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Identity of old missionary martyr in Japan confirmed

TOKYO (Agencies): Japanese authorities confirmed on April 4 the identity of a 17th century Italian Catholic missionary priest, Father Giovanni Battista Sidotti, whose remains were discovered in 2014 during excavations for an apartment building.

Vatican Radio reported on April 6 that he is known as the last missionary martyr to Japan.

Father Sidotti had heard stories of Christian martyrs in Japan and received permission from Pope Clement XI to travel to the Land of the Rising Sun, which had outlawed the Christian religion.

Father Sidotti disguised himself as a samurai upon his arrival in 1708, but was eventually arrested.

His interrogator was impressed by Father Sidotti’s demeanour and level of scholarship, and developed a great deal of respect for the outlawed missionary.

One important result of the interrogation was the decision to deport Catholic missionaries, rather than kill them.

 But Father Sidotti attempted to convert his guards to Catholicism and was thrown into a pit where he died of starvation.

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