Timeline of Christians in Japan

1549 — Francis Xavier, Cosme de Torres, and Juan Fernandez arrive in Kagoshima on Aug 15. [Nota Bene: it was not in Nagasaki.] (Yajiro, is the first Japanese Catholic whom Francis Xavier met and baptized in Malacca.) While in Kagoshima, 100 were baptized during the first one year. In two years, 700 were baptised.

1550 — Francis Xavier arrives in Hirado in Sept. Anthony Kimura, grandfather of Sebastian is baptized. Ban against Christians in Shimazu.

1551 — Saint Francis Xavier goes to Kyoto, returns to Yamaguchi, then goes to Funai. When Saint Francis Xavier left Japan, there were 2000 faithful. Cosme de Torres and Juan Fernandez remain in Japan.

1560's— Omura Sumitada is baptized as the first Catholic Daimyo (Feudal Lord) He took the name Bartolomeo. (Between 1563 and 1620 eighty-six Daimyo were officially baptized.) The Church grows rapidly.

1567 — First martyrs in Japan. Two in Hirado, and then later also two more martyrs.

1575 — 100,000 Catholics in Japan

1579 — The Great Visitor Fr. Alexander Valignano arrives in Japan. (Luis Frois introduces Alexander Valignano to Nobunaga in Kyoto.)

1582 — Oda Nobunaga (protector for Catholics) is assassinated by Akechi Mitsuhide. Toyotomi Hideyoshi assumes authority. Delegation of four set out for Europe with Valignano.

1586 — Hideyoshi gives Gaspar Coelho land near Osaka Castle. Huge Earthquake.

1587 — Hideyoshi banned Christianity on July 24. More than 200,000 Catholics

1590 — Valignano and four envoys arrived in Nagasaki (Valignano's second visit)

1591 — Valignano (as ambassador of India), four envoys & Rodriguez meet Hideyoshi. Christian printing press begins

1593 — Franciscan Fr. Peter Baptist arrives in Japan as Philippine ambassador, meets Hideyoshi.

1596 — Spanish ship San Felipe shipwrecks, pilot's lies cause trouble Huge earthquake.

1597 — Twenty-six crucified on Feb 5 at Nishizaka (Nagasaki). Nishizaka martyrdom witnessed by Luis Frois.

1598 — Hideyoshi dies.

1599 — 40,000 were baptized during Feb - Oct. Mitsunari Ishida, Yukinaga Konishi protected them.

1600 — Battle of Sekigahara, Tokugawa Ieyasu assumes authority. Mitsunari Ishida was defeated. Konishi Yukinaga beheaded in Kyoto. Ieyasu tolerates Christians.

1603 — Six martyred in Dec. in Yatsuhiro (Kumamoto).

1605 — Motonao Kumagai martyred in Aug. together with his 100 subjects in Hagi (Yamaguchi).

1610 — Christian Daimyo Arima Harunobu obliged to commit suicide. Dutch Commercial ships arrive for first time. Trade without missionary.

1612 — Christianity banned in Edo. Rodriguez is banned from Japan, exiled to China.

1613 — Mission even to Hokkaido (First baptisms in Hokkaido by a Japanese layman). 370,000 Catholics. Hidetada destroys Edo Church. Fr. Luis Sotelo illegally builds new church in Asakusa. 27 Catholics and Fr.Sotelo are arrested in Edo, put into Kodenmacho prison. 22 martyred in Asakusa-Torigoe. Eight martyred on Oct 7 in Arima (Nagasaki).

1614 — Christianity banned in whole country. All churches in Kyoto and Nagasaki destroyed. Many Christians move to Hirosaki (Aomori) for protection by Christian Daimyo Tsugaru Nobuhira. 72 Jesuits including Diego Carvalho deported to Macao. Takayama Ukon and 300 Catholics expelled on Nov 8.

1616 — Tokugawa Ieyasu dies. Anti-Christian policy fortified.

1618 — Government offers reward money for turning in hiding missionaries. Juan Santamarta martyred on Aug 16 in Kyoto. Juan of Saint Dominic martyred on March 19 in Suzuta, Omura (Nagasaki). Charles Spinola arrested and imprisoned in Nagasaki. Cristovao Ferreira takes over Spinola's work as Provincial Treasurer.

1619 — Fifty-two martyred on Oct 6 in Kyoto. Kagayama Hayato martyred on Oct 15 in Kokura (Fukuoka). Two martyred on Oct 15 in Hiji (Oita). Five martyred on Nov 18 on Nishizaka (Nagasaki). Eleven martyred on Nov 27 in Nagasaki.

1621 — Pope Paul V sends letters addressed to Catholics in Japan. Catholics reply to the Pope.

1622 — Augustinus Ota martyred on Aug 10 in Ikinoshima (Nagasaki). Fifteen martyred on Aug 19 in Nagasaki. Fifty-two martyred on Sept 10 on Nishizaka (Nagasaki) — including Charles Spinola and Sebastian Kimura (Japanese first Catholic priest). Three martyred on Sept 11 on Nishizaka (Nagasaki). Six martyred on Sept 12 in Omura (Nagasaki). Giovanni Battista Costanzo martyred on Sept 15 in Tabira (Nagasaki). Four martyred on Nov 1 in Shimabara (Nagasaki). Canonization of Francis Xavier.

1623 — Fifty burned at the stake at Fuda No Tsuji in Edo on Dec 4 — including Jerome de Angelis, Francis Galvez, Simon Enpo and John Hara Mondo. 37 more executed at Fuda no Tsuji in late Dec. In this year 400 to 500 martyred in Edo (Tokyo).

