Saints of the Society of Jesus: Blessed Anthony Ixida

3 September, Martyr

Sometimes the missionaries were beaten till their bones were laid bare, or else they were roasted on gridirons, or thrown into pits filled with venomous serpents. Sometimes their arms and legs were pierced with spears or their limbs amputated one by one. In certain parts of Japan, on the mountains of Oungen, not far from Nagasaki, existed a species of craters, out of which arose putrid vapors, flames or pestilential miasmas; over these volcanic “cavities the missionaries were suspended by their feet; their heads, tightened between planks of wood, were placed at the opening of the crater, and under their right hand was a bell so arranged that the slightest movement sufficed to make it ring. They were told that its sound would be regarded as a sign of apostasy; and to physical torture was thus added the torture of intense mental strain, as they endeavored to suppress even the least involuntary movement of pain. Many Christians, and among them women and young girls, were likewise subjected to the fearful torments of Oungen; some, indeed, were vanquished by pain, but the greater portion endured their tortures with superhuman courage. One of the most remarkable of these was a youth of nineteen named Simeon, who, on being questioned by the judge concerning his studies, replied: ‘As for knowledge, I only know how to die.’ He remained on the mountain for sixteen days, during which the pestilential waters that issued from the crater were repeatedly poured over him; at length his body became one vast ulcer, and his flesh so corrupt that it fell to pieces. Seeing him in this state, the magistrates had him carried to his father’s house, in order to deprive him of the glory of dying on the scene of his martyrdom. He lingered for two days, during which he continually repeated: ‘O my Saviour, Your wounds are so great, mine are nothing.’ His father, a fervent Christian, considered it the height of happiness to have a martyr for his child. In 1631 Father Anthony Ixida, a Japanese Jesuit, was subjected to the torments of Oungen, together with several other religious, among whom was Father Francis of Jesus, an Augustinian monk, and two Portuguese ladies, one of whom was a girl of eighteen. Father Francis of Jesus describes in graphic terms the aspect of the horrible mount, which at that season was covered with snow, and the effect of the burning waters, which, when poured on the naked flesh, laid the bones bare in a few minutes. During one month Father Ixida endured the torture six times a day, but never a word of complaint escaped his lips. He was taken back to prison covered with wounds, which were purposely left to corrupt and fester, and eight months later he was burnt to death at Nagasaki.” Father Ixida had labored in the Society forty-five years.