Pope Francis has held a place in his heart for many years. This week he visits Japan to encourage “the small Christian community to develop, grow strong and bear fruit...”
Francis told the bishops how as a young Jesuit in Argentina, he had longed to be a missionary in Japan, following in the footsteps of St. Francis Xavier, the Jesuit who first brought Christianity to the archipelago in 1549.
While health reasons prevented Francis from realizing that dream, he said he nevertheless nurtured a continued affection for Japan and was inspired by the Christians who endured more than two centuries of persecution starting in the 16th century.
“Such self-sacrifice for the sake of keeping the faith alive amid persecution helped the small Christian community to develop, grow strong and bear fruit,” Francis told the bishops.