1624 — Luis Sotelo burned at the stake in Omura Hokobaru (Nagasaki). Two martyred in Feb in Hiroshima Diego Carvalho and 41 others martyred on Feb 22 in Sendai and Akita Joachim Kuroemon martyred on March 8 in Hiroshima Five martyred on Aug 24 in Omura (Nagasaki) Caius martyred on Nov 15 in Nagasaki (As much as recorded, at least 166 martyrdoms).

1627 — Twelve branded and burned on Feb 8 in Nagasaki Three Uchibori brothers martyred on Feb 21 in Ariake Sea (Nagasaki). Sixteen martyred on Feb 28 on Mt. Unzen (Nagasaki) Ten martyred on May 17 on Mt. Unzen (Nagasaki). Three martyred on July 29 in Omura (Nagasaki). Martinez Gomez Tozaemon martyred on Aug 1 in Nagasaki Fourteen martyred on Aug 16 in Nagasaki. Twenty-three martyred on Aug 17 in Nagasaki. Three martyred on Sept 7 in Nagasaki. Three high ranking Kirishitan deported on Oct 26 to Macao.

1628 — Fumie introduced, continues until 1858. Twenty-one martyred on Sept 8 in Nagasaki. Jacob Hayashida martyred on Sept 10 in Nagasaki. Three martyred on Sept 16 on Nishizaka (Nagasaki). Michael Nakashima Saburoemon martyred on Dec 25 in Unzen (Nagasaki).

1631 — First Fumie at Unzen Hell.

1632 — Six martyred on Sept 3 on Nishizaka (Nagasaki). Unzen Hell Torture stopped.

1633 — Christavao Ferreira apostatized in the pit, becomes Suwano Chuan. Michael the chemist martyred on July 28 on Nishizaka (Nagasaki). Nicolao Keian martyred on July 31 on Nishizaka (Nagasaki). Two martyred on Aug 14 on Nishizaka (Nagasaki). Two martyred on Aug 15 on Nishizaka (Nagasaki). Two martyred on Aug 17 on Nishizaka (Nagasaki). Matthaeus of the Rosary martyred on Oct 19 on Nishizaka (Nagasaki). Lucas of the Holy Spirit martyred on Oct 20 on Nishizaka (Nagasaki). Julian Nakaura martyred on Oct 21 on Nishizaka (Nagasaki).

1636 — Fifteen martyred on Jan 30 in Hanaokayama (Kumamoto). Fr. Diogo Yuki Ryousetsu martyred in Osaka. 287 Japanese and mixed race Christians expelled to Mexico.

1638 — End of Shimabara rebellion (about 35,000 Christians die). More than 4000 Catholics thrown into sea. Antonio Gonzalez martyred on Sept 24 on Nishizaka (Nagasaki). Five martyred on Sept 29 on Nishizaka (Nagasaki). Fr. Thomas Kintsuba Jihyoe martyred on Nov 6 on Nishizaka (Nagasaki).

1639 — Portuguese ships banned from Japanese ports. Fr. Peter Kasui Kibe martyred in July in Edo. Two Franciscans burned at the stake in Shinagawa (Edo, Tokyo). 106 beheaded in Ezo (Hokkaido).

1640 — Inoue Masashige Chikugo No Kami becomes main Christian enquirer.

1644 — Fr. Mancio Konishi, last remaining priest in Japan martyred.

1660's — Fumie is practised all over Japan.

1687 — Perfectioning the persecuting system.

1703 — Earthquake in Tokyo area.

1707 — Eruption of Mt Fuji.

1708 — Fr. Giovanni Battista Sidotti caught in Yakushima (Kagoshima) on Oct 11.

1714 — Fr. Giovanni Battista Sidotti martyred, age 46.

1732 — Famine.

1771 — Earthquake in Yaeyama.

1782–88 — Famine.

1791 — 1st Discovery of Crypto-Christians in Urakami.

1833–39 — Famine

1842 — 2nd Discovery of Crypto-Christians in Urakami.

1853 — Matthew Perry arrives July 8 at Uraga Port with four Black Ships.

1854-55 — Earthquakes.

1856 — 3rd Discovery of Crypto-Christians in Urakami.

1856 — Treaty signed with USA. Fumie system abolished.

1859 — Nagasaki port opens to foreign ships Fr. Girard, MEP builds first Catholic Church dedicated to Sacred Heart of Jesus.

1863 — Fr. Bernard Petitjean starts building a Church in Nagasaki.

1865 — Oura Catholic Church dedicated to 26 Japanese Martyrs.

1865 — Fr. Bernard Petitjean finds Catholics at Oura Church in Nagasaki.

1867 — 4th Discovery of Crypto-Christians in Urakami. All Urakami 3394 Catholics villagers exiled. Emperor Meiji succeeds to the throne, age 12 Power restored to the Emperor Sebastian Kimura and 204 martyrs beatified by Pius IX on July 7.

1868 — Our Lady appeared to the exiled Catholics in Tsuwano. Meiji Era starts. Emperor moves to Tokyo.

1873 — Anti-Catholic Signboards removed on February 18, Christianity tolerated after 260 years

1889 — The Article 28 of the Meiji Constitution of Japan, legalizes freedom of religion though with conditions.

1891 — Catholic Church establishes Hierarchy in Japan.

Twenty-six Martyrs of Nagasaki

Unzen Hell

The discovery of hidden Christians in Japan


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Francis Xavier arrive in Kagoshima on Aug 15, 1549

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Our Lady appeared to the exiled Catholics in Tsuwano

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Joachim of Goto

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Paul Miki

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Modoribashi Kyoto