Paulo Uchibori and Sons, Part II


Part II


       In 1614, the Shogun’s vise tightened on Arima:  Sahioye, the Magistrate of Nagasaki, invaded her with an army of ten thousand men to wage a gruesome campaign of anti-Christian terror, and he threw Paulo Uchibori into prison.  Sahioye, a spiritual precursor of Adolf Hitler, had been promised the fief of Arima if he solved the Christian problem.  He was soon recalled by the Shogun, though, leaving behind in Arima many mutilated but victoriously-faithful Catholics, and two hills of Christian flesh:  one of chopped-up bodies and the other of heads, in a field below Naozumi’s abandoned hilltop castle in the south of Arima.

Arima was next entrusted to Matsukura Shigemasa, a tough warrior and an old stalwart in the retired Shogun Ieyasu’s camp.  At first, Shigemasa turned a blind eye to the Christians in Arima, and since he respected Paulo Uchibori’s samurai grit, he let him out of prison; but in 1626, Shigemasa went up to the capital to do homage to the Christ-hating Shogun Iemitsu, the third of the Tokugawa Shoguns and Ieyasu’s grandson.  According to historian Father Diego Yuuki, S.J., Iemitsu could think of nothing but the crackdown on Christianity, as if he were possessed (Yuuki, Unzen no Junkyo-sha, 1984, p. 52).

Matsukura Shigemasa’s castle at Shimabara; the moat has now become a garden
(Photo © 2007 by Luke O’Hara)

In his year at the Shogun’s palace at Edo, Shigemasa drank deep of the poison in the wretched Shogun Iyemitsu’s soul:  he went back to Arima a changed man, determined to purge Christ from his domain, and from the capital he had sent down orders to arrest Paulo Uchibori and his family.   When he arrived at his castle at Shimabara, he found thirty-seven Christians in his dungeon.  On 21 February 1627, Shigemasa decreed this doom for sixteen of them:  cut their fingers off, hang stones around their necks, and drown them in the sea.  Paulo’s three sons were among them.

(to be continued)