The little village of Japan came into considerable publicity after the Japanese attacked us at Pearl Harbor [December 7th, 1941], and some Missourians began an agitation to change its name. It turned out that few of its inhabitants were aware of its connection with the enemy country, for down there the name is customarily pronounced as "JAY-pan" or "JAY-puhn,"...with the accent on the first syllable. The patriotic zeal of the agitators was further checked when the history of the name was brought to light. The village was actually named, not for the country at all, but for the old Catholic Church there which has been in existence for more than a century. The "Church of the Holy Martyrs of Japan," to give its title in full, was named for the twenty-six priests and lay brothers of Spanish, Portuguese, and Japanese blood who were crucified for their faith on Feb. 5, 1597, in the great persecution that almost wiped out Japanese Christianity for the next three hundred years. When the pastor told its heroic story, the community decided to keep its name, which commemorated not only the savagery of the Japanese persecutors, but also the Japanese capacity for becoming saints and martyrs.—Robert L. Ramsay, Our Storehouse of Missouri Place Names
A painting of the martyrs inside of the church. The martyrs' feast day is held on February 6th, as the Memorial of Saint Paul Miki and Companions. Franciscans, Jesuits, and laymen were among the martyrs, who were crucified on the "Holy Mountain" overlooking Nagasaki. That area remained a center of Christianity for centuries, often practiced in secret. Nagasaki's cathedral was the target upon which an atomic bomb was dropped, ending World War II. The spread of Christianity is slow and difficult in Asia, because the deep-rooted fear of interfering with someone's karma makes the practice of charity difficult.
Here is Holy Martyrs of Japan Parish in Japan, Missouri. As these photos were taken, a couple was starting to decorate the exterior for Advent; to be included in the decorations were a large wreath for the church and a Nativity display.
The interior of the church is beautifully decorated and is in contrast to the plain exterior. The room is bathed in a yellow glow from the side windows. At the top of the sanctuary is a stained glass window, facing south.
The stained glass window.
The sunlight from the window falling on the floor. I would guess that this sunbeam will hit the medallion on the floor on or about the feast day of the church.
The Holy Family. "God's Grace in a Country Place".
The church is set among the tall native pines of the Ozarks.
The church address is:
8244 Hwy. AE
Sullivan, MO 63080
It is located about 66 highway miles southwest of downtown Saint Louis.