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Sidotti Memorial Church

Sidotti Memorial Church (Catholic Yakushima Church)


 Born in Veneto, northern Italy, Father Contarini came to Japan longing for the feat of Sidotti. After working at various churches of the Xaverian Missionaries he moved to Yakushima in 1981 at the age of 60.

 He requested the church officials to let him stay saying “I want my bones buried in Yakushima soil.” They finally agreed and built the “Sidotti memorial church” in Yamanose, Koshima, about 1 km east of the landing site of Sidotti on February 14th, 1988.

 Father Contarini, who loved wine and jokes and treated everyone warmly, was an idol on Yakushima. Many islanders gathered in the church regardless of whether they were believers or not, and it was always crowded. However, after Father Contarini died in 1998, it became a church without a full-time priest, and unfortunately the door is often left closed now.

 We hope that the church will be revived as a place where people can easily interact with each other, and that it will take root in the community as a healing space for people with various thoughts.

Father Renzo Contalini (1921-1998)

Maria of the thumb Stained glass


 The cotton bag that Sidotti had when he landed on Yakushima contained a copper plate oil painting of "Virgin Mary" (also known as "Mary of the Thumb") in addition to mass tools, a cross, some underwear, and food. Before his cross-examination, Arai Hakuseki sketched and added, "The eyes are dented, the nose is high, and the face is swelling." This copperplate print had a strange fate. It had been missing for a long time after the Christian magistrate was abolished in 1792, but it was discovered in the storage of the Nagasaki magistrate's ruins in 1874.

 In 1955 it was confirmed that it was brought by Sidotti, as it was matched the reproductions and records left by Arai Hakuseki.

 In front of the "Sidotti Memorial Church", there is a stained glass with a diameter of about 70 cm created with this picture as a motif.

Stained glass of Yakushima Sidotti Memorial Church
A copperplate oil painting that Father Sidotti had when he landed on Yakushima (important cultural property of the Tokyo National Museum)
Father Contarini Memorial Arch

 An arch commemorating Father Contarini built in the front yard of the Yakushima Sidotti Memorial Church in April 2001 based on the will left by Father Contarini at the request of the Xaverian Missionaries. The height of the arch is about 4m and designed and built by William Brower, an American architect living in Koidomari who a friend of Father Contarini. The 400 arch stones were procured from the local area and the monument is made from stones ordered from Italy.

 The face of Sidotti carved on the stone monument is modeled on the face of Father Contarini. This was also the strong hope of the priest. Occasionally, you can see a smiling couple vowing to marry in front of the arch.

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