Dominican Saints 101: St. Dominic Ibanez and Companions

September 28, 2012

St. Dominic Ibañez and his companions (feast day – Sept. 28) were martyred between 1633 and 1637 in Japan.  This is the fourth of the four groups of Japanese martyrs, historically speaking, and of these 16 martyrs is included the first Filipino martyr, St. Lawrence Ruiz, who was a husband and father as well as a member of the Confraternity of the Holy Rosary.  In the words of St. Guillermo Courtet, they went to Japan “only to preach faith in God and to teach salvation to little ones and to the innocent and to all the rest of the people.” These Japanese martyrs came mostly from the Philippines (or from Spain through the Philippines) to Japan.  When St. Dominic Ibañez first arrived in Japan in 1623, Christianity was tolerated because a powerful shogun was supportive of it.  However, subsequent shoguns weren’t.  This led to a resurgence in the persecutions that had started back in 1587 with the “Edict of Expulsion of all Missionaries.” As a result, the Dominicans ended up working in cognito, until they were found out and martyred by crucifixions, beheadings, water torture, and the “gallows and hole” torture, which often lasted for days.  The Second Reading for Matins on this feast, by St. Dominic Ibañez, is particularly detailed when it comes to describing the martyrdoms:

Last month, many were burned alive and about thirty were sawed in two. As horrible as these were, the tortures by which they tried to force the sufferers to renounce the faith were even more cruel. They slowly boiled some in water mixed with sulphur, resin, oil, and other things to increase the pain; they crucified others, some they submerged in freezing water, others they buried up to the waist and sawed them in half slowly, so that the pain might be dragged out over seven or eight days. Up to this point, they have only executed the religious by burning them alive while suspended over a pit, so that since the flames did not encircle the body they might die slowly.

Let us then pray for the Church in Japan and look to the martyrs as an example of fidelity and faithfulness to the spread of the Gospel.  As Bl. Pope John Paul II said in his canonization homily, “The Holy martyrs speak to the Church in Japan, particularly to the Archdiocese of Nagasaki, to the Church in Taiwan and in Macao and to all Christ’s followers in Asia: may the example and intercession of the new Saints help to extend Christian truth and love throughout the length and breadth of this vast continent!O Lord, give us the perseverance of your blessed martyrs Dominic, James, Lawrence, and their companions, in service of you and our neighbor; for they who suffered persecution for the sake of justice now reign with you among the blessed.  We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. [Here’s a link to the Vatican biographies of the individual saints, as well as links to the beatification homily and the canonization homily (which does have some English, just scroll down).]

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