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St. Philip of Jesus

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Born in Mexico, date unknown; died at Nagasaki early in February, 1597. Though unusually frivolous as a boy, he joined the Discalced Franciscans of the Province of St. Didacus, founded by St. Peter Baptista, with whom he suffered martyrdom later. After some months in the Order, Philip grew tired of monastic life, left the Franciscans in 1589, took up a mercantile career, and went to the Philippines, where he led a life of pleasure. Later he desired to re-enter the Franciscans and was again admitted at Manila in 1590. After some years he was to have been ordained at the monastery in Mexico, the episcopal See of Manila being at that time vacant. He sailed, 12 July, 1596, but a storm drove the vessel upon the coast of Japan. The governor of the province confiscated the ship and imprisoned its crew and passengers, among whom were another Franciscan, Juan de Zamorra, two Augustinians, and a Dominican. The discovery of soldiers, cannon, and ammunition on the ship led to the suspicion that it was intended for the conquest of Japan, and that the missionaries were merely to prepare the way for the soldiers. This was also said, falsely and unwarrantably, by one of the crew (cf. JAPAN, CHRISTIANITY IN JAPAN, Catholicism ). This enraged the Japanese Emperor Hideyoshi, generally called Taicosama by Europeans. He commanded, 8 December, 1596, the arrest of the Franciscans in the monastery at Miako, now Kyoto, whither St. Philip had gone. The religious were kept prisoners in the monastery until 30 December, when they were transferred to the city prison. There were six Franciscans, seventeen Japanese tertiaries, and the Japanese Jesuit, Paul Miki, with his two native servants. The ears of the prisoners were cropped on 3 January, 1597, and they were paraded through the streets of Kyoto; on 21 January they were taken to Osaka, and thence to Nagasaki, which they reached on 5 February. They were taken to a mountain near the city, "Mount of the Martyrs ", bound upon crosses, after which they were pierced with spears. St. Philip was beatified in 1627 by Urban VIII, and, with his companions, canonized 8 June, 1862, by Pius IX. He is the patron saint of the city of Mexico.


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