Westminster Abbey - 20th Century Martyrs

The 20th Century Martyrs. Westminster Abbey, London. The statue of Lucian Tapiedi, by Tim Crawley, stands second from right.

Lucian Tapiedi (b. ca. 1921—1942) was a Papuan Anglican teacher who was one of the "New Guinea Martyrs." The Martyrs were 8 Anglican clergy, teachers, and medical missionaries killed by the Japanese in 1942 (a total of 333 church workers of all denominations were killed during the invasion).

He was born around 1921,“the nephew of a suspected sorcerer of Taupota village in Milne Bay district”,[1] on the north coast of Papua, and was educated at mission schools, where he was influenced by Nita Inman, the schoolteacher, and the Reverend Edwin Nuagoro, a Papuan priest.[1] In 1939, he entered St Aidan's Teacher Training College at Divari and in 1941 he became part of the staff at Sangara as a teacher and evangelist. On 21 July 1942 the Japanese invasion of New Guinea began.


Tapiedi and 10 others, evading the Japanese, came to a village inhabited by the Orokaiva people, and found themselves escorted away by men of that tribe. A man named Hivijapa killed Tapiedi with an axe near a stream by Kurumbo village. The remainder of the group perished soon after; six of them beheaded by the Japanese on Buna beach.[2]


A statue of Tapiedi is installed among the niches with other 20th-century Christian martyrs over the west door of Westminster Abbey in London. His killer, taking the name Hivijapa Lucian, later converted to Christianity. He built a church dedicated to the memory of his victim at Embi. Another church taking Lucian Tapiedi as its patronal saint is St Lucian's Nine Mile in the Nine Mile Settlement of Port Moresby, north of Jacksons International Airport.

Tapiedi's grave is at Sangara station.


  1. 1.0 1.1 Jones Taugaloidi (Martyrs Day in 2004). "MARTYRS OF NEW GUINEA". Archived from the original on 2007-02-19. Retrieved 2008-10-26. 
  2. Alternatively, he is also said to have been “axed to death by the natives after he had returned to retrieve the station records box and some money.” Revd Dr Scott Cowdell (2004-08-31). "New Guinea Martyrs". St Paul’s Anglican Church, Canberra. Retrieved 2008-10-26. 

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