Kuroshima Catholic Church
Kuroshima Church is a Catholic church located on Kuroshima island, Sasebo City, Nagasaki
Prefecture, and belongs to the Catholic Nagasaki parish.
Large scale as a brick church in the Meiji Era, appearance design is simple construction of the Romanesque, the internal space of the rib vault is to have reached the perfection, the impact of the church architecture of subsequent peripheral it is said that large.
Referred to as the official name Kuroshima Church (Kuroshima Association), has been designated as an important cultural property of the country to 1998 year.
As latency Christian-related heritage of Nagasaki Amakusa region, 2007 year, additions to the World Heritage tentative list is determined, Kuroshima church also become one of the registered candidates, in 2016 year has become one of the national nominations.
"Origins" the late Edo period, it is a latent Christian also from when the Hirado clan acknowledge the settlers open sea and Ikitsukishima was moved to Kuroshima.
When 1865 years 3 month, is "the faithful discovery" in Nagasaki Oura Catholic Church is made, the 2 months 20 people from Kuroshima soon after was confided the faith to visit the Oura Catholic Church.
For Kinkyo is not yet solved, but there was a persecution, the island believers all about 600 who has been restored to the Catholic.
Build a wooden church in 1878 year. Then, designed by Maruman Father was appointed to 1897 year, he told the construction of a full-fledged church, the congregation also respond to it, the current brick church in 1902 year was completed.
The people of Kuroshima who endured the religious suppression built Kuroshima Church as a proof of their faith.
The return to the Catholic Church of the hidden Christians on Kuroshima, the largest of the Kujukushima islands, was rapid.
Two months after the discovery of the believers, some twenty representatives from Kuroshima visited Father Petitjean at Oura to confess their faith. After that Father Poirier held the first Mass at the house of one representative, Deguchi Daikichi, and by 1873 it had become known as the ‘Catholic Island’.
The current brick church was built through the efforts of Father Marman and the earnest cooperation of the believers. The believers managed to raise more than two hundred million dollars (current value) for the construction of the church.
The brick and the materials were carried by hand up the steep hill from Nakiri Beach.
After a long and harsh religious suppression period, their long-cherished desire, having their own church, finally came true. (total cost: about three hundred million dollars /current value)
In May 1865, about 20 representatives of the Kuroshima hidden Christians visited Oura Cathedral where the ‘discovery of Christians’ had happened 2 months before.
where the ‘discovery of Christians’ had happened 2 months before.
In 1878, Fr. Pelloux built a wooden church on the current location.
In 1897, Fr. Marman dispatched by the Society of Foreign Missions of Paris arrived. The current church was built under the guidance of Fr. Marman and with believers’ monetary donations and physical volunteer supports. The completion year should be 1902 according to the baptism record of the church.
On May 1, 1998, The church was designated as National Important Cultural Property, the second church in the prefecture after Oura Cathedral (national treasure).
In 2006, The movement of recommending the Churches and Christian Sites in Nagasaki as candidate for World Heritage was started mainly in Nagasaki prefecture.
2007 year (FY 19 year) - 1 month 23 date, added to the World Heritage tentative list of "Nagasaki of Churches and Christian heritage" is determined, Kuroshima church also became one of the registered candidates.
Kuroshima Church is a three-aisle Basilica-style brick-and-wooden gabled and tile-roofed church and
it stands at the center of Kuroshima island north-facing.
It is 15.0 m wide and 32.6 m deep. The appearance is based on the Romanesque style and it has a rose window under the pediment on the façade.
The rose window is the only window on the façade and there are blind arcades and blind arches on the side walls.
There stands a bell tower with a quadrangular pyramid roof on the entrance. Most of the exterior wall of the tower is made of bricks, but the upper clerestory part is made of wood.
Its inside has a three-aisle style, a nave and two aisles are divided with pillars, and the nave is a three-layer structure made up of an arcade, a triforium and a clerestory. The ceiling is a rib vault structure.
Stained-glass windows are placed on the walls of side aisles and the clerestory. Kuroshima Church is in good preservation and it is said to be valuable as an orthodox and full-fledged church building constructed under the guidance of a foreign father during the Meiji period.
Kuroshima Church and Imamura Church (Fukuoka prefecture) are highly evaluated as perfect large-scale brick Catholic churches.
Style - Romanesque
Design - Fr. Marman
Master Carpenter - Maeyama Sakichi
Completion - 1902
Structure - Bricks & Wood, Tile-roofed
The bricks which had been fired by the believers using Kuroshima’s red soil were used on a part of the walls. The Kuroshima granite was used for foundation stones and Arita porcelain tiles (made by Matsuo Porcelain Co.) were used for the floor of the alter.
The construction of the church designed by Fr. Marman began in 1900 under his guidance and was completed in 1902 with believers’ monetary donations and their sacrificial cooperation.
There are 17 brick churches in Japan and all of them are in Kyushu (16 are in Nagasaki). Kuroshima Church is the fourth oldest one.
Most of the brick churches have a single-layer structure (the more layers, the more difficult), but Kuroshima Church has a three-layer structure like Oura Cathedral. Kuroshima Church is a precious existence as a church which adopted a three-layer structure when churches with a single-layer structure were common.
In those days, the islanders were too poor to buy quality lumber, so boards with hand-drawn wood grain patterns were used for the rib vaults and cheap main trees surrounded by thin decorative trees were used as pillars.
The main trees were Japanese elms.
These techniques made the church look gorgeous. It is said more than 400 thousand bricks were used in the construction. Most of them were ordered from outside and they were laid in the stronger British style.
Fr. Marman was said to be skillful with his hands. The church’s podium, the chandelier and a engraving on the baptism stand were made by him.
The holy icons in the church are said to be purchased by Fr. Marman when he went to France for fund raising. The stained glass, the Angelus church bell and all icons were made in France.
Now, the church is equipped with a carpet-covered floor and chairs, but used to be a tatami-mat floor according to an old record. Even though it may sound unmatched now, it was quite gorgeous for that day and age.
On the Christmas Eve, the church is overcrowded and some believers have to pray outside the building. After the mass, the church serves strawberry sponge cakes to the worshipers.
50 minutes from Ainoura port of Sasebo by ferry
30 minutes on foot from the Kuroshima ferry terminal.
If you would like an inside tour, you need to make a reservation in advance.