Blessed Thomas Jihyoe of St. Augustine,Augustinian, Priest, Martyr
Nagasaki, Japan, 1600 – November 6, 1637
Thomas Jihyoe, Augustinian Japanese, during the anti-Christian persecution during the seventeenth century, for 5 years with the nom de guerre “Kintsuba” held in check the soldiers of the emperor who tried to capture him because he was Catholic.He was born in Omura, Nagasaki around 1600, his parents were both catechists and died martyrs for the faith. As a child he attended the Jesuit school in Arima, but the school was closed because of persecution so he went to Macao to finish his studies. On an Augustinian missionary, since 1622, he moved to Manila in the Philippines and made his religious profession in the convent of St. Augustine Intramuros in 1624, then to Cebu to take up his theological studies. On completion of training he was ordained to the Priesthood. In the meantime persecution raged in Japan and the missionaries were falling one by one under the relentless blows of the persecutors, leaving the Catholic communities abandoned. Thomas felt that his place was in his country and, after several attempts, followed by as many shipwrecks, in 1631 was able to return to Nagasaki.
As a Japanese, it was easy for him to mask his condition as a Catholic priest. Courageous and inspired by the great spirit of faith, he did took the service of the governor of Nagasaki, with the name “Kintsuba”, meaning “golden hilt.” In this role could assist in jail Father Bartholomew Gutierrez until his Martyrdom and then take its place in helping the Christian prisoners. He found the courage to imagine the governor gave them the secret presence of a priest. Thomas was then discovered, but he escaped and went to a cave near the city. It opened as the famous chase his person still alive in popular memory.
He used to go out at night to meet with Christians and administer the sacraments, camouflaging himself and constantly changing habits and physical appearance. One day, however, in 1637, he was finally caught by chance and it was he himself who revealed his identity to his captors, who believed he was a simple Christian fugitive. For several months he was thus unnecessarily subjected to all sorts of torments in the hope that he would repudiate Christ. On November 6, 1637 was brought to the place of execution, the famous “Hill of Martyrs” in Nagasaki, and subjected to the classic condemnation of the pit, hanging by his feet with his head inside a hole dug in the ground until he died.
He was Beatified on November 24, 2008 together with 187 other victims of that persecution.
Author: Fabio Arduino
Source: Santi e Beati