The Glorious Martyrdom of the Cross. The Franciscans and the Japanese Persecutions of 1597.

Abstract : The Franciscan martyrdom of 1597 was not an unprecedented event in the young history of Japanese Christianity, as a first wave of persecutions occurred ten years earlier. But the echo it found in Asia, America and Europe, was unparalleled. This article aims to account for Franciscan success in giving worldwide publicity to what could otherwise be seen as a local event of limited consequence. The martyrdom of 1597 finds it roots in a context of tensions between Christians and Buddhists, who formed an overwhelming majority in Japan. However, the persecu-tions had more to do with the suppression of troubles than with theological considerations. But this political aspect is hardly apparent in Franciscan sources, which were mostly concerned with describing the martyrdom. From the start, the Franciscans were keen to actively circulate witnesses' accounts of the martyrdom in Mexico and in Europe. What also helped the event achieve worldwide publicity was that the Franciscans blamed the Jesuits for the outbreak of persecutions. The martyrdom indeed became the object of a dispute between religious orders, but with political ramifications, as the Spanish in the Philippines supported the Franciscans while the Jesuits were closely dependent on the Portuguese in Macao.
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Helene Vu Thanh. The Glorious Martyrdom of the Cross. The Franciscans and the Japanese Persecutions of 1597.. Culture & History Digital Journal, 2017, 6 (1), pp.5 - 2253. ⟨10.3989/chdj.2017.005⟩. ⟨halshs-01827521⟩

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