St. Philip of Jesus (1572-1597)

Artist: 
Br. Robert Lentz, OFM

Artist's Narrative:
St. Philip of Jesus is the first native saint of the Americas. Though he died in Japan, he was born in Mexico City. He followed his older brother into the Franciscan Order, but found the life too hard and left. Some time later he regretted his decision and returned to the Franciscans.

After some time in the Phillipine missions, he went to Japan, where Franciscans and Jesuits had established a church with over 200,000 converts. Shortly after Philip arrived, however, the political climate changed, and a persecution broke out against the missionaries and their followers. On a cold February morning in 1597, Philip, together with 25 other Christians, was crucified at Nagasaki. The spear he holds in the icon recalls that all the martyrs were speared to death as they hung on their crosses.

Because Philip’s brother worked as a missionary in northern Mexico, the story of the Nagasaki martyrs reached as far as the mountain villages of New Mexico, where images of St. Philip have hung in churches for centuries.

His feast day is February 6.

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