The History of Nagasaki
A Miraculous Restoration following a Regrettable History of Oppression
The city of Nagasaki, which for years prospered as a port of trade with Portugal, was also the window through which Christianity first arrived in Japan.
However, in 1587, Toyotomi Hideyoshi (the daimyo who unified Japan) decreed a ban on Christianity. This resulted in an incident known as "the execution of the 26 saints". 26 Christians were rounded up in the cities of Kyoto, Osaka, and Sakai, brought to Nagasaki via an overland route in large two-wheeled wagons, and executed at Nishizaka. This marked the first significant incident of martyrdom in Japan and triggered the period of pervasive persecution and martyrdom that followed.
Subsequent to this era, however, an impressive event took place that later became known as a miracle. In 1865, after an interval of about 300 years, a community of descendants of the original Japanese Christians was discovered living in the Urakami district. This incident became known worldwide as a miracle in the history of religion. Later, Oura Catholic Church - a national treasure known officially as "the Cathedral of the Martyrdom of the 26 Saints of Japan" - was built by a French priest who dedicated it in prayer to the 26 martyred saints.