Japan’s Gold and Silver Star to Card Farina, bridge between Japan and the Vatican

Japan announced its honours for foreigners. The archbishop and librarian emeritus of the Vatican will receive the Order of the Rising Sun-Gold and Silver Star in recognition for his contribution to boosting relations and strengthening friendly ties between Japan and the Holy See.

Vatican City (AsiaNews) - The Japanese government will confer the Gold and Silver Star , one of Japan’s highest honours, on Card Raffaele Farina for his contribution to the friendship between Japan and the Vatican, the Embassy of Japan to the Holy See announced today.

The Vatican's archivist and librarian emeritus worked for many years to boost relations and build friendly ties between Japan and the Holy See.

The prelate's contribution was particularly important in the reorganisation of the historical documents of the Edo period, including those related to the ban on Christianity in the Bungo region collected by Salesian missionary Mario Marega.

The Marega Papers are a collection of about 10,000 documents, which describe the presence and persecution of Japan’s Catholic community, covering a period that goes from the 17th to the 19th century, which Fr Mario Marega brought to the Vatican in the 1940s.

Since then they remained in the Vatican archives until 2010, when they were found by researcher Delio Proverbio.

The documents are written on rice paper, so delicate that it can be touched only with special gloves. Mgr Cesare Pasini, prefect of the Vatican Apostolic Library, considers them "the largest collection of documents of this type".

The Library in 2014 signed a six-year deal with four Japanese historical institutes to translate and catalogue the documents.

The first of the texts is dated 1719, and mentions the arrival of Christianity in Japan in 1549 thanks to the Jesuit missionaries.

One of the papers recorded the visit by four Japanese noblemen to Rome in 1585 to attend the election of Pope Sixtus V as evidence of how much Christianity had spread in the country.

Obviously, many of documents refer to the persecution of the new community under the Shogunate, and describe in detail the martyrdom of the 26 Christians of Nagasaki which led to the banishment of Christianity in 1612.