Manila Tours for Japanese Pilgrims Tracing Lord Takayama’s Footsteps

Blessed Takayama Tour Medallions. First medal (left) shows Lord Takayama as a mounted samurai. The second is a double-sided medal featuring profile of Takayama -- from Manresa mosaic in Barcelona.
Blessed Takayama Tour Medallions. First medal (left) shows Lord Takayama as a mounted samurai. The second is a double-sided medal featuring profile of Takayama — from Manresa mosaic in Barcelona.

►Centered on Intramuros, the Tour Is for One or Two Days

THE CENTRAL FACT that Japanese pilgrims should remember when they tour Takayama’s Old Manila is that the Christian samurai, Justo Takayama Ukon (1552-1615) — proposed for sainthood by the Manila Archbishop in 1630; declared a “Servant of God” in 1994; recognized as a Martyr by Pope Francis in 2016; and beatified in 2017 – died in Manila in the Jesuit Compound in Intramuros. 

The Jesuit Compound in Intramuros

That Jesuit Compound is now occupied by the Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila (PLM, est. 1965) – which, though a government university, maintains a Catholic chapel in the area which used to house ♦ the Jesuit Iglesia Ana Church (1590-1625), later replaced by San Ignacio Church (No. 1), built in 1632 next to the earthquake-ruined church; ♦ Colegio de Manila (1590- ), renamed in 1626 as “Universidad de San Ignacio” (1626-1768), and ♦ Casa San Miguel, the Jesuit residence. Eleven years later, the Jesuits established in the same city block the ♦ Colegio de San Jose (1601- ) as a residential college for students studying at the Colegio de Manila. (San Jose Seminary is now located at the Ateneo compound in Loyola Heights, Quezon City). Japanese Christian exiles who arrived in 1614 continued their seminary studies in Manila – among them, Blessed Diego Yuki Ryosetsu (a seminarian ordained as a Jesuit priest in 1615, and martyred in “the pit” in Osaka in 1635) — at Colegio de San Jose.

In 1621, the Colegio de Manila was authorized by Pope Gregory XV to confer degrees in theology and arts. In 1626, the authorization was confirmed by Philip IV of Spain, who elevated the school into a university, thus making the Universidad de San Ignacio the first royal and pontifical university in the Philippines and in Asia.

Because he died at “Casa San Miguel,” Lord Takayama is considered by the Catholic Church as a “Son of Manila” — under the rubric that “where a man dies, is where he is born to Heaven.” Thus, the PLM is the actual site of the Martyrdom of Japan’s 436th venerated Martyr, who was proclaimed as Blessed on Feb. 7, 2017.

This distinguished historical record preceded the present-day stewardship (since 1965) of the former Jesuit compound by Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila (PLM).

Points of Interest for Japanese Tourists

For Japanese pilgrims tracing the footsteps of Lord Takayama Ukon in Manila, the Takayama Foundation developed “A Japanese Pilgrim’s Tour of Takayama’s Manila.” Depending on the time available, sites are selected by the tour coordinator from a checklist:

||| The Governor’s Galera (galley propelled by oarsmen) – which was dispatched to Bataan to pluck all the exiles on the demasted Chinese sampan — landed on the open beach fronting the Palace of the Governor-General Juan de Silva, as the whole city turned out “to see the men of whom such great things had been told.” The “Takayama 350” made their Manila Bay landing at the Governor’s Gate (named Postigo Gate only in 1662). The landing faced the open sea, with no walled defences yet in 1614. Only ships on business with the Governor or Manila Archbishop were allowed to debark there, for security reasons. All other commercial ships landed at the mouth of the Pasig River, and paid customs duties at the Aduana. Colin/Pastells notes — “as it was very late” — indicating that the Galera arrived at the Manila Bay landing in the afternoon.

