Gnecchi-Soldo Organtino (グネッキ・ソルディ・オルガンティノ)

Gnecchi-Soldo Organtino (born in 1533, birth date unknown - April 22, 1609) was an Italian missionary who was engaged in missionary work in Japan during the late Sengoku Period (the Warring States Period). He was a Roman Catholic priest. He was also a Jesuit (member of the Society of Jesus). He had a pleasant personality and liked Japanese people, and Japanese people also liked him and called him 'Uruganbateren,' and while he lived in Kyoto for 30 years, he became an acquaintance of powerful individuals such as Nobunaga ODA and Hideyoshi TOYOTOMI and became a witness to the violent and stormy Sengoku period.

In Italian, his name was Organtino GNECCHI SOLDI.


Organtino was born in Casto in Northern Italy in 1533 and joined the Society of Jesus when he was 22 years old. He was sent to Japan after teaching at major seminaries in Loreto and the State of Goa. He came to Japan on June 18, 1570, and his first stop in Japan was in Shiki of the Amakusa Islands. Organtino was in charge of missionary work in Kyoto from the beginning and, together with Luis Frois, engaged in missionary work in Kyoto, which was quite difficult. For 30 years from 1577, he was in charge of missionary work in Kyoto. He was quite popular among Japanese people due to his naturally cheerful character and attractive personality.

In 1576, Organtino built the Church of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary, which was also known as 'Nanban-dera Temple' in Kyoto. In 1578, Ukon TAKAYAMA, who was in a difficult position between his own vassals and Murashige ARAKI during ARAKI's rebellion, sought advice from him as to what to do. In 1580, he built a seminario (seminary) in Azuchi on land that he had directly requested from Nobunaga ODA. Organtino served as the dean of this seminario. The first students were from Takatsuki City, which was under the control of Ukon. Among these first students was Paul MIKI, who later died a martyr. However, this seminario was abandoned when Azuchi-jo Castle was burned down after Nobunaga died an unnatural death in the Honnoji Incident. In 1583, he had an audience with Hideyoshi TOYOTOMI and asked for new land to open a new seminario and was given land in Osaka; however, in the end the new seminario was built in Takatsuki, which was controlled by Ukon.

When the first Ban on Christianity was issued in 1587, Nanban-dera Temple in Kyoto was destroyed and Ukon TAKAYAMA abandoned his territory in Akashi City. Organtino, together with Ukon, escaped to Shodo-shima Island, which was a territory under the control of Yukinaga KONISHI who ostensibly renounced Christianity, and gave instructions to Christians in Kyoto from there. When Ukon was invited to Kaga-no-kuni (Kaga Province) the next year, Organtino headed toward Kyushu.

In 1591, after the Tensho-keno-shonen-shisetsu (The Mission of Youths to the West in the Tensho Era) came back to Japan, he and mission participants together had an audience with Hideyoshi. Owing to the mediation by Geni MAEDA, Organtino was permitted to live in Kyoto again. In 1597, the Twenty-six Martyrs of Japan had their earlobes slashed off upon their death, and Organtino received the earlobes from a subordinate of the magistrate of Osaka. Organtino supposedly received them solemnly, as he was shedding tears.

After spending half of his life in Japan devoting himself to his missionary work, late in his life he fell ill in Nagasaki and died in 1609 at the age of 76.

[Original Japanese]