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Bls. Alphonsus Navarette, Ferdinand Ayala, and Leo Tanaca

A native of Valladolid, Spain, Alphonsus Navarette, a Dominican missionary priest, came to Nagasaki, Japan after serving in the Philippines. He established for the Japanese Catholic laity three confraternities dedicated to nursing the sick and to rescuing babies left to die by their pagan parents. On one occasion, Father Alphonsus courageously protected and defended several Japanese Catholic women threatened by a vicious pagan mob. While experiencing an ecstasy, he was inspired to travel to Omura to encourage the Catholics suffering persecution there. The Catholics of Omura flocked to Father Alphonsus and to the Augustinian priest Ferdinand Ayala, a native of Ballesteros, Spain, who had previously served in Mexico. The two priests were soon arrested by the pagan authorities. Thereafter, the laity's continued attempts to visit Father Alphonsus and Father Ferdinand prompted the authorities to execute both priests. At their execution, Leo Tanaca, a Japanese lay catechist affiliated with the Jesuits, was beheaded for his faith together with them.

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