.

His three European companions were: Alonzo de Arroyo (1592-1644), fifty-one years old, from Malaga in Andalusia, doctor of philosophy and former priest of the Spanish settlement of Cavite in the Philippines, where he had arrived in 1621; Francisco Cassola (1603-1644), forty years old, a mathematician and astronomer who had been in Manila in 1636 with Mastrilli, later to become famous as a martyr in Japan; and Giuseppe Chiara (1603-1685), an Italian, also forty years old and recently coming from Manila as well. These four Jesuits were accompanied by six Asian converts: one lay brother (iruman) and five supporters (dojuku). The lay brother was Andreas Vieyra (1601-1678), forty-two years old, who had been born in Mogi and brought up in Nagasaki. He was later named Nampo, and had been educated in Macao and Manila. The supporters included two Japanese men: one from Imabashi Itchome in Osaka, known to the Europeans as Julius and to the Japanese as Shiro’emon, fifty-one years old; and one from Mototsuchimikado machi in Kamikyo of Kyoto, known as Kassian and Mata’emon, also fifty-one years old. These three men had left Japan in the early 1620s and were coming home, pathetically, to certain torture and death.

Then there was Lorenzo Pinto, thirty-two years old, whose father was Chinese and whose mother was of mixed Japanese and Portuguese descent. Even though his parents lived in Macao, Pinto had many friends and connections in Nagasaki. The last two supporters were a twenty-year-old Chinese man from Canton, called Juan and later Saburozaemon, and a seventeen-year-old Vietnamese man from Tonkin, known as Donatus or Nikan. These men were the last of the group to die, in 1697 and 1700 respectively.

The captives freely confessed they had come to Japan to preach Christianity, or as the Japanese put it: “to spread the Evil Doctrine in order to snatch away [authority in] the country of Japan.” They had disguised themselves as Japanese because the shogun had forbidden foreign priests to proselytize. Nevertheless, they were put to the water torture to make sure they were holding nothing back.

SOURCE: Prisoners from Nambu: Reality and Make-Believe in Seventeenth-Century Japanese Diplomacy, by Reinier H. Hesselink (U. Hawai‘i Press, 2002), pp. 51-53

I’m surprised there wasn’t at least one Irishman in the group.

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