188 Japanese martyrs beatified at Mass in Nagasaki

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Christian martyrdom is the fullest expression of human freedom and reflects the supreme act of love, said a top Vatican official at a Mass beatifying 188 Japanese martyrs. “It is not the punishment or the torture that creates a martyr,” but rather the fact the person suffered and died for Christ, Cardinal Jose Saraiva Martins, former prefect of the Vatican Congregation for Saints’ Causes, said during the beatification Mass in Nagasaki, Japan, Nov. 24. The 188 17th-century Japanese martyrs were tortured and killed in different cities between 1606 and 1639 after the Japanese government outlawed Christianity. Vatican Radio reported more than 30,000 people attended the ceremony in the city’s baseball stadium to celebrate the beatification of Jesuit Father Peter Kibe Kasui and 187 companions. During the Mass, which was concelebrated by 10 cardinals and bishops, Cardinal Saraiva said martyrs of every age, place and time have all displayed the same dedicated faith in Jesus Christ.

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