Today we celebrate the life of Blessed Bartholomew Gutiérrez, a Mexican Augustinian, who died out of hatred for the faith in Japan.
Newsroom, (September 2, Gaudium Press) — Today we celebrate the life of Blessed Bartholomew Gutiérrez, an Augustinian who died out of hatred for the faith in Japan.
He was born in Mexico City on September 4, 1580, and entered the Augustinian Order at the age of 16. He was ordained a priest and then transferred to Puebla where he expressed his desire to be a missionary.
However, his brothers in religion mocked his desire; they said that he could not exercise this ministry because… he was too fat. The Blessed replied jokingly that, on the contrary, there would be more relics to distribute when he died a martyr: “because one day I will go to the Philippines and from there to Japan where I will die for the Faith of Christ”. And so it happened.
On February 22, 1606, he embarked from Acapulco. He arrived in the Philippines on May 1st of the following year. The journeys were very long then. In the Philippines, he became prior of novices, a position he held for six years.
He knew Latin well, and with his ability for languages, he soon learned Japanese, which is not so easy.
In 1612 he left for Japan and in 1613 he became the prior of the Usuki convent. The faithful began to follow the Augustinian’s apostolate.
But in 1614, after a decree expelling the religious, Blessed Bartholomew was captured. After his expulsion from Japan, he returned to the Philippines, where he again became prior of novices.
The final journey to Japan
However, from Japan came the request for missionaries; and some claimed the presence of Fr. Bartholomew, who had left good memories. So the blessed returned to Japan on August 12, 1618, by order of his superiors. As religion was prohibited, Blessed Bartholomew had to hide. He lived in fields and forests. It is said that once a spider miraculously spun a large web where he was hiding, concealing him. Another time, he went to encounter his persecutors while playing an instrument; this prevented them from recognizing him. And so it happened on several occasions, but in 1629 they finally captured him.
At that time a new governor, Tacanga, arrived in Nagasaki. He hated Christianity and particularly Blessed Bartholomew because he had converted several of his relatives.
As a result of a betrayal, they captured the Blessed on November 10, 1629, along with the Blessed John Shozaburo and three other assistants. He was transferred to the prison of Nagasaki, where he joined two other Augustinians. The Japanese authorities took him to the prison of Omuro, considered to be more ruthless. He stayed there for two years, to be transferred once again to the prison in Nagasaki.
They tortured him and several of his companions using sulfuric water. The guards would take them to the boiling waters of Lake Arima to be immersed there. They suffered greatly. For a month, at least twice a day, the religious men watched as their bodies transformed into bruises.
But the religious did not deny the Christian faith. So Tacanga condemned them to die burned at the stake. The day before the sentence was carried out, the sinister governor offered to let them go if they renounced their faith, something that did not happen.
Therefore, in 1632, they died burnt on the stake.
With information from Aciprensa.