St. Martin de Aguirre
Missionary and martyr, one of the Martyrs of Japan. He was born in Vergara, Spain, a community near modern Pamplona. In 1586 hejoined the Franciscan Order and was ordained. Martin volunteered for the missions and was sent to Mexico and then to Manila in the Philippines. From Manila, Martin went to Japan, where the Church was converting hundreds in all regions. Christianity was tolerated in Japan at the time, and Martin was able to preach and instruct his Japanese parishioners. Within the Japanese government, however, many counseled opposition to the Christian faith, which they believed was but a prelude to a European invasion. Toyotomi Hideyoshi, at that time the power in Japan, was finally convinced that Christianity was a threat to Japanese peace and independence, and decided to rid his country of all foreign influence. He instituted a persecution that involved thousands, including the European missionaries. Martin was arrested with twentyfive of his converts. They were crucified on February 25, 1597, near Nagasaki. All of the Martyrs of Japan were canonized in 1862.
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