Feast day: 28th of September
Saint Dominic Ibanez de Erquicia and Saint James Kyushei Tomonaga, Priests, Saint Lawrence Ruiz, Lay Dominican and Husband and Companions.
On this day the Order commemorates sixteen martyrs who labored to establish the Church in Nagaski, Japan, and who were martyred at various times during the years 1633, 1634 and 1637. After enduring horrible tortures, they were executed by the method known as the “gallows and pit,” their bodies were burned, and their ashes scattered.
Of this group nine were from Japan, four from Spain, one from France, one from Italy, and one from the Philippines. Father Dominic Ibanez de Erquicia was the first to die on August 14, 1633. Lawrence Ruiz, the father of a family and the protomartyr of the Philippines, died on September 29, 1637. Thirteen of these martyrs were members of the Dominican Family and three were associated with it.
The second reading (of the Office of Readings) taken from the supplement to the Liturgy of the Hours for the Order of Preachers:
From a letter of Saint Dominic Ibanez de Erquicia to his father written on October 18, 1630.
Dearest father, I hope my letter will be some consolation to you, since I am unable to comfort you in any other way. For I cannot show you my filial devotion, nor be of any help to you except before God. Indeed, I keep you before God in my poor prayers and at the sacrifice of the Mass, whether we live or die. Likewise, I pray for all my relatives and for the whole world that they may receive every good.
Eight years ago I left the Philippines and went to Japan. For twenty years the Christian community here has been persecuted and during this time there have been many martyrs, both religious and laity. Today this persecution increases more and more and for the past two years it has been unspeakably severe. Last year at the end of July a cruel governor arrived in the city where I now reside. He has sealed off every means of departure by land or sea, lest any Christian escape, and has begun to afflict them with so many savage tortures that he has induced many Christians to recant and so abandon their faith in Christ.
When the fury of the persecution had subsided a little, the authorities tried to seize religious and so as a result we have put on disguises and hidden ourselves in one place or another, for they offer rewards to those who will point out religious. On November 20th they seized a religious of the Augustinian Order on a mountain and three days later in this very city they caught a Jesuit priest who had been born in this area. Indeed, he was captured very near to the place where I was hiding and so, committing myself to God, at six in the morning I fled from the house with the help of a disguise.
Last May they captured a lay member of the Franciscan Order. So far five religious have been taken together with a large number of the faithful — the number of martyrs was almost forty. Last month many were burned alive and about thirty were cut to pieces with a saw made of reeds. They employ many cruel tortures in an attempt to compel these poor people to abandon the faith: some they scald slowly with boiling water which is poured upon their heads along with sulphur, resin, oil and other materials which increase their suffering; others they crucify or submerge in water until they die from the cold; still others they bury up to their waists and with a saw made of reeds gradually cut them to pieces in such a way that their suffering is drawn out for seven or eight days. Up to this point they have treated religious no differently, except that they are burned alive by placing the wood around the victims in such a way that they die gradually, but not from the flames themselves.
I have now come to the point of greatest danger for me in this persecution and already have a feeling that this is the last letter which I will be able to write. Therefore, my beloved father, let us so act that we may see one another in heaven for all eternity, fearing no separation here. Let us have no concern for this world, for it is our exile and separates us from God who is our total good. I say to my dearest sister, do not forget to commend me to God. To all my relatives and friends I send greetings. May the Lord keep you until you reach our heavenly homeland.