A native of Japan, Paul entered the Society of Jesus (the Jesuits) as a young man. He worked as a missionary brother, along with St. Leo Karasuma (a Korean layman), and six Franciscan missionaries from Europe, led by St. Peter Baptist of Spain.
Building on the earlier work of St. Francis Xavier, the missionaries preached the Gospel around the city of Nagasaki and were initially very successful. The captain of a visiting Spanish ship foolishly (and falsely) boasted, however, that the missionaries’ efforts were paving the way for a Spanish and Portuguese invasion of Japan.
The Japanese shogun (warlord) Hideyoshi, already envious of the missionaries’ success, used this as an excuse to begin a severe attack on all foreign influences, including Christianity. Many Christians were martyred, including Paul Miki, John Goto and James Kisai of Japan; Peter Baptist, Martin de Aguirre, Francis Blanco and Francis-of-St. Michael of Spain; Philip de las Casas of Mexico; Gonsola Garcia of India; and 17 Japanese lay people. These were all crucified and pierced with a lance.
While hanging on the cross, Paul Miki spoke to the Japanese gathered below: “As I come to this supreme moment of my life, I am sure none of you would suppose I want to deceive you. And so, I tell you plainly: There is no way to be saved except the Christian way. My religion teaches me to pardon my enemies and all who have offended me. I do gladly pardon the Emperor and all who have sought my death. I beg them to seek baptism and be Christians themselves.”
Adapted by A. J. Valentini from: Saints Editor. (2020, Feb. 6). St. Paul Miki and Companions (Martyrs). Catholic Exchange. https://catholicexchange.com/st-paul-miki-and-companions-martyrs#:%7E:text=St.%20Paul%20Miki%20%281565%3F-1597%29%20and%20his%20companions%20were,Europe%2C%20led%20by%20St.%20Peter%20Baptist%20of%20Spain.