Bl. Peter Zunyiga

August 19th

Blessed Peter Zunyiga was a Spaniard from Seville, he grew up in Mexico, where his father was the sixth Viceroy of the Spanish colony. Upon his return to Spain, he joined the Augustinians, and, after ordination, he requested to be sent to Japan and the missions there. Augustinians were first sent in 1602 to bring the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the people of Japan. Many of the Japanese people did become followers of Christ. And many of these Christians were attracted to the Augustinian way of life.

However, around 1617 persecutions of Christians broke out. There were many martyrs, whose deaths gave witness to their faith in Jesus. Going first to the Philippines in 1610, Blessed Peter was later assigned to Japan, arriving there in 1620. Two years later, he was arrested and, with Blesseds Louis Flores, Joachim Firayama and the captain and crew which had transported them, was put to death. The crew was beheaded while the others were burned alive.

Among the thousands of martyrs in Japan were several who were affiliated with the Augustinian Order. They were from four countries: Japan, Spain, Portugal and Mexico. Thus, their deaths also gave witness to the universality of the Order and of the Church, where the power of Christ and fraternal bonds were stronger than ties to a particular nation or culture.

Augustinian Ferdinand of Saint Joseph, along with Andrew Yoshida, a catechist who worked with him, were killed in 1617. Peter Zuniga was executed in 1622. Br. John Shozaburo, Oblates Michael Kiuchi Tayemon, Peter Kuhieye, Thomas Terai Kahioye, and Tertiaries Mancio Scisayemon and Lawrence Hachizo were martyred in 1630. Bartholomew Gutierrez, Vincent of Saint Anthony Simoens and Francis of Jesus Terrero were put to death in 1632.

Pope Pius IX beatified these martyrs in 1867. Other Augustinians had also been executed for their Christian faith during this long persecution.

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