09/16/2017, 10.44
JAPAN
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Historical discovery: Miguel Chijiwa, a young Japanese convert, did not recant

He was one of the four young "ambassadors" who left for Europe in 1582. They returned in 1590 to a more "suspicious" Japan towards Christians. Rosary beads found in his grave. A story close to the movie "Silence" by Martin Scorsese.

Tokyo (AsiaNews / Agencies) - Contrary to what has so far been believed, Miguel Chijiwa, one of the four young men of the Japanese expedition, sent to Europe in 1582, did not abandon the Christian faith. Renewed interest in his life was sparked by is the revelation in his graveyard of a rosary, or 59 "glass beads" of five different colors, between 2 and 5 mm in diameter with small holes inside.

Some of these "beads" are of European origin. In addition, a 2,6 cm long semicircular glass plate was found, most likely the lid of a reliquary. The discovery was made public on September 8 by members of the Disposal Committee, consisting of Chijiwa descendants and history specialists and enthusiasts.

Chijiwa had left with three other young people for Europe for an expedition by Alessandro Valignano, a Jesuit missionary for the "Indies of the East". Everyone under the age of 15, the three "ambassadors" represented three Christian feudal lords (daimyō) of Kyushu. They accompanied the Portuguese Jesuit Diogo de Masquita. Returning to Japan in 1590, the four joined the Jesuit order. On their return, the civil war (sengoku), which had uprooted the country for more than 100 years, was ending, leaving a figure in power whose suspicious attitude towards Christianity foretold the persecution that would follow. In 1587, in fact, the new imperial regent Toyotomi Hideyoshi had issued an edict ordering the Jesuits to leave Japan. Although never put in place, the order represented the signal of the Japanese authorities' view that Christians represented a political threat.

Until now, it was believed that Chijiwa was the only one to have recanted, while the other three had continued to serve the Christian mission faithfully. The recent discovery calls into question this historical assumption.

The question of recanting the faith in Japan during the centuries of Christian persecution is a topic highlighted by Martin Scorsese's movie "Silence". As mentioned in AsiaNews's review of the film, the truth is that many Christians did not really give up on the faith. And this last discovery confirms it.

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