The Martyrs of Papua New Guinea


New Guinea the world's 2nd largest island, has a difficult terrain that discourages travel between districts, Consequently, it is home to many isolated tribes, with many different cultures and at least 500 languages. Christian missionaries began work there in the 1860's, but proceeded slowly. Anglican missionaries arrived in New Guinea in 1891 with the backing of the Anglican Church in Australia. This followed Australian involvement in the administration of the south-east region of New Guinea.

WWII brought the Japanese to Papua New Guinea in January 1942. Most foreigners were evacuated to Australia, but both the Roman Catholic bishop, Alain de Boismeau, and the Anglican bishop, Philip Strong, encouraged their staffs to remain. Bishop Strong, expressing the general feeling amongst the staff:

"We must endeavour to carry on our work. God expects this of us. The church at home, which sent us out, will surely expect it of us. The universal church expects it of us. The people whom we serve expect it of us. We could never hold up our faces again if, for our own safety, we all forsook Him and fled, when the shadows of the Passion began to gather around Him in His spiritual and mystical body, the Church in Papua."

They stayed, In all, 333 Christians died during World War II in Papua New Guinea: 189 Roman Catholics, 20 Lutherans, 26 Methodists, 2 Seventh Day Adventists, 23 members of The Salvation Army, along with the Anglicans. Today we honour the memory of them all. The representatives of which are the 12 Anglican martyrs below:

The Martyrs of Papua New Guinea

Picture courtesy of St Peter's Cathedral

Faithful unto death, they chose to remain with their flocks rather than desert them in their hour of danger. They were Martyrs for the Christian Faith. Their deaths were not in vain. Their sacrifice inspired the Papuan Church, and it remained firm. Recovery after the war was rapid because of it. Had they deserted much of the work would have had to begin all over again. But they were faithful unto death, and we honour them. Once again the blood of the Martyrs became the seed of the Church.