Nagasaki’s Hidden Christians survive persecution and the atomic bomb



Spanish Jesuit Francisco Xavier brought Christianity to the shores of Kagoshima (Japan) in the year 1549.

His arrival came near the end of a century-long period of national strife and an important turning point in Japanese history, and in the midst of this great social chaos, the Japanese people were ripe for his spiritual message.


Franciscus de Xavier




The Shimabara Rebellion (島原の乱) was an uprising in what is now Nagasaki Prefecture in southwestern Japan lasting from December 17, 1637, to April 15, 1638, during the Edo period (1603〜1868) .

It largely involved peasants, most of them Catholics. It was one of only a handful of instances of serious unrest during the relatively peaceful period of the Tokugawa shogunate’s rule.


In the wake of the Matsukura clan’s construction of a new castle at Shimabara, taxes were drastically raised, which provoked anger from local peasants and ronin (samurai without masters).

Religious persecution of the local Catholics exacerbated the discontent, which turned into open revolt in 1637.

The Tokugawa Shogunate sent a force of over 125,000 troops to suppress the rebels and, after a lengthy siege against the rebels at Hara Castle, defeated them.


In the wake of the rebellion, the Catholic rebel leader Amakusa Shiro was beheaded and the prohibition of Christianity was strictly enforced. Japan’s national seclusion  policy was tightened and official persecution of Christianity  continued until the 1850s.

Following the successful suppression of the rebellion, the daimyo of Shimabara, Matsukura Katsuie, was beheaded for misruling, becoming the only daimyō to be beheaded during the Edo period.


Amakusa Shiro (age 16), led the Shimabara Rebellion, an uprising of Japanese Roman Catholics against the Shogunate.




“Bombed Mary” is the name given to the surviving head of a wooden statue of the Virgin Mary, as it rests today in the Urakami (Nagasaki). The statue’s glass eyes melted away in the blast of the atomic bomb dropped on the city at the end of World War II.





★ Discovering Nagasaki’s secret Christian past

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☆ Nagasaki’s churches

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★ Not a single priest was left in the whole of Japan

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☆ The secret Christians had been underground for over two hundred years

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★ Discovery of Christians

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☆ A prophecy is alive in the hills of Nagasaki

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★ Nagasaki, Japan

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☆ After Shimabara rebellion

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★ The Urakami Cathedral

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