The 26 Martyrs of Nagasaki, Japan, a 17th century painting by an unknown Japanese artist. The first group of Japanese martyrs in 1597 were Jesuits, led by Francis Xavier, and Franciscans, whose missionary efforts obtained about 300,000 believers before the shoguns began to crush the Japanese Church; other martyrdoms followed. The two Roman Catholic orders rivaled each other for dominance, and the authorities came to believe that Europeans sent missionaries as a prelude to military control, citing events in the Philippines as an example. The Church was mostly extinguished, but a remnant of the faithful remained and were discovered 250 years later, though they had no priests or Scriptures.

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