26 Jan Some Japanese martyrs celebrated in Mexico?
Crucifixion existed in Japan before the introduction of Christianity: since the Heian period (794-1185) it was the way to execute thieves. The convicts were first mutilated and exhibited around town before being tied (not nailed) on a cross. Two executioners had to cross their spears in front the eyes of the convicts and then spear them on each side of the thorax. This is this precise moment that the mural painting has illustrated. Above the martyrs the artists painted a fire in the form of a column, which is evidence of the Franciscan origin of the painting. The Franciscans in Japan were adamant about the supernatural event that occurred at the moment of execution: some “columns of fire” appeared in the sky. The artists in Mexico gave a direct translation of this event, which has been denied by the Jesuits.
The diary of a noble Aztec bears witness to the fact that news of the martyrdom had reached Mexico at the end of December 1597. The following year the Franciscans carried the relics of the martyrs to Mexico. The Franciscan convent of Cuernavaca was situated on the road from Acapulco, port of arrival of the Manila galleon, and the capital city of New Spain. The Franciscans whose destination was the Philippines or Japan had all spent some time in the convent of Cuernavaca, which is the reason why the martyrs are celebrated there. Moreover, the Franciscan friar Felipe de Jesús (1572-1597) was among the martyrs: he is the first martyr of Mexico.