Hara Martinho (原マルティノ)

Martinho HARA (1569 - October 20, 1632) was a Christian who was one of the vice-envoys of Tensho Keno Shonen Shisetsu (the Tensho Boy Mission to Europe) that lived during the Azuchi Momoyama period to the early Edo period. He was from Hizen Province (the present Hasami-cho, Nagasaki Prefecture). He was a Jesuit and a Roman Catholic priest. He was also referred to as Maruchino or as Martino. He was the youngest among the four boys of the envoy, but he had good aptitude for foreign languages, and became famous for delivering a speech in Latin at the State of Goa on his way home from Rome.


According to the document that had been passed down in Rome, Martinho was thought to be born in Hasami, Hizen Province, who was the son of Nakatsukasa HARA, a prominent figure of the Omura territory. He intended to become a priest since both of his parents were Christians, and he entered a Seminario (Seminary) in Arima.

Alessandro Valignano (Valignano) who came to Japan as a Jesuit visitor, met with Sumitada OMURA who was a Christian daimyo (Christian feudal lord), and in order to restore missionary work that was in financial difficulties, and to nurture Japanese priests which would be in charge of the coming generation, he sought to dispatch an envoy representing Christian daimyo to Rome.

Therefore, Valignano marked out four boys who were studying at the Seminario. Criteria for selecting the representatives were good looks, health that can withstand a long trip, and outstanding aptitude for foreign languages and studies. The two senior envoys were representatives of Christian daimyo who were chosen from those that were related to those daimyo, but blood relationship was not strictly assessed for the vice-envoys.

(Refer to the section on Tensho Keno Shonen Shisetsu for their trip to Europe.)

A year after their return to Japan in 1590, they had an audience with Hideyoshi TOYOTOMI at Jurakudai residence. Hideyoshi took a liking to them, and recommended that they become officers, but they had all declined. Later, he went to Noviciado in Amakusa in order to continue studying to become a priest, and went to collegio (college established by the Jesuits) to continue with his studies. On July 25, 1593, he joined the Society of Jesus with the other three members of the envoy.

By 1601, he transferred to collegio in Macao to study advanced course on theology (Miguel CHIJIWA withdrew at this point). In 1608, Mancio ITO, Martinho HARA, and Juliao NAKAURA were ordained together as priests.

Father Martinho HARA had aptitude for foreign languages and was outstanding in Latin which was compulsory education for the priests at the time. Besides missionary work, he was involved in translating foreign books and publishing, and he published 'Kontentsu sumunji' as the Japanese translation of a pious book "Imitatio Christi" ("The Imitation of Christ"). He had excellent liaison skills and had negotiated with Yukinaga KONISHI and also Kiyomasa KATO; he was most famous among the priests in Japan at the time.

Because of the deportation order of Christians in 1614, he left for Macao on the 7th of November. He also printed and published books in Japanese at Macao, but he died on October 23, 1629. His body was buried in the underground of a cathedral (of which only its façade remain) in Macao with his lifetime mentor, Valignano.