Note: All the objects and pictures shown here are property of the 26 Martyrs Museum. Reproduction or use without consent is prohibited. For technical details on each item, see our Catalog Page.
Original Letter of St. Francis Xavier
This original Letter of St. Francis Xavier to the King John III of Portugal is one, perhaps the most valuable item of our Museum. Even if the content is not related to Japan, it's highly probable Xavier was already thinking about Japan in the time he wrote this letter. Written from Amboino (Indonesia) in May 16, 1546, this letter shows gratitude to the King and asks for continued support for the Mission in Asia. The text has been published in the "Monumenta Indica", and there are many translations, included a Japanese one.
As it is a formal letter, According to the time's conventions, the body of the letter was written by a calligrapher who usually made 3 copies, all being original, and the last line and the signature belongs to the hand of Francis Xavier himself. Read the Text
Reliquary with a piece of bone from St. Jacob Kisai
This Reliquary contains a piece of bone belonging to Jacob Kisai, one of the 26 Martyrs . This relic survived the persecution era because it was sent by the Missionaries to Europe at the time of their expulsion from Japan. It was kept in Spain for a long time and sent back to be shown in our Museum.
It is exhibited now in the right Relics Chamber of our "Hall of Glory"
One of the Persecution Survivors, Our Lady of The Snows
This unique image of Our Lady of the Snows is one of the few Western-Japanese (Namban Art) religious art pieces that survived the long persecution period in Japanese.
Even if we don't have precise data, all points to think it was made in Nagasaki by some of the Christian painters of the famous "Kano" school, between 1600 and 1614.
A western style Mary painted in Japanese paper, with Japanese colors and in a Japanese drawing techniques makes this a wonderful art mingle already achieved in the beginnings of S. XVII.
We suppose there were many pieces like this, just a few of them remain in the World.
Original letter of Bl. Nakaura Julian,sj.
The picture and text of this letter with explanation and translation to Japanese has been published by Fr. Yuuki,sj and is being sold (¥120) here. English Translation
This is an original letter of Nakaura Julian,sj. to Fr. Nuno Mascarenhas, Assistant of the Fr. General of the Jesuits at that time. Julian Nakaura was one of the four envoys sent to Europe in 1582, who after coming back to Japan (in 1590) had an Interview with Toyotomi Hideyoshi and made a deep impression in him. Julian became a Jesuit, was ordained Priest and ministered the Christians secretly during the persecution time. He was taken to prison and after cruel torture died martyr in the place where our Museum stands, in October 18, 1633. His cause for beatification is well advanced in Rome, and we hope to see him in the altars soon.
Maitreya (Miroku Bosatsu) Bronze Statue
This little bronze statue, is an example of the exchange between Japan and Korea throughout the centuries.
The delicate style makes it an achieved piece of art also.
It is one of the oldest Maitreya statues in the Country. Even if the origins are not certain, the experts think it was made in Korea between the 6 and 7 Centuries. The Hakata merchants may have brought it in some of their trips.
It was entrusted to our Museum by a former Hidden Christian family. They say in the persecution period, they used this statue to pray to Christ.
Little Wood Carving of Our Lady and Jesus
his little Wooden Image of Our Lady and the Holy Child was unearthed in Nyu, actual Oita Prefecture, along with a good collection of Christian devotion items, inside a Vase. As the persecution grew stronger, the objects were gathered and hidden deep in earth to avoid the complete destruction of the whole village. It was found just by chance by a farmer.
The whole collection has been declared or Important cultural Value by the Nagasaki Prefecture.
The collection includes a rare piece of host from about 400 years ago, which is now completely solidified.
The controversial "San Felipe" in scale
Scale of the Ship "San Felipe". The shipwreck of it in 1596 and the following controversy between the captain and followers of Hideyoshi is considered one of the direct reasons for the condemning of the 26 Martyrs by Toyotomi Hideyoshi.
Christianity Prohibition and Reward Notice
Edict of prohibition of Christianity in Japan and offering of reward to people who give information about Priests, Brothers, Catechists, or returnees to the Christian faith. Dated 1682.
For content and details, see this internal link, based on Sophia University's Laures Data Base.
Xavier, the eternal Pilgrim in two old carvings
This nice XVII Century wood carving statue, shows a young Francis Xavier dressed as a pilgrim. The clothes are the typical Spanish "Camino de Santiago" (St. Jacob's way) style, as the two shells suggest. Now, as Xavier has a book in his hands (the New Testament or the Catechism), the sculptor inspiration seems to describe Xavier as the missionary who is also in a continuous pilgrim searching his way to God. He was also a pilgrim searching and learning his way of showing the others the message of Christ. The beautifully carved wood medallion in the right may have come from some centuries ago. It has some serious scratches, but still keeps the inspiration of the author and the "love burning heart" of Francis Xavier strong message.
Yasutake Funakoshi's "Takayama Ukon"
A Model of Christian Lord and Sanctity, Takayama Ukon, by Yasutake Funakoshi.
Bronze, 80cm. Made in 1966 The creator of the famous "Twenty Six Martyrs Monument", Y. Funakoshi, gave this beautiful piece of art to our Museum. Even if little known, this statue shows a more achieved deepness and balance than many of his other bronze works.
A mature Takayama Ukon seems to look over worldly affairs and aim for broader, eternal worlds. His thoughts seem to be more about the future than about the persecution and exile he suffered.
Beautiful Parchment Antiphonary
This beautifully preserved Antiphonary was made in the 15th. Century, and used in a Convent in Avila, Spain. The text is "Gregorian style" Latin, but, contrary to the normal 4 lines (Gregorian tetra gram), a pentagram is used.
Old Mexican Crucifix made with Corn Leaves Paste

Just arrived to our Museum, this old Crucifix was made by an Mexican Indian artist. We think it was made around the XVII Century, using a paste made out of corn leaves. Though the body seems to have been retouched, the original strength of the face is quite impressive.

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