12/01/2018 Japan (International Christian Concern) – A scroll recently discovered in a Japanese museum is believed to be from the earliest days of Christianity in the country. With the history of Christianity in Japan recently receiving new attention, the history of these rare Christian artifacts reveals an era of immense persecution for early Christianity in Japan.
The scroll, which was discovered at SawadaMiki Kinenkan museum in the town of Oiso, Janagawa Prefecture, near Tokyo, has an inscription that reads, “1592 years since His Birth”. This information, alongside carbon dating, would date the artifact as being created prior to the year 1633. If this dating is accurate, “the scroll would be from a period of cruel and violent persecution of Christians in Japan” according to news outlet Crux.
The earliest known arrival of Christianity to Japan was in 1549 when St. Francis Xavier came to the country. As Francis Xavier and his Jesuit missionaries evangelized and baptized many Japanese, Christianity experienced rapid growth. It was not until 1588 that emperor Cambacunono commanded all Jesuit missionaries to leave the country.
Although many missionaries remained in secret, a time of intense persecution had begun. Christian converts were brutally tortured by fire or flaying of their skin until they renounced their faith. If they refused, they were almost certainly put to death by burning, beheading, or crucifixion.
It was not until 1871 that the Christian faith was no longer prohibited and the Japanese people were granted religious freedom.
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