I have been reading a little about Thomas Kozaki, who, along with 25 other Christians, was crucified for not renouncing their faith in Nagasaki, Japan. The image above is the memorial that now stands on the spot. He was just an ordinary young man, but showed immense courage. Whenever I read stories like this, I do wonder if I would be able to show the same courage in the circumstances. But, I guess, it’s something we’ll never really know until we have to face something similar — which is something, thankfully, few of us (if any) will ever truly face.
Thomas Kozaki was born in 1582 in Ise, Japan. His father Michael was a carpenter and a Christian. Michael met some Franciscan missionaries and he helped build the Franciscan convents and churches of Kyoto and Osaka. In 1596, fourteen-year-old Thomas was an altar boy.
The Japanese ruler Toyotomi Hideyoshi wanted to rid Japan of Christians and he ordered their arrest. In Kyoto and Osaka, 26 Christians, including Michael and Thomas, were arrested. They each had a piece of their left ear cut off, and then paraded from city to city, travelling more than 400 miles.
For weeks a man shouted their crimes and encouraged their abuse. The arrested priests and brothers were accused of preaching the outlawed faith of Christianity, the laity of supporting and aiding them.
They were each repeatedly offered freedom if they would renounce Christianity. They each declined. The 26 were crucified on February 5, 1597 at Tateyama (Hill of Wheat), in Nagasaki, Japan.
Prior to his death, Thomas wrote a touching letter to his mother. In it he says: “Remember also the innumerable blessings bestowed by the Lord Jesus Christ. As everything of this world can be lost soon, even if you might become poor and have to beg for food from people, please take care not to lose the glory of paradise. No matter what people may say to you, please forbear with patience and love to the end.”