Degree Name





Family, Home, and Social Sciences

Defense Date


Publication Date


First Faculty Advisor

Aaron Skabelund

First Faculty Reader

Diana Duan

Honors Coordinator

Daren Ray


Japan, Christianity, Kakure Kirishitan, Laity


This thesis examines the historiographical connections between Alessandro Valignano and the localized tradition of Christianity that produced the hidden Christian communities of Japan in the seventeenth century. Valignano, as overseer of Jesuit missions in Asia in the late sixteenth century, implemented policy changes designed to bolster the number and quality of laymen clergy assisting the Westerners with missionary duties. Valignano faced criticism for his overestimation of the time needed for training and for his methodology, but his efforts to train and support laymen clergy contributed to a rising trend of Christianity as a unifying tradition for local communities. The laymen clergy (dōjuku) produced as a result of Valignano’s policies bore most of responsibility and credit for Christianity’s success prior to persecution by the Tokugawa government. After many Christian communities were separated from Western influence amidst persecution, the laymen clergy became the primary religious authority for existing Christians in Japan. Their influence laid the traditions and foundation for the hidden Christian communities that continued to practice secretly for the next two centuries.