Japan, a parchment from the time of the persecution

A point of inflection that can shed light on the history of Christianity in Japan. The Sawada Miki Kinenkan Museum, located in Oiso, Japan, has made public the discovery of a parchment on which the mysteries of the rosary are drawn. It is believed that the document is from the late sixteenth century, when the persecution of Catholicism began in Japan.

The museum’s address has explained that it is a parchment of 22 cm high and 320 cm long, in which appear a series of drawings of ink made by hand. They represent the joyful, painful and glorious mysteries of the rosary and include Latin phrases written in Japanese characters. Although the European iconographic influence is evident, the style undoubtedly has Japanese elements, such as the “hakama”, traditional Japanese trousers of the time.

Christian preaching on the island began with San Francisco Javier and his fellow Jesuits. Later joined the Franciscan Order, who had produced a large number of conversions. It is believed that by the end of the century, there were more than two hundred thousand Catholics in Japan, including many Japanese feudal lords.

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