Tokyo (Agenzia Fides) - The Japanese government has awarded Cardinal Raffaele Farina the honor of the Order of the Rising Sun - Gold and Silver Star - for his "contribution to the strengthening of friendly relations between Japan and the Holy See". The Japanese Embassy to the Holy See gives the news in a statement sent to Agenzia Fides. Among the specific reasons for the award granted to the Salesian cardinal, who is an Archivist and Librarian emeritus of the Holy Roman Church, is his valuable contribution "to the reorganization of the historical documents of the Edo period collected by Salesian missionary Father Mario Marega", relating to the period of prohibition of Christianity in the Japanese region of Bungo.
The "Edo period" (1603-1868) indicates the phase of Japanese history in which the Tokugawa family held the highest political and military power in the country. The Edo period was marked by a policy of isolation, during which there was a real bloodbath of Christians, especially in the Nagasaki area. The only foreigners to whom commercial access was granted in Japan at that time were the Dutch, because from the ship "De Ryp" they had bombarded the castle of Hara, where Christians were barricaded. For nearly two centuries, Christians who survived persecution continued to profess their faith underground. The era of kakure kirishitan ("hidden Christians") began. People suspected of being close to Christianity were subjected to the practice of the Yefumi, the pattering of foot on a figured crucifix or on sacred images of the Virgin Mary, to test ones non-involvement in the Christian faith. (GV) (Agenzia Fides, 21/5/2019)