"It is 12:30 p.m. in Nagasaki, on March 17, 1865. Father Bernard Petitjean, a priest of the French Societe des Missions Etrangeres, hears a noise at the back door of his little chapel. On opening he is surprised to find a group of 15 middle-aged Japanese men and women — surprised because all native- born subjects of the Mikado are strictly forbidden to associate with Christians and his chapel has been declared to be reserved only for foreigners."
So begins Part 17 of a series titled "Great Moments in Catholic History," published in 1983 in the journal The Catholic Register. The article's author is Fr. Jacques Monet, who vividly captures the emotional intensity of this charged moment.
"Until now," he continues, "[Fr. Petitjean] has had no visitors. But here, standing before him are these 15 people, looking very frightened and not a little unsure of themselves . . .