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» 01/29/2013
JAPAN
For the first time, Japan to ask UNESCO to honour Christian sites
Nagasaki and Kumamoto prefectures ask Culture Minister Hakubun Shimomura to submit a list of 13 Christian locations as World Heritage Sites, including Oura Cathedral, Pius IX's 'miracle of the Orient', and various places where Christians met martyrdom. Evangelisation in Japan was subjected to one of the harshest repressions in history.

Nagasaki (AsiaNews) - For the first time in the country's history, the Japanese government plans to recommend a group of Christian locations for inclusion in the list of UNESCO World Heritage sites. Nagasaki and Kumamoto prefectures on Tuesday submitted a draft proposal to Culture minister Hakubun Shimomura with 13 sites for consideration by the United Nations agency, which is expected to begin deliberating next year if it receives a recommendation by September.

The 13 sites include Nagasaki's Oura Cathedral, built by two French missionaries from the Société des Missions Étrangères in 1864 to honour 26 Christian martyrs, nine European and 16 Japanese crucified in 1597 on the order of Toyotomi Hideyoshi. The building itself was declared a 'national treasure' in 1933, the first Western-styled structure to be so recognised.

After its inauguration, people from the village of Urakami asked Fr Petitjean, one of the two missionaries who built the church, if they could go inside to "greet Mary". The Frenchman thus discovered that they were Kakure Kirishitans, descendants of the first Japanese Christians who went underground as a result of imperial persecution.

Tens of thousands of underground Christians followed this first group, visiting the cathedral and openly practicing their Christian faith. Told about it, Pope Pius IX called the event "a miracle of the Orient".

In addition to the cathedral, local authorities also other sites recognised, including places where Japanese Christians were martyred and some catacombs where they sought refuge during the period of persecution.

Nagasaki was the point of entry for Japan's evangelisation. Early Christians were eventually forced to go underground for about 250 years after the Tokugawa shogunate imposed a ban.


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See also
07/10/2004 Unesco
Wonders of nature and Asian art are now World Heritage sites
by Monica Romano
06/24/2013 UNESCO - CHINA
With its Yunnan's rice fields and Tianshan Mountains, China climbs UNESCO ranking
01/03/2012 CHINA
Economic development destroying Chinese history
07/02/2012 PALESTINE – ISREAL
Church of the Nativity in UNESCO; Mount Tabor a "national park". It's time to save the Holy Places
by Joshua Lapide
02/08/2011 PALESTINE
Palestinians candidate Bethlehem as World Heritage Site

Editor's choices
IRAQ-ITALY
"Adopt a Christian from Mosul," the thanks of the Patriarch Louis Sako; the concerns of the Bishop of Kurdistan
by Bernardo CervelleraThe head of the Chaldean Church is grateful for the AsiaNews campaign and hopes that "this chain of solidarity will reach far and wide”. Helping refugees to remain in Iraq. But many want to flee abroad. The bishop of Amadiyah where thousands of displaced people have found haven in churches and homes: We also help the Arabs (Muslims), and Yazidis, for free and without looking at our confessional differences.
ITALY - IRAQ
"Adopt a Christian from Mosul" to respond directly to Iraq's emergencyAsiaNews is launching a fundraiser to support Christians targeted by the Islamic State, thus responding to a request by the Patriarch of Baghdad and Pope Francis's urgent appeal "to guarantee all necessary assistance - especially the most urgently needed aid - to the great multitude of people who have been driven from their homes, whose fate depends entirely on the solidarity of others." More than 100,000 people have been forced to flee their homes leaving everything behind and now have nothing to live on. To help them, five euros a day are enough. The funds raised will be sent to the Patriarchate of Baghdad, which will distribute them according to the needs of each family.
CHINA - VATICAN
Wenzhou bishop and priests slam government's campaign against crosses and churches in Zhejiang
by Eugenia ZhangFor Mgr Vincent Zhu Weifang, from the official Church, the campaign of destruction is increasing social instability. It is real persecution against the Christian faith. The bishop apologises for failing to intervene sooner. He was hoping that the campaign would end quickly. Catholics and Protestants suffer injuries as they attempt to defend their sacred buildings. For priests in Wenzhou, the campaign is unfair and touches buildings that have all the right papers. Such "stupid acts" by the government are undermining social harmony.

Dossier
by Giulio Aleni / (a cura di) Gianni Criveller
pp. 176
by Lazzarotto Angelo S.
pp. 528
by Bernardo Cervellera
pp. 240
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