The Japanese Christians forced to trample on Christ

Nov 24, 2019 by

Pope Francis arrived in Japan on Saturday ahead of a trip to Nagasaki to pay tribute to the victims of the atomic bomb dropped on the city during World War Two. But he will also pay tribute to a lesser known group of residents who, hundreds of years ago, were tortured and forced into hiding for their beliefs.

A man waits nervously in line to be called. When he hears his name he steps forward, watched closely by local and government officials from the capital, who have been sent down specially for the occasion.

In front of the man is a small bronzed image fixed with the image of Jesus Christ on the cross. The man is told to step on it.

If he does, it’s a public declaration that he has given up his faith – and he will live to see another day. If he doesn’t, he could face execution, crucifixion or torture – forced into boiling hot springs or suspended upside down in a pit of excrement.

Any sign of hesitation could cost him his life.

This practice of stepping on Christian images – known as fumie – was widespread in the city of Nagasaki in the 17th century.

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