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St. Magdalene of Nagasaki: an example of faith in times of persecution

She was born near Nagasaki, Japan, in 1611, the daughter of Christians martyred for their faith. When Magdalene was only a child, she consecrated herself to God under the guidance of Blessed Francis of Jesus and Vincent of St. Anthony, Augustinian Recollects, who received her into the Order as a tertiary.

Her arrival in the world coincided with the intensification of the persecution of Christians in Japan. Fourteen years earlier the brutal torture, crucifixion and burning of 26 Christians, among whom was St. Paul Miki, had taken place. These were dark years in which the Japanese ruling elite targeted the kakure kirishitan (hidden Christians) in order to eradicate the Catholic faith from their land.

After the martyrdom of her spiritual guides, she withdrew to the mountains from where she aided and instructed the Christian communities under threat. It was in September 1634, in order to support the wavering faith of many of her brothers and sisters in the face of the torments of cruel persecution, that she voluntarily surrendered to the judges, proclaiming herself a Christian.

She was dressed in the habit of an Augustinian tertiary and carried pious books for meditation in prison. She was cruelly tortured, but remained firm in her faith. She died after thirteen days suspended by her feet from a gallows that stood over a pit, almost hermetically sealed, until she drowned in the water that was rising inside the hole.

She was 23 years old.

Saint Magdalene of Nagasaki, virgin and martyr, was beatified in 1981 and canonised by Saint John Paul II on 18 October 1987.



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