Blessed Peter Kasui Kibe

Blessed Peter Kasui Kibe

Peter Kasui Kibe


  • Death: 07/04/1639
  • Nationality (place of birth): Japan

Peter Kasui Kibe was born in the Bungo Province of the island of Kyushu in 1587. He was sent to study at the seminario, which, in his time, was located in Arima in southern Kyushu. Unknown to him, he was never again to return to his homeland. After he had completed the six-year curriculum of the seminario, Kibe asked to be admitted into the Society of Jesus. When his request was denied, he wrote and signed a private vow to the effect that he would continue to seek admission into the Society.

In the eight years following his graduation from the seminario, he served the Church as a dojuku, the 17th century equivalent of today's ""Jesuit Volunteer."" He helped the priests in the parishes, even preaching and teaching catechism. It was customary to give one becoming a dojuku a new name, and it was when Kibe became a dojuku that he received the name of ""Kasui"", which could be written with the Chinese characters for ""living water"", which happened to be the name of the Jesuit General, Father Claude Aquaviva, who, unknown to Peter at the time, would be the one to receive him into the Society of Jesus.

Kibe's determination to become a priest and a Jesuit grew stronger and stronger. In 1614, when the missionaries were expelled from Japan, Kibe went with them to Macao, where he hoped to complete his studies and be ordained a priest. To his great disappointment, this proved impossible. When it became clear that he could not be ordained in either Macao or Japan, Kibe decided to go to Rome and seek ordination there. From Macao, he boarded a ship for India and then traveled along an inland route, through Israel. He was the first Japanese pilgrim to enter Jerusalem and there he boarded a ship bound for Rome. In May of 1620, three years after beginning his epic journey, Kibe finally arrived at his destination and was able to complete his theology studies. He was ordained in November of that same year and five days later he was accepted into the Jesuit novitiate. Remarkably, he was present at the 1622 canonization of Francis Xavier - the first missionary to Japan.

In 1630, at the age of 43, Fr. Peter Kasui Kibe, SJ returned to Japan. For nine years he discretely ministered to Christians until one day he was betrayed when a fellow believer, hungry and poor, sold him out to the Shogun. Kibe was taken to Edo, the imperial capital that is today Tokyo. There he was imprisoned, interrogated, and tortured. Along with two other Christians, he was hung upside-down and eventually executed by the thrust of a guard's spear. It was July 4, 1639

Martyres in Japan

Originally Collected and edited by: Tom Rochford, SJ