Column

First Mass

When the first mass was celebrated on Kuroshima, Christianity was still officially banned within Japan. The priest who went there to say Mass crossed the ocean in disguise so as to avoid detection.

Main Related Property

Candidates for a world heritage

Kuroshima Church Kuroshima Church
Kuroshima Church

When, in the final years of the Edo period, news reached Kuroshima that a group of Hidden Christians had gone and confessed their faith to a foreign missionary priest at the newly built Oura Cathedral in Nagasaki, the island’s Hidden Christians became jubilant. The leader of their community (a man named Mr. Deguchi) and his son, both of whom had been responsible for performing baptisms in the absence of priests, went to Nagasaki by boat along with twenty other representatives and informed the priests there that there were 600 Hidden Christians on Kuroshima. Given the strict surveillance that was in operation at the time, they were risking their lives by doing this. After this, they repeatedly made the sea crossing to Nagasaki where they could receive direct instruction from the missionaries. The missionaries also began visiting Kuroshima, but they did so in cloak of darkness and in disguise so as to go undetected.
One day in 1872, inside Mr. Deguchi’s house (which was being used as a temporary church), the first mass on Kuroshima was offered. Ever since, Kuroshima’s Christians have never forgotten the happiness of that day: “Our ancestors courageously confessed their faith to the priests, helping to quickly bring about the resurrection of Catholicism within Japan”. This is something of which they are proud, and which helps to sustain them in their faith today.