A Catholic church in this western Japan city has become the first in Japan to be designated a “minor basilica,” a title granted by the pope only to specifically important places of worship.
The Oura Church in 1865 was the site where a group of “hidden Christians” revealed their faith to Father Bernard Petitjean of France.
“The church was the scene of an event that marked a transition from an age when our faith was banned to an age when it became free to follow it,” said Mitsuaki Takami, the archbishop of Nagasaki. “The church will have to play a more central role than ever.”
The Vatican, in recognition of the church’s history, advised the Catholic Archdiocese of Nagasaki to apply for the status of a minor basilica, a sign of historical and artistic significance, for the Church. The application, filed in February, was approved April 26.
More than 100 followers attended a commemorative mass held Oct. 21 at the Oura Church to offer a prayer of gratitude for the church’s new status.
Archdiocese officials said there are more than 1,700 minor basilicas around the world.
Source and image: Asahi