The Governor sent his entire guard and many distinguished persons to escort the party from the landing to the palace. The galera signaled the arrival of Lord Takayama with a cannon and the artillery on the batteries of Fort Santiago answered in unison.

||| The Palacio del Gobernador – not the same building we have today — is where military honors were rendered to Lord Takayama by Spanish troops, passing in review. The troops were told: Make your marching very snappy; Ukon was Commanding General of Hideyoshi’s vanguard! The company of arquebusiers gave a salute with such precision that Lord Takayama who had been a samurai all his life, was greatly pleased and he praised the precision and dexterity with which the Spaniards handled their pieces.

The Plaza Mayor in front of the Manila Cathedral (renamed “Plaza Roma” when Manila Archbishop Rufino J. Santos became the first Filipino cardinal in 1960) was filled with welcomers — nobles, citizens and religious — dressed in their Sunday best, because in fact December 21, 1614 was a Sunday.

||| The exiles then ascended the palace’s stairs to meet the Governor, Manila Archbishop Diego Vázquez de Mercado (r. 16081616), the auditors of the Royal Audiencia and the highest ranks of citizens who were waiting. The Governor advanced with open arms to meet them and that first greeting and reception was accompanied by many tears from each party. There was a pleasant exchange of words and compliments in which Don Justo showed great courtesy and ease. As it was very late, they bade each other good-bye very courteously and Don Justo thanked the Governor for his charitable hospitality.

||| The Manila Cathedral (III) which had been rededicated only ONE week earlier in December 1614, is where the ancient Latin hymn of praise “Te Deum Laudamus” was sung to thank God for the Christian exiles’ deliverance from a perilous voyage: We praise thee, O God : we acknowledge thee to be the Lord. / All the earth doth worship thee : the Father everlasting. / To thee all Angels cry aloud : the Heavens, and all the Powers therein. / To thee Cherubim and Seraphim: continually do cry, Holy, Holy, Holy : Lord God of Hosts…”

As the “Te Deum” was the battle-hymn of “The 26 Martyrs of Nagasaki” (1597) as they, with their left ears lobbed off, were force-marched barefoot through the snow from Kyoto to Nagasaki — a distance of some 1,000 km passing through Sakai, Osaka, Hyogo, Akashi, Himeji, Okayama, Mihara, Hiroshima, Shimonoseki, Kokura, Shigashima, Hakata, Tokitsu, and finally, Nishizaka (Nagasaki) — which the martyrs (including the Franciscan missionary, St. Pedro Bautista, of San Francisco del Monte, Manila) covered in 27 days – it may be presumed that “Takayama’s 350,” who were all living on the edge of martyrdom, knew the Latin hymn by heart.

||| The Governor-General then placed his carriage at the disposal of Don Justo to bring him, his wife Justa, his daughter Lucia and his five grandsons to the Colegio San Jose (in the Jesuit compound now occupied by Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila.). Don Juan Ronquillo, with a guard of soldiers and an escort of noble persons, accompanied the carriage. Such a large crowd turned out to see the entourage that it was difficult to pass through the throng desirous of showing honor to the exiles. On its way to the Jesuit College, the cortege passed by San Agustin Church, where the bells were rung, and the clergy came to the doors, and music of various kinds greeted the Japanese.

Japanese pilgrims may want to visit the Tomb of Legazpi – at the ‘Capilla de Legazpi’ to the left of the Main Altar of San Agustin Church. The tomb of El Adelantado, the Spanish Governor-General Miguel Lopez de Legazpi (1502-1572), who died 43 years earlier, was the inspiration for Lord Takayama’s tomb – at the Jesuit Santa Ana Church (which was totalled by earthquakes in 1616-1625).

