Thursday, February 3, 2011

Nishizaka (San Filippo) Church and 26 Martyrs Memorial, Nagasaki

A steep climb up some narrow steps leads unexpectedly to a clearing in Nishizaka -- the park setting for the Twenty-Six Martyrs Memorial and the associated church. It was on Nishizaka hill in 1597 that 26 Christians were publicly executed under a policy of persecution that lasted for centuries.

The memorial and museum (at the left) and the church building (at the right) were completed in 1962. Designed by Kenji Imai, an architect who studied Gaudi, it's Ronchamp meets the Sagrada Familia... The church spires are clad with colourful pieces of broken ceramic vessels, and are said to each symbolize the prayers of the people ascending heavenward and the Spirit of God descending to His people; other symbolic gestures and fragments abound. 

Despite the importance of the events surrounding the site and its role in shaping the cultural, historic, and spiritual identity of the region, the memorial doesn't seem to draw much of a crowd... a good thing, given its contemplative nature.

More on the church later...

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