Vatican: 188 Japanese martyrs and a Cuban brother to be declared blessed

.- Pope Benedict XVI has given the go-ahead for the beatification ceremonies of a group of 188 Japanese martyrs and the Cuban Br. Jose Olallo. The Japanese Catholics will be beatified on November 24 in Nagasaki and Br. Ollalo will be declared a Blessed on November 29 in Cuba.

The Japanese Martyrs

The Japanese martyrs were led by a priest named Fr. Peter Kibe Kasui, who was introduced to the faith by St. Francis Xavier’s group of Jesuit missionaries.

The Jesuits were so successful that the number of Christians in Japan grew to 400,000 in 50 years.

However, this growth soon drew the opposition of Tokugawa Ieyasu who was named the new shogun of Japan in 1600, according to the Hawaii Catholic Herald. By 1614 his desire to protect Buddhism and his people from outside influences led him to wage an intense campaign of persecution against the Japanese Christians.

All missionaries were banned from the island nation and all churches were ordered destroyed. Although Tokugawa died in 1616, his sons Hidetada and Iemitsu continued the persecutions, which claimed the lives of some 4,000 believers, according to the Catholic Encyclopedia.

Fr. Kibe was tortured to death by being hung upside down with his head immersed in a pit filled with excrement and animal carcasses.

The beatification ceremony for Fr. Peter Kibe and his187 companions who were killed in Japan between 1603 and 1639, will take place at midday on Monday November 24 in the Nagasaki’s Big N Stadium.

Br. Jose Olallo

Born from unknown parents, Jose Olallo Valdes was born on February 12, 1820 and a month later was left at the Orphanage of San Jose in Havana. He was baptized just days later on March 15.

Br. Olallo Valdes joined the Order of St. John of God at a very young age and was soon moved to Camaguey to assist the victims of the 1835 cholera epidemic as a nurse.

During his time in Camaguey, he suffered the consequences of the anti-religious laws that suppressed all religious orders in Spanish territories. Nevertheless, he remained faithful to his vows and, due to his popularity with the people, the civil authorities allowed him to remain at the hospital, thus becoming the only remaining Brother of St. John of God remaining in Cuba.

After 54 years of devoted service to the sick and the poor, which included times of both famine and war, Br. Olallo Valdes passed away on March 7 1889. His death so moved Camaguey's citizens, that a vast multitude attended his funeral and mourned his passing.

Br. Ollalo’s beatification will take place at 8 a.m. on November 29 in the Plaza de la Caridad of Camaguey, Cuba. It will be the first beatification to ever take place on Cuban soil.

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