Nagasaki is famous to us because of the atomic bomb exploded there in 1945. That city is also known among Franciscans for the friars and tertiaries martyred there in 1597.
Peter Baptist Blasquez was born in 1542 to a noble Spanish family; he joined the Franciscans in his homeland. He worked for several years in the Philippine Islands and in 1592 was delegated by Philip II of Spain to negotiate peace with Hideyoshi, the ruler of Japan.
Peter Baptist and several confreres accomplished their mission and stayed in Japan to spread the gospel. Their success in making converts and establishing churches and hospitals frightened Hideyoshi. In December 1596 he imprisoned Peter Baptist, two other priests, two brothers, a cleric, 17 Japanese Secular Franciscans and three Jesuits.
Condemned to death in early January at Miyako, these prisoners were led on a painful four-week trip to Nagasaki. On February 5, 1597, they were crucified and run through with spears. They were canonized in 1862.
Missionaries always work with trust that God will complete their beginnings. A good work—in the missions or elsewhere—is never wasted.
O Lord Jesus Christ through the blood of your holy Martyrs St. Peter Baptist and Companions, grant we beseech Thee, that we, who today celebrate their feast, may be spurred on by their example, you who live and reign forever and ever. Amen.