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San Paolo Miki e compagni Martiri – 6 febbraio –

San Paolo Miki e compagni Martiri

6 febbraio

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Kyoto, Giappone, 1556 – Nagasaki, Giappone, 5 febbraio 1597

Nato a Kyoto nel 1556 in una famiglia benestante e battezzato a cinque anni, Paolo Miki entra in un collegio della Compagnia di Gesù e a 22 anni è novizio, il primo religioso cattolico giapponese. Diventa un esperto della religiosità orientale e viene destinato, con successo, alla predicazione, che comporta il dialogo con dotti buddhisti. Il cristianesimo è penetrato in Giappone nel 1549 con Francesco Saverio. Paolo Miki vive anni fecondi, percorrendo continuamente il Paese. Nel 1582-84 c’è la prima visita a Roma di una delegazione giapponese, autorizzata dallo Shogun Hideyoshi. Ma proprio Hideyoshi capovolge la politica verso i cristiani, diventando da tollerante a persecutore. Arrestato nel dicembre 1596 a Osaka, Paolo Miki trova in carcere tre gesuiti e sei francescani missionari, con 17 giapponesi terziari di San Francesco. E insieme a tutti loro viene crocifisso su un’altura presso Nagasaki. (Avvenire)

Etimologia: Paolo = piccolo di statura, dal latino

Emblema: Palma

Martirologio Romano: Memoria dei santi Paolo Miki e compagni, martiri, a Nagasaki in Giappone. Con l’aggravarsi della persecuzione contro i cristiani, otto tra sacerdoti e religiosi della Compagnia di Gesù e dell’Ordine dei Frati Minori, missionari europei o nati in Giappone, e diciassette laici, arrestati, subirono gravi ingiurie e furono condannati a morte. Tutti insieme, anche i ragazzi, furono messi in croce in quanto cristiani, lieti che fosse stato loro concesso di morire allo stesso modo di Cristo.

(5 febbraio: A Nagasaki in Giappone, passione dei santi Paolo Miki e venticinque compagni, martiri, la cui memoria si celebra domani).

E’ il primo giapponese accolto in un Ordine religioso cattolico: il primo gesuita. Nato in una famiglia benestante e battezzato a cinque anni, Paolo Miki entra poi in un collegio della Compagnia di Gesù, e a 22 anni è novizio. Riesce bene in tutto: solo lo studio del latino lo fa penare; troppo lontano dal suo modo nativo di parlare e di pensare. Diventa invece un esperto della religiosità orientale, cosicché viene destinato alla predicazione, che comporta il dialogo con dotti buddhisti. Riesce bene, ottiene conversioni; però, dice un francescano spagnolo, più efficaci della parola sono i suoi sentimenti affettuosi.

Il cristianesimo è penetrato in Giappone nel 1549 con Francesco Saverio, che vi è rimasto due anni, aprendo poi la via ad altri missionari, bene accolti dalla gente. Li lascia in pace anche lo Stato, in cui gli imperatori sopravvivono come simboli, mentre chi comanda è sempre lo Shogun, capo militare e politico. Paolo Miki vive anni attivi e fecondi, percorrendo continuamente il Paese. I cristiani diventano decine di migliaia. Nel 1582-84 c’è la prima visita a Roma di una delegazione giapponese, autorizzata dallo Shogun Hideyoshi, e lietamente accolta da papa Gregorio XIII.

Ma proprio Hideyoshi capovolge poi la politica verso i cristiani, facendosi persecutore per un complesso di motivi: il timore che il cristianesimo minacci l’unità nazionale, già indebolita dai feudatari; il comportamento offensivo e minaccioso di marinai cristiani (spagnoli) arrivati in Giappone; e anche i gravi dissidi tra gli stessi missionari dei vari Ordini in terra giapponese, tristi fattori di diffidenza. Un insieme di fatti e di sospetti che porterà a spietati eccidi di cristiani nel secolo successivo. Ma già al tempo di Hideyoshi, ecco una prima persecuzione locale, che coinvolge Paolo Miki. Arrestato nel dicembre 1596 a Osaka, trova in carcere tre gesuiti e sei francescani missionari, con 17 giapponesi terziari di San Francesco. E insieme a tutti loro egli viene crocifisso su un’altura presso Nagasaki. Prima di morire, tiene l’ultima predica, invitando tutti a seguire la fede in Cristo; e dà il suo perdono ai carnefici. Andando al supplizio, ripete le parole di Gesù in croce: “In manus tuas, Domine, commendo spiritum meum”. Proprio così le dice: in quel latino che da giovane studiava con tanta fatica. Nel 1862, papa Pio IX lo proclamerà santo.

Nell’anno 1846, a Verona, un seminarista quindicenne legge il racconto di questo supplizio e ne riceve la prima forte spinta alla vita missionaria: è Daniele Comboni, futuro apostolo della “Nigrizia”, alla quale dedicherà vita e morte, tre secoli dopo san Paolo Miki.

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