An agreement has been signed between the Vatican Library and four Japanese historical institutes to inventory and catalogue the Marega Papers. The Meraga Papers are a compilation of around 10,000 documents chronicling the persecution of Christians in Japan in the 17th to 19th centuries. The six-year agreement was done between the Vatican Library, the National Institute of Japanese Literature, National Museum of Japanese History, and the Historiographical Institute of the University of Tokyo to organize the project.
An Italian missionary, Rev. Mario Marega took the papers to Rome in the 1940s, and they were left untouched until researcher Delio Proverbio found them in 2010. Study of the documents began and the Vatican invited Japanese experts to help them with the data. Head of the Vatican Apostolic Library, Monsignor Cesare Pasini said that it is the largest collection of its kind. The documents were written on rice-paper scrolls from the year 1719, and so delicate that one must use gloves when handling them. The scrolls described how Christianity arrived in Japan in 1549 through Jesuit missionaries. It noted how in 1858, the religion has become so widespread, four Japanese Catholics went to join the events leading to the election of Pope Sixtus V in Rome. The documents also detailed how the ban on the religion started in the country and described the martyrdom of the 26 Christians in Nagasaki in 1597, which led to anti-Christian decree in 1612, banning the religion and any practice related to it. It also documented the use of Buddhist pagodas to record Christians who died or renounced the faith.
Marega, who moved to Japan in the 1920s, found the documents in then-named Bungo, Oita Prefecture. During that time, there was already freedom of religion in the country. He wrote two volumes of the summary of the documents, which was included in the rice-paper scrolls found in the Vatican Library. Pasini said that the partnership between Vatican and the Japanese institutions would be another step in both their histories as he believes that “culture creates bridges.”
[via The Republic]