11. St. John Soan, Saint Joseph's College

St. John Soan
Saint Joseph's College, 1851
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Saint John Soan, also known as Saint John de Goto (1578-1597) was born of Japanese Christian parents on one of the Goto islands west of Nagasaki. When the local prince there began a persecution of Christians, John’s family and many others moved to Nagasaki, where they would be free to practice their faith. John went to Osaka for his education. He met the Jesuits there, and assisted them as a young catechist. When he was 15, he asked to join the Society of Jesus, and was accepted in 1593.

In 1596, the central Japanese leader agreed with his anti-Christian counselors to destroy the religion as a foreign threat. When orders were given to arrest all the Franciscan missionaries from Spain, John and two other Japanese Jesuit seminarians were also taken. All of them were imprisoned for some months and then taken to the capital city of Kyoto where they were sentenced to death by crucifixion. After four weeks of a forced procession on foot to Nagasaki, they were led to a hill and passed through the gates where their execution would take place. St. John saw that his father was there and bravely told him that death was preferable to giving up his faith. His father agreed that he and his wife were likewise ready to die for their faith. At age 19, John became a Japanese Jesuit martyr of Japan.

Saint John is shown wearing the attire of a catechist, since he was not yet a priest: a purple kimono with a russet panel down the front and a red shirt showing at the throat. The manner of his martyrdom is signified by the huge cross that he holds and the location by the two Japanese gates at his feet.

The grayish shield of Saint Joseph’s College has four quarters: In the upper left, in black and gray, are the stripes of Oñaz, the family of Ignatius mother; in the upper right quarter are the wolves and cauldron of the Loyola family. In the lower left quarter of the shield, three lilies represent the pure love of Saint Joseph, the patron of the college. In the lower right is the seal of the Society of Jesus: the IHS and three crucifixion nails with rays emanating from them. The Latin inscription reads: Collegium Saint Joseph, Philadelphianse; the foundation date is 1851. The school colors are crimson and grey.


St. John Soan - Saint Joseph's College