Today, 14 Mar 2012, we recall the life of Blessed Dominic Jorjes (aka Domingos Jorge/Jories/George), a layman who was martyred in 17th century Japan. He layed everything on the line to serve Jesus and to be counted worthy to die for him.
Blessed Dominic was beatified as one of the 205 Blessed Martyrs of Japan by Blessed Pope Pius IX in 1867. The date Dominic gave his life was 18 Nov 1619, so I am a little puzzled why he is listed on 14 March on the Saints.SPQN.com website. Nevertheless his story deserves to be told. From St Alphonsus Liguori’s ‘Victories of the Martyrs’ Part II, Chapter11 comes the best information about him.
Although he died in Japan, Dominic was born in San Roma, Portugal. He had been a soldier and had settled in a suburb of Nagasaki, Japan. We know that his faith was strong because he was a member of the Confraternity of the Holy Rosary. During the persecutions this lay group encouraged each other and formed a network of safe houses for the missionary priests.
At some point during late 1618 or early 1619 Dominic had been arrested for sheltering Fr Spinola, a Jesuit priest in his home. In prison Dominic’s faith was supported by the amazing Brother Leonard Guimara S.J. who converted all of his cell mates and led them in an extensive routine of prayer and fasting. Dominic’s arrest was all the more poignant because he left behind a wife, Elizabeth, and an infant son. In 1622, when his son, Ignatius, was aged 4, these two joined him in martyrdom. This indicates that Dominic has to have been of virile age at the time of his public witness to Jesus.
When Dominic was condemned to death together with Brother Leonard and three others, he replied to the judge, ‘I prefer this sentence to the possession of the whole Japanese Empire.’. They were led to the five stakes amid a crowd of spectators. To each stake a martyr was bound and then the fire was lit that would burn them to death. The joy with which Dominic, Brother Leonard and the other three faced this torture converted many bystanders and ignited in others a desire for martyrdom.
For Jesus, Dominic gave up his safety, putting himself and his family at risk by sheltering priests. For Jesus, he stood firm and was parted from his wife and baby son. For Jesus, he faced prison and death by burning. May he help us to place Jesus into the first place of our lives.
Blessed Dominic Jorjes, pray for us.