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Religion Today Blog Christian Blog and Commentary

Japan's Oldest Church, Built to Commemorate 26 Christian Martyrs, May Become World Heritage Site

  • Veronica Neffinger
    Religious persecution, missions, Christianity around the world
  • 2016 Jul 26
  • Comments

Japan’s oldest church which was built to commemorate 26 Christians who were martyred in 1597, may become a UNESCO World Heritage Site. reports that Japan has a history of Christian persecution. During the Edo period, from about 1603 to 1868, Japan was very hostile to Christianity and as many as 6,000 Christians were thought to have been martyred. 


For many years, the Christian church in Japan was thought to be extinct. Then, in 1865, after Japan finally opened its borders, villagers from a village near Nagasaki visited a recently-built Catholic church. The villagers told the priest of that church that they and their families had maintained their faith for generations in secret.


Once this family revealed their hidden faith, more families came forward, and it was discovered that tens of thousands of Japanese Christians existed in hiding.


The Oura Church in Nagasaki is the country’s oldest church and was built on the site of the brutal murder of 26 Christians by crucifixion.


The church is nominated as a possible World Heritage Site along with several other Christian sites in Nagasaki and Kumamoto. 



Publication date: July 26, 2016