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A Navarrese In Yamaguchi (0/7)

Welcome to Yamaguchi

Jose M. Vara, S. J.
Yamaguchi: Xavier Memorial Church, 2000

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New Yamaguchi Church.
New Yamaguchi Church


Looking back at Yamaguchi history there are many outstanding people that deserve our deeply felt gratitude. And yet, I personally think that we have a special debt towards Francis Xavier, the Navarrese saint. Xavier visited us for the first time in 1550, and, as we are told, he lived in this town the happiest six months of his life. Since then, mostly in the letters he wrote to his friends in Europe, Xavier became the best panegyrist Yamaguchi and its citizens could have ever dreamed of.

This booklet pretends to be an answer, albeit inadequate, to the friendship Xavier showed us. Through it, we will contribute to making Xavier better known among the many people who come to Yamaguchi from all over the world.

Domenico Vitali S. J.
Parish Priest of Yamaguchi
450th Anniversary of Xavier's arrival in Yamaguchi
September, 2000.


Xavier Statue at Kameyama Welcome on your pilgrimage to Xavier Church in Yamaguchi. Xavier--always awake in his marble sculpture--was waiting for you at the entrance of the basilica, and we were waiting for you too. We would be glad if your visit does not become just a tourist routine, if your encounter with Xavier kindles in your heart a flame that will not fade away till the end of your life.

The modern design of the basilica may have surprised you, because it definitely makes a break with the usual style of our churches. It is a challenge to traditional canons by the Italian architect Rugieri, who tried in this way to emphasize the missionary daring of Xavier, a man ready to break with the missionary patterns of his time. Rugieri's church is a paean to Nature and to God its Creator. It is a hymn, made of marble and concrete, that tries to blend together the dazzling whiteness of the towers, walls and roofs with the greenery of Kameyama hill and the deep-blue sky of Yamaguchi. It is also God and Xavier's tent among us, the one that will follow us in our pilgrimage across the desert of this world.

If you make an effort to take refuge in your inner self and contact there God and Xavier, the inside of the basilica will not be much of a distraction for you. Towers and stained glass windows, the altar cross, the font, the tabernacle, the way of the cross, the stillness of the temple, everything is here suffused with a kind of abstraction, and will not stand in your way when you try to visualize that famous Navarrese, Xavier. He was 44 years old when he first came to Yamaguchi in the late autumn of 1550, and did live here, as he told us, the happiest six months of his life. This pamphlet only intends to help you deepen your contact with Xavier. And, it goes without saying, to wish you a joyful stay in Yamaguchi and many happy memories hereafter.

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