Saints of the Society of Jesus: Blessed Jerome de Angelis and Blessed Simon Iempo

5 December, Martyrs

Father Jerome De Angelis, an Italian, labored for twenty-two years in Japan. He carried the light of the Gospel into five provinces and four kingdoms into which no missionaries had penetrated, baptizing over ten thousand infidels. To save those who gave him hospitality from discovery, he resolved to give himself up to his pursuers. His companion, Simon lempo, a Japanese Brother, casting himself at his feet, begged with tears not to be separated from him in his hour of triumph. It was like the pleading of the deacon Lawrence with the holy pontiff Xystus to be allowed to accompany him to martyrdom. In prison Father Jerome converted forty men to the Christian faith. Brother Simon baptized eight, all that were in his cell. They were burned to death in December, 1623. Father de Angelis was in his fifty-sixth year.

Gradually the priests and missionaries were all put to death in Japan or died out, and others failed in their repeated attempts to penetrate into it. One day, after centuries, when Japan was again opened to commerce, the missionary who had come in the guise of chaplain to a foreign consulate was lingering at dusk near the entrance of his chapel, which no Japanese was allowed to enter. Two women crept up to his side. “Where is your wife?” they asked.

“I have no wife.”

“Do you belong to the great father ?”

“Yes, I am subject to the Holy Father the Pope, the bishop of Rome.”

“And the mother?” In answer to this question he showed them his rosary. Then, falling at his feet, they begged his blessing, telling him that the children of the martyrs had not lost the faith, but awaited with hope the return of those whom their dying priests had told them they should recognize by this triple sign – their celibacy, their union with the See of Peter, and their devotion to the Mother of God.

Mention is made in this book of the Blessed Mary Ann of Quito and Margaret Mary of the Visitation, on account of their intimate relations with the Society of Jesus, which did much to obtain their beatification, and to which is accorded the privilege, not extended to the whole Church, of celebrating their feasts.