Study Guide

Silence Prologue

By Shusaku Endo


  • The news has just reached the Vatican: Father Ferreira, famed Jesuit missionary to Japan, has "apostatized" (p.1). "Apostatize" means "to renounce one's faith," by the way, so this is some serious business.
  • Although the Church has been in Japan for a while, in recent years, the government has been cracking down on it. Priests are banned, and those who remain in Japan have gone into hiding.
  • Last the Church heard from Ferreira, the government has been executing Japanese Christians en masse—although that only ends up making them into martyrs.
  • Back in Rome, however, three of Ferreira's former students refuse to believe that the missionary has betrayed his faith. These three priests—Sebastien Rodrigues, Francisco Garrpe, and Juan de Santa Marta—want to go to Japan to find out themselves.
  • After an arduous journey filled with plenty of mishaps, the three bros—sorry, fathers—arrive in Macau. From there, they'll need to find a ship to take them to Japan.
  • The fathers arrive to bad news, however: the Church is no longer sending priests to Japan. Local bigwig Father Valignano says that it's too risky.
  • With that out of the way, we're now going to take a look at some letter that Sebastien Rodrigues has sent to friends back in Portugal.