Blessed Justo Takayama Ukon


BORN in Haibara-cho, Nara, Japan, the Confessor of Christ, Justus Ukon Takayama (1552-1615), a Catholic layman of heroic virtue who was considered a pillar of the early Church of Japan, died in Intramuros, Manila on February 3, 1615 – only 44 days after he was exiled to Manila for refusing to abjure his Catholic faith. In 1630, a petition was presented to the Vatican by the Archdiocese of Manila for Takayama’s beatification. His Cause was revived at the Vatican in 1963 – with the Japanese Bishops in charge. The Takayama process was crowned with Beatification in Osaka on February 7, 2017.

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The Beatification of Blessed Justo Takayama Ukon

The Japanese “Servant of God” Justus Takayama Ukon (1552-1615) was beatified this afternoon, 7 February 2017, by Cardinal Angelo Amato, SDB, Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, on Pope Francis’ behalf, in Osaka, the prefecture of Takayama’s birth.

Blessed Takayama is now one step away from full sainthood.

Among Japan’s 42 Japanese Saints and 394 Blessed, only the Cause of Blessed Takayama Ukon was processed individually – a first instance in Japanese church history. All other Japanese Saints and Blessed are group martyrs, processed by the Vatican in four batches.

The Takayama Ceremony is the fifth Japanese beatification since (more…)

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Fate of a Christian Daimyo

By Diego Pacheco, SJ

In the summer of 1587, Toyotomi Hideyoshi was at the peak of his career. In a brilliant campaign, he had obtained the submission of the whole of Kyushu and was now encamped in a pine grove at Hakozaki, near the city of Hakata. There he planned the reconstruction of that city and parcelled out the conquered territories among his allies. It was there also that on the night of July 24, 1587, he placed his red seal on an edict which would later have far-reaching effects on the history of Japan for this proscription of Christianity was the foundation of all the other decrees which would eventually culminate in the Era of the Closed Country (sakoku jidai). (more…)

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Takayama Ukon – A Candidate for Canonization

By Fr. Johannes Laures, SJ

One of the greatest heroes of the glorious Martyr Church of Japan is undoubtedly the Catholic lay apostle, Justus Ukon Takayama (1552-1615), or Justus Ucondono, as he was usually called by missionaries. Although he greatly desired to shed his blood for Christ, he was not granted this honor, yet he sacrificed everything on three separate occasions for his Divine Master, was exiled to a foreign land (the Philippines) for the sake of his Faith, and died in Manila as a result of the hardships endured on the voyage to his exile.

Ukon Takayama was one of the greatest men of his era. He was (more…)

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Journeying with Lord Takayama

By Dr. Ernie A. De Pedro, Managing Trustee
Lord Takayama Jubilee Foundation

My ‘accidental’ involvement in the research on the life and times of Lord Justus Ukon Takayama (1552-1615) started in 1986 when four Japanese Protestant ministers from Kanazawa City (led by Rev. Minoru Yamagata) visited me looking for archival documents about the end-days of Lord Takayama in Manila. I was then the Director-General of the National Film Archives of the Philippines (1981-1989). The ministers had mistakenly thought I had access to the paper archives of the Philippines. I sent them off to the National Archives.

After a week of researching, they dropped by my office again, complaining they had found nothing. I told them the logical place to research was the Vatican Archives where the documents about Takayama were being kept. (more…)

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The Search for the Bones of Takayama Ukon

It is surprising that some people actually believe that the remains of Lord Takayama were buried in Plaza Dilao (the traditional nihon-machi of the Japanese) — the first Japanese daimyo interred on Philippine soil. Considering that the remains of the national hero, Dr. Jose Rizal, were buried beneath the Rizal Monument, it is an easy stretch to believe that this was the case with Takayama too. (The establishment of the Takayama Memorial in 1977 is told in “Plaza Dilao in History”). Believing that Takayama was buried in Plaza Dilao, some devotees “even collected some leaves and soil from Plaza Dilao as relics.” It is time to trace the remains of Takayama Ukon.


Lord Justus Ukon Takayama was buried in 1615 at the Santa Ana Church of the Jesuits in Intramuros – not the Santa Church of the Franciscans in Santa Ana district, which is often visited by Japanese pilgrims not reading Takayama’s history right. But the Jesuit church was destroyed by an earthquake between 1616-1625.

A new church was built in 1632 in the SAME SPOT, but was named after the Jesuit founder, St. Ignatius Loyola, SJ (1491-1556), who was canonized in 1622. But San Ignacio (I) – which was removed from the stewardship of the Jesuits since 1768 — was also destroyed by another earthquake on September 6, 1852, when the Jesuits were away.

  1. When the Jesuits were expelled from all Spanish domains by the Bourbon kings in 1768, Takayama’s tomb remained in place although the Jesuits were gone for some 91 years.
  2. When the Jesuits were allowed to return in 1859, they built a new church several blocks away from the old site, adjacent to the Archbishop’s Palace. This they also named San Ignacio (II). They transferred the remains of Lord Takayama and Lord Naito, as well as the Superior Generals of the Society of Jesus. Bone fragments of Takayama Ukon were part of the altar stone of the main altar – the rest of his bones were kept in a concrete niche in the crypt beneath the church floor.
  3. After the San Ignacio Church (II) was destroyed by a four-day fire started by Japanese troops in February 1945, and further damaged by American artillery shells fired from Guadalupe during the Battle for Manila (Feb. 3 – March 3, 1945), a Jesuit retrieval team from the Sacred Heart Novitiate in Novaliches, Quezon City, spent two separate days in December 1945 gathering ALL the bones from the niches, for transfer to the Jesuit Cemetery at the Novitiate. Alas, there were no separate containers for each niche’s contents.
  4. As there were no Filipino Jesuits among them – only Spaniards and Americans – and the two Japanese nobles – it might be possible to check out if Takayama Ukon’s remains are there. Modern DNA technology might determine if indeed Takayama’s remains were among them.



As soon as news reached Manila that a trading ship bound for Cambodia would unload some 150 Christian deportees in Manila, the Jesuits (more…)