梵蒂岡羅馬天主教廷的代表周一（24日）在日本長崎舉行宣福禮，授予188名在17世紀因基督教信仰而被殺的日本人真福品。 這是羅馬教廷首次在日本舉行宣福禮。真福品是對模範教徒的表彰，規格僅次於聖人品。 獲宣真福的有天正遣歐少年使節中浦朱利安、首位訪問耶路撒冷的日本人彼得岐部等188名江戶時代初期（公元1603～1639年）的殉教者。 紅衣主教約瑟﹒馬爾廷斯代表教宗實施了宣福禮。 除九州地區外，被宣福者還包括在山形、京都、大阪、廣島和山口等地被處刑的人。 1981年前羅馬教宗約翰保羅二世訪日時，曾對當時的長崎大主教稱"日本是殉教者的國度，應該表彰他們"。 這件事最終促成了本次長崎宣福禮的實施。日本天主教會進行了籌備，現任教宗本篤十六世於去年6月決定宣福。 此前，日本天主教徒中共有42位聖人和205位真福，均由梵蒂岡主導選出，由日本教會主導的宣福活動尚屬首次。 基督教最早是在1549年被傳到日本的，但被當時日本各地的藩主禁止。 據信，至少有五千五百人因信仰基督教被殺，其中有不少被燒死或被斬首。 今天，日本人口中有不到百分之一的人證實自己信奉基督教，其他大都信仰佛教或神道教。
Home of the faithful
With about 130 churches and home to about 15 percent of Christians in the country, Nagasaki長崎 Prefecture is viewed by many as the center of Catholicism in Japan.
The churches are a combination of Western architectural styles introduced by foreign priests and traditional Japanese techniques developed by such skilled carpenters as Yosuke Tetsukawa (鉄川与助 1879-1976). The materials used to construct the churches include timber, brick, stone and reinforced concrete, and there are a wide range of designs.
Churches are an important part of the daily lives of Christians living on the Goto Islands, a chain of about 140 islands located about 100 kilometers west of Nagasaki city, but still part of the prefecture.
"If the churches become World Heritage sites, I wouldn't want them to become tourist attractions," said Yoshiaki Yamamoto, a photographer living in Nagasaki who has visited many churches in Japan and other countries. "I hope tourists visiting them will be respectful because these churches are for the local people."
Not only are the churches places where the faithful can worship, but also places where people can meet and children can play. The churches I visited were clean and comfortable, although they had a somewhat formal air.
Most of the churches in Japan built before World War II are located in Nagasaki Prefecture, and serve as a reminder of the history of Christianity in this country. This history began with the arrival of Christianity in the 16th century, followed by periods of persecution, and finally a revival of the faith.
St. Francis Xavier, cofounder of the Society of Jesus, landed in Kagoshima in 1549. At that time, Nagasaki was open for trade between Japan and Portugal and it eventually became an important base for spreading Christianity to the rest of Japan. The Society of Jesus establishing a headquarters in the city.Xaverian Brothers：聖方濟．薩威會：乃1839年創立於比利時的傳教修會，原名 The Congregation of the Brothers of St.Francis Xavier。拉丁文稱作 Societas Xaveriana，簡稱 S.X.。
Society of Jesus：耶穌會：由聖納爵．羅耀拉 St. Ignatius de Loyola 於1540年所創立，從事教育文化、外方傳教、大眾傳播、社會…等工作。俗稱 Jesuits。
In 1587, however, Toyotomi Hideyoshi (1536-1598), the warlord who was in the process of unifying Japan, issued a decree banning Christianity. Ten years later, Hideyoshi ordered the deaths of 26 Catholics in Nagasaki in what became known as the Martyrdom of the 26 Saints.
The oppression grew worse in the Edo period (1603-1867) under the Tokugawa shogunate, with believers forced to renounce their faith, sent into exile or killed. Eventually, it was believed Christianity, a religion that claimed 750,000 followers in the early Edo period, had been eradicated in Japan.
However, one of the most significant episodes in this country's religious history occurred in Nagasaki in 1865, when several Japanese visited the Oura Cathedral, built the year before for foreign residents, and revealed that they were Christians. The episode is known as the revelation of believers, and served to prove that despite the persecutions Christianity had not died out in Japan.
(This is the last installment of the Embracing World Heritage series)
Japanese Christian, finding of the：尋獲日本教友：聖方濟．薩威於1549年登陸日本傳佈福音，不多幾年，教友直線上升到廿萬人。可惜好景不常，隨即遭受教難，多人殉道，教友成了無 牧之羊。其後兩個半世紀，外人不得進入。直到1855年門戶始有限度開放，巴黎外方傳教會的柏若望神父（P. Petitjean）登陸長崎傳教；1865年3月17日，一群來自浦上的日本人參觀他新建的聖堂，見到聖母抱耶穌像喜極而泣，並問神父是否獨身？經證實 與祖先所傳下來的信仰相符後，赫然發現了六千多位失散達兩百多年、仍有活潑信仰的教友！兩年後，長崎市長奇蹟式地容許當地教友自由活動。在日本每年的3月 17日訂為尋獲教友節。