Sunday, January 6, 2013

St. Magdalene of Nagasaki

Living just down the street from a large Augustinian-staffed church means getting to hear about many saints whose feasts or memorials are not recognized or sometimes even mentioned on the general calendar.  St. Magdalene of Nagasaki is one such saint.

You can read more about her at this  website.

Only 23 when she was put to death in Japan in 1634, Magdalene was an Augustinian tertiary whose parents were martyred while she was still in her teens.  She served as a catechist and interpreter for Augustinian missionaries, risking great peril to herself.  After some of the missionaries she worked with were burned at the stake, Magdalene found herself even more on fire with the faith and sought out other friars who she could serve.  When they, too were put to death, she turned herself in to civil authorities, refusing to renounce Christianity.

Magdalene was sentenced to die by anazuri, whereby the accused are hung upside down by their heels over a pit of offal (animal intestines and other garbage).  On the 13th day of her torture, her executioners filled the pit with water and drowned her.  After her death for Christ, her body was burned and the ashes scattered in the Nagasaki bay to ensure that no relics would be left.

Magdalene was canonized by Blessed John Paul II in 1987.  She is the patroness of evangelists, interpreters, writers and reporters.

May her love for Jesus Christ, her courage and her remarkable commitment to Him be an inspiration to the rest of us.


  1. I love the holy martyrs of Japan - Magnificat often has their stories for the saint of the day - they are so edifying. I can't imagine suffering some of the things they did.

  2. I know Terry, it makes me wonder what I would have done in their place. I just renewed my Magnificat subscription in November and I'm so glad I did. It's such a wealth of spiritual treasures. Happy Feast of the Epiphany! Joyce

  3. Joyce, if you ever want to read a fine novel about the Catholics in that area in that time, read Silence by Shusaku Endo, a Japanese Catholic. Graham Greene called it the best Catholic novel ever.

    Amazingly, centuries after Japan had stopped allowing contact with Catholic missionaries, there were still Catholics in the Nagasaki area. There were unfortunately many martyrs over there. May she pray for us.

  4. Thanks Manny, I hope to take a look. BTW, for some reasons your comments are getting caught in my spam filter. I don't always check it but I guess perhaps I'd better, eh? Joyce


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