Day 8: Francis, First Missionary to Japan (1549-1551)
Do I find strength in my prayer and in my relationship with Jesus?
During his years in South Asia, Francis visited Malacca in Malaysia on a number of occasions It was there he met and converted his first Japanese. Anjiro made a deep impression on him. Francis wrote to Ignatius, “If all the Japanese are as keen to learn as Anjiro...they must have the most enquiring minds of any people in the lands hitherto discovered.”
Francis arrived in Japan on August 15, 1549, the Feast of the Assumption. After some months working there and living with the family of Anjiro, he wrote to the Jesuits in Goa: “They are the best race yet discovered and I think that among non-Christians their match will not easily be found.”
In comparison with the effects of his mission in South Asia, progress in Japan was slow. Francis had great difficulty with the Japanese language. Much of the time he was alone, suffering the isolation of living in a country, without knowing the local language. The Abbot of a Zen monastery told a later missionary that Francis was unable to explain the Christian teaching, owing to his ignorance of Japanese, but his mere presence, face, character, obvious sanctity, preached better than any words the truth of his message.
After his death, however, until the edict forbidding Christianity in 1614, the Church in Japan flourished. The number of Catholics at the time the persecution began was about 300,000, slightly less than what it is today. Many, too, died as martyrs for the faith during the years of persecution.
- How do I cope with the challenges that I meet in the work assigned to me?
- Do I find strength in my prayer and in my relationship with Jesus?
O most kind and loving saint, in union with you I adore the Divine Majesty. The remembrance of the favours with which God blessed you during life, and of your glory after death, fills me with joy; and I unite with you in offering to God my humble tribute of thanksgiving and of praise.
I implore of you to secure for me, through your powerful intercession and the all important blessing of living and dying in the state of grace. I also beseech you to obtain the favour I ask in this Novena:
but if what I ask is not for the glory of God or for the good of my soul, obtain for me what is most conducive to both.