24 Sep 2020
Temporary closure of chapel / gardens
Due to COVID-19 our chapel and the gardens are closed now.
Neither pilgrims nor tourists will be able to enter the convent
until Easter 2021 at the earliest.
We are very sorry for this inconvenience.
The next annoucement will be in March 2021.
The Institute of the Handmaids of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in the Holy Eucharist, "Seitai Hoshikai," is a small institute of Catholic religious women leading dedicated lives of prayer and was established in 1970 by the late Bishop John Shojiro Ito of Niigata, Japan.
Members make vows of Obedience, Chastity, Poverty, and follow the example set by the lives of Jesus Christ and Mary, in offering their lives to the service of God and neighbor. Seitai Hoshikai is comprised of sisters who reside at the Motherhouse in Akita, who lead a community life centered on prayer, and sisters who lead an apostolic life of evangelization among lay people in society.
The “Seitai Hoshikai” (Institute of the Handmaids of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in the Holy Eucharist) is located on a hill in the outskirts of Akita, where you find beautiful nature surrounding the convent.
The beauty of nature created by God. The shrine designed in traditional Japanese style. The presence of the praying hospitable sisters. It is a space of prayer where we can leave our busy daily life and open our heart to the silent and holy surroundings.
For us Christians, prayer is the foundation of our daily life, and it is the same for Christian communities. The sisters are always praying there. We can join in their prayer. It is a precious gift to have the Seitai Hoshikai, which is a community of prayer that offers a space for prayer, in the Niigata Diocese.
Since the statue of Mary miraculously shed tears, many people from both within and outside Japan have visited the Seitai Hoshikai as pilgrims. Those who saw the tears as well as those who come to visit the shrine and pray, follow the example of Holy Mary. They reflect on their lives in accordance with the example of Mary, deepen their faith, and are sent back to their daily life with renewed dedication.
I hope many people will visit the Seitai Hoshikai to pray together. I also pray that there will be people who offer their life as sisters of the Seitai Hoshikai to continue this important mission for the Gospel.
Most. Rev. Paul Daisuke Naruii
Bishop of the Diocese of Niigata
Most Sacred Heart of Jesus,
in the Holy Eucharist,
I consecrate my body and soul
to be entirely one with Your Heart,
being sacrificed at every instant
on all the altars of the world
and giving praise to the Father,
pleading for the coming of His Kingdom.
Please receive this humble offering of myself.
Use me as You will for the glory of the
and the salvation of souls.
Most Holy Mother of God,
never let me be separated
from your Divine Son.
Please defend and protect me
as your special child.
The chapel of Seitai Hoshikai, called Our Lady of Akita, was done in a Japanese "irimoya-juso-style" architecture which was built by Japanese temple building carpenters from Urano Domiya Kogei, Takasaki City in Gunma. The reason this church was constructed in this traditional style was to convey to the Japanese people that the Catholic Church is universal and that Jesus Christ is the savior of all people—including the Japanese.
After 7 years of construction, the chapel was dedicated on May 1, 2002 to Mary, Redemptoris Mater, "Mother of the Redeemer." The statue of Our Lady of Akita is enshrined on the left corridor and the statue of Saint Joseph is on the right side.
Work on the Japanese garden, dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary, started in the spring of 1974 and was completed on October 11, 1976. The circular promenade garden was completed not by professional landscapers but by novice laypeople. Trees were donated by friends from different places throughout Japan.
The Garden of the Lamb is for meditation and prayer. The Way of the Cross was constructed through the center of the Garden and blessed by Bishop Francis Keiichi Sato of Niigata on August 18, 1994.
The statue of Our Lady of Akita was carved in 1963 by Mr. Saburo Wakasa, a wood sculptor living in Akita City.
On the morning of January 4th 1975, tears started to flow from the statue. The "lacrimations" (shedding of tears) started this day and continued, sometimes on consecutive days and sometimes at intervals for a total of 101 times. This persisted until September 15th, 1981—the feast of Our Lady of Sorrows.
Every time the statue wept, the sisters would pause to gather in front of the statue to recite the Rosary. Afterwords, a priest would wipe away the tears. The cotton swabs used were later sent to the forensic labs of Akita University and Gifu University for testing and were certified to be comprised of "bodily fluid."