Thursday, April 29, 2010
Established in 1864 during the closing years of the Edo period, Oura Church was built by the French in Nagasaki to dedicate prayers for the 26 Martyrs of Nishizaka Hill, the place where 26 European and Japanese Christians were brought to Nagasaki and crucified in 1597 to discourage Japanese from becoming Christian following Hideyoshi's edict of 1587 banning Christianity in Japan.
A few days after the church opened a group of Japanese "Hidden Christians" appeared and introduced themselves to the French priest. These people had been secretly practising Christianity since the late 16th Century. I posted earlier about what was done to some of these hidden christians as Christianity was still banned in 1865.
The stained glass was installed in the early years of the twentieth Century, and while the church survived the atomic bombing of Nagasaki, most of the stained glass did not. However it has been replaced with glass from the same period.
Oura Church is the only western building to be listed as a National Treasure.
Oura Church served as the model for the Catholic Church in Tsuwano.
There is a 300 yen entrance fee to enter the church, and photography inside is banned, but I guess my camera accidentally took some pictures all by itself without my knowledge.