The Jesuit ‘Iglesia de Santa Ana’ (1590-1625) was the centerpiece of the Jesuit compound.
The Jesuit ‘Iglesia de Santa Ana’ (1590-1625), copied from the ‘Il Gesù Church’ (1568), the central church of the Jesuit order in Rome, was the centerpiece of the Jesuit compound in Intramuros, Manila

||| On reaching the Jesuit College, they dropped by the Santa Ana Church with the same festive sounds of bells and clarinets as in the other churches. Thence the party was conducted to the Jesuit refectory where they ate that day, and afterwards shown to some good houses near the Jesuit College which had been prepared for them. Everyone co-operated to show honor to the exiles in a manner in keeping with that first reception.

||| The site of the earthquake-ravaged Jesuit-owned Santa Ana Church, now the site of Pamantasan ng Maynila [City University of Manila] – where the original tomb of Takayama was located.

|||  The putative location of Takayama’s lodgings at the Jesuit-owned “Casa San Miguel” (as pinpointed by the Georgetown University archivist, Fr. W. C. Repetti, SJ) – where private townhouses now stand.

||| San Agustin Church — The Inner Court Garden is where Lord Takayama met with Japanese visitors bringing news from Japan.

|||  (OPTIONAL) The Bastion de San Francisco de Dilao (at the Muralla), whose four cannons were pointed at the Japanese community – showing that the cannons were aimed directly at the Manila City Hall, which was the original location of the Dilao community in 1592, when it was designated for Manila Japanese residents.

|||  (OPTIONAL) San Marcelino Church (St. Vincent de Paul Church) where a Memorial Mass for Takayama Ukon was celebrated on Sept. 20, 1942 by Osaka Bishop Paul Yoshigoro Taguchi, with Philippine government officials in attendance. At the side of the church is a marker (in the form of a Cross) commissioned by Ryohei Fujimoto to commemorate the first Japanese nihon-machi in Dilao. This was inaugurated on April 25, 2002 by Manila Mayor Jose “Lito” Atienza (r. 1998-2007).

||| Visit to the Paco Catholic Church (San Fernando de Dilao Parish Church) which ministered to a Japanese community of 3,000. The first altar-size statue of Blessed Takayama was enshrined here on Dec. 21, 2017 — 403 years after Ukon’s arrival in Manila.

|||  The UST Chapel (site of the annual Takayama Memorial Mass since 1991); site where one of the FOUR Japanese seminarians (from the Japanese Army’s Catholic Unit) who enrolled at the UST Central Seminary during World War II, was ordained a priest on January 5, 1945; where three Popes – Pope Paul VI (1970), St. Pope John Paul II (1981, 1995) and Pope Francis (2015) — have celebrated Mass.

|||  The Thomas Aquinas Research Center (also at UST), at whose entrance a Takayama statue stands.

||| The Takayama Memorial, inaugurated Nov. 17, 1977 at the Philippines-Japan Friendship Park at Plaza Dilao, Paco, Manila..

(LUNCH BREAK: After memento photographs are taken at the Memorial, the Tour breaks off for lunch at the Philippine Columbian Clubhouse, which serves a great menu of Filipino dishes.)

|||  Visit to the statue of the Our Lady of the Holy Rosary (“La Japona”) which was “rescued” and brought to Manila from Our Lady of the Holy Rosary Church in Nagasaki by Lord Takayama and is now enshrined as one of three iconic images of Our Lady of the Holy Rosary – (La Naval; La Mexicana, and La Japona) — at the Santo Domingo Church in Quezon City.

|||  (OPTIONAL) — A side trip to Takayama’s putative gravesite at the Jesuit Cemetery at the Sacred Heart Novitiate in Novaliches, Quezon City, where the remains of Jesuit niches (including presumably the bones of Lord Takayama and Lord Naito) at the bombed-out San Ignacio (II) Church in Intramuros were transferred in December 1945. (After bringing back to Japan in 2012 a number of bones from the two putative crypts, Kyoto Bishop Paul Yoshinao Otsuka (b. 1954- ), Chairman of the CBCJ Committee for the Promotion of Saints, concluded they could not make a definite determination – if indeed Takayama’s bones were among the remains in the crypts. But many Japanese pilgrims still opt to visit the Novaliches Jesuit Cemetery.)

To Japanese pilgrims making this tour, we present BRONZE MEDALLIONS with the legend: “IN THE FOOTSTEPS OF / JUSTUS UKON TAKAYAMA.” ◘

Managing Trustee
Lord Takayama Jubilee Foundation


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