Nagasaki / Nagasaki Pilgrimage1 Sites related to the martyrdom of Saint Lorenzo Ruiz

Nagasaki Pilgrimage 1.  Sites related to the martyrdom of Saint Lorenzo Ruiz

From towards the end of the 16th century until the present day, Nagasaki has been the main centre of Christianity in Japan. Pilgrims to Nagasaki Prefecture can trace the history of Christianity's development in Japan, from the time of the Jesuit missionary Francis Xavier's arrival in Hirado (1550) right through until the miraculous discovery of Hidden Christians at Oura Cathedral in 1865. Pilgrims can witness how, in the wake of Xavier's arrival, Christianity flourished across the Nagasaki region, as well as how Hidden Christians passed on their Catholic faith in secret amid severe persecution and oppression during the 250 year long ban on Christianity in Japan.

Monument Commemorating the 26 Martyrs(or Saints) of Japan (Nishizaka Park)

Monument Commemorating the 26 Martyrs(or Saints) of Japan (Nishizaka Park)

On Nishizaka hill in Nagasaki, at least 400 Christians are known to have been martyred for their Christian faith. The first Christians to be martyred here were the 26 saints of Japan, and among the later martyrs was Saint Lorenzo Ruiz, the first Filipino Christian martyr.

The 26 saints of Japan were crucified here in the year 1597. They included missionaries from Spain, Portugal and Mexico, as well as Japanese Christians (including three children). They were crucified on this hill at the request Portuguese residents in Nagasaki at the time, who did not wish them to be executed in the same place that common criminals usually were. In his record of the event, the Jesuit missionary Luis Frois wrote that the hill resembled Golgotha (where Christ was crucified) because it had paths leading up it on either side.

After the end of the Second World War, as Nagasaki was rebuilt from the ruins of the atomic bomb, a park was made on Nishizaka hill, and in 1956 the hill was formally designated as an historical landmark by Nagasaki Prefecture. It had already been designated by Pope Pius XII as an official Catholic pilgrimage site in 1950.

On the hundredth anniversary of the canonisation of the 26 martyrs of Japan in Rome, a life-sized bronze sculpture of the 26 martyrs and an accompanying museum were built. Both were visited by Pope John Paul II during his visit to Japan in 1981.

Location7-8 Nishizaka Town, Nagasaki City, Nagasaki Prefecture Google Maps
Admission feeFree
Special noticesThe park where the monument stands is always open. Please see below for information regarding the 26 Martyrs Museum (located just behind the monument).
Mass informationIt is possible to receive permission to hold Mass in St. Philip's Church (adjacent to the park).
Facility informationClick here
AccessClick here

The Twenty Six Martyrs Museum

The Twenty Six Martyrs Museum

The museum introduces visitors to the arrival of Christianity in Japan, the time of its initial flourishing, the long period during which Christianity was severely banned, as well as to the subsequent resurrection of Christianity in Japan in the mid-19th century. Outside there is a statue of Saint Lorenzo Ruiz donated by Cardinal Jaime Sin of the Philippines, and among the exhibits on display inside is a statue of the Christian samurai Takayama Ukon (who is soon set to be beatified).

Location7-8 Nishizaka Town, Nagasaki City, Nagasaki Prefecture Google Maps
Email addressmartyrs@hotmail.com
Opening hours9.00am-5.00pm
Periods of closureNew year holidays
Admission fee500 yen (400 yen per person for groups of over 20), high school students 300 yen (200 yen), elementary students 150 yen (100 yen)
Special noticesPhotography inside the museum is normally forbidden.
Further informationClick here

Saint Philip's Church (Nishizaka Church)

Saint Philip's Church (Nishizaka Church)

The church, along with the adjacent museum, was built in 1962. Both buildings were designed by the Japanese architect Kenji Imai. The church overlooks the spot where the 26 martyrs of Japan were crucified. Its patron saint is Saint Philip of Jesus, one of the 26 martyrs and the first ever Mexican Christian martyr. From April 2002, the Archdiocese of Nagasaki designated Nishizaka as a place of pilgrimage, and in 2012 the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Japan designated it as a national pilgrimage site.

Location7-8 Nishizaka Town, Nagasaki City, Nagasaki Prefecture Google Maps
Mass applicationFor enquiries regarding the use of St. Philip's Church, please contact the Jesuits in charge : +81-95-822-6000
Email addressmartyrs@hotmail.com
Admission feeFree * There is an offertory box inside the church for voluntary donations
Special noticesThe church is generally open during the day as a place of prayer. Please refrain from taking photos
Mass information Monday-Friday: 6am (Japanese)
Saturday: 6:00am (Japanese), 6:00pm (Spanish)
Sunday: 11:00am (Japanese), 12:30pm (English), 6:00pm (Japanese)
* Confessions are available before some Masses and upon request
* Please be aware that on certain occasions Mass times are subject to change
Further informationClick here

Nakamachi Church

Nakamachi Church

Nakamachi Church is dedicated to Saint Thomas Nishi and his 15 companions (among whom was Saint Lorenzo Ruiz of the Philippines). It is a five minute walk from Nishizaka. In 2015, as part of a set of events held to mark the 150th anniversary of the discovery of the Hidden Christians of Japan, statues of these 16 martyrs were built in the Japanese garden to the side of the church. On August 9th 1945, fires caused by the atomic bombing reduced the majority of the church to ruins, leaving only the spire and the outer wall still standing. In October 1951 the church was rebuilt incorporating the original spire and outer wall, and since then it has retained this form.

Location1-13 Nakamachi Town, Nagasaki City, Nagasaki Prefecture Google Maps
Mass applicationFor enquiries regarding the use of Nakamachi Church, please contact the Hidden Christian Sites in the Nagasaki Region Information Centre :ch-info@kyoukaigun.jp
Opening hours9.00am-5.00pm
* 1)At times when a Mass or the other religious ceremony is being held, you may not be able to walk around the church freely. 2)Please note that there may sometimes be occasions when the church is closed. When you are inside the church, please remain quiet and act with consideration for those who worship here.
Admission feeFree * There is an offertory box inside the church for voluntary donations
Special notices
  • As places of prayer, many of Nagasaki's churches are, under normal circumstances, open. However, for management reasons some churches may be locked.
  • The main door at the front of the church is principally for use when a Mass is being held. Before entering the church, please kindly remove your shoes and place them in the shoe rack provided. Please also remove your hat. Once inside, visitors are politely requested to remain quiet and respect the church's spiritual atmosphere at all times.
  • Photography inside the church is normally forbidden.
  • There are no visitor toilets at the church. Please go to the other restroom as much as possible, before arriving.
Click here (Japanese)
Further informationClick here

Museum at the Site of Former Santo Domingo Church

Museum at the Site of Former Santo Domingo Church

In 1602, Dominican friars began missionary work in Japan. They began their missionary activities in Kagoshima, but were banished from there in 1609. They therefore disassembled the church they had constructed and rebuilt it in Nagasaki. However, it was destroyed only 5 years later following the ban on Christianity in Japan. At that time, a statue of the Virgin Mary was taken to Manila so that it would not be destroyed. In the year 2002, the remains of the destroyed church were discovered beneath a local elementary school. A museum to house the ruins was subsequently built, and today it is open to the public.

Location30-1 Katsuyama Town, Nagasaki City, Nagasaki Prefecture (within the grounds of Sakura-machi Elementary School) Google Maps
Opening hours9:00am-5:00pm
Periods of closureEvery Monday & 29th December-3rd January inclusive
Admission feeFree
Further informationClick here