The Christian faith was first introduced into Japan in the sixteenth century by Jesuit and later by Franciscan missionaries. By the end of that century, there were probably about 300,000 baptized believers in Japan. This strong beginning met reverses though, brought about by rivalries between different groups of missionaries and political intrigues by the Spanish and Portuguese governments, along with power politics among factions in the Japanese government itself. The result was a mass persecution of Christians. The first victims were six Franciscan friars and twenty of their converts, who were executed at Nagasaki on 5 February 1597. They were tied to crosses, the crosses were raised to an upright position, and they were then quickly stabbed to death by a soldier with a javelin. Many other Christians were arrested, imprisoned for life, or tortured and killed; and the Church was totally driven underground by 1630. Callot was one of the first great artists to practice the graphic arts exclusively. His innovative series of prints documenting the horrors of war greatly influenced the socially conscious artists of the 19th and 20th centuries.
-Susan Bonta, Class of 2018