During a recent visit to the Houonji Buddhist monastery in Yamaguchi Prefecture, Japan, a group of sixty Japanese Catholics packed into a once secret room that served as a hiding place for persecuted Christians in the late 19th century. Union of Catholic Asian News reports:
The monastery had discovered a secret room attached to its main hall, with a tunnel leading out to the fields behind the temple, chief Buddhist monk Venerable Toshiaki Namba told Father Onchi during an interreligious gathering. The room is believed to have sheltered Christians hiding from religious persecution.
Houonji was built at its present location in 1617. Later, during a persecution in the late 1800s, Christians were exiled about 230km to Hagi City from Urakami, Nagasaki. Venerable Namba told his visitors that while the Christians were praying inside, the monks would chant sutras loudly outside to prevent the sound of their prayers from being heard by anyone else. The Catholic visitors expressed gratitude to their host for the kindness and generosity of the monks in protecting their predecessors in the faith.
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