Timeline of Lord Takayama’s Sojourn — and Martyrdom – in the Philippines

Lord Takayama and his family left Kanazawa in northern Japan on Feb. 15, 1614 to board a Chinese junk in Nagasaki -- with 350 Japanese Christian exiles -- bound for Manila, where he died on Feb. 3, 1615
Lord Takayama and his family left Kanazawa in northern Japan on Feb. 15, 1614 to board a Chinese junk in Nagasaki — with 350 Japanese Christian exiles — bound for Manila, where he died on Feb. 3, 1615

1614 — (Feb. 15) – Start of 353-day ‘Trek to Martyrdom’ of Lord Justo Takayama Ukon (1552-1615) from Kanazawa — to Death in Manila on Feb. 3, 1615.

1614 – (Dec. 21) — Lord Justo Takayama Ukon arrived in Manila with the first group of 350 Japanese Christians who sought refuge in the Philippines. The refugees were warmly welcomed by the Spanish Governor General, and the Archbishop of Manila. The Jesuits of the Philippines were hosts not only of Lord Takayama and his family, but also the “350 Japanese Christian exiles.”

1615 – (Feb. 3)After only 44 days in Manila, Lord Takayama died “of a tropical fever” on Feb. 3, 1615. The city declared nine days of mourning for him. He was interred near the High Altar of the Jesuit-owned Santa Ana Church in Intramuros, Manila.

1630 – (Oct. 5) — The Manila Archbishop proposed to the Vatican that Takayama be declared a saint – a Japanese Christian was being proposed to be the Philippines’ first saint! According to the rubrics of the Catholic Church — “where one dies, is where he is born to Heaven.” Thus, in the reckoning of the Catholic Church, Lord Takayama was a “Son of Manila.”

1937 – (Feb. 3 — 322nd death anniversary of Takayama) – The XXXIIIrd International Eucharistic Congress in Manila (Feb. 3-7) resolves to promote the “Cause for the Beatification of the Confessor of Christ, Justo Takayama Ukon.” The resolution was presented by the Japanese delegation co-headed by Rev. Fr. Paul Yoshigoro Taguchi, Director of the Japanese Catholic Press Bureau, and later Archbishop-Cardinal of the Diocese of Osaka.

1942 – (Sept. 20) – Memorial Mass to promote awareness that the Confessor of Christ, Justo Takayama Ukon, died in Manila in 1615. The Mass was celebrated at the San Marcelino Church (St. Vincent de Paul Parish Church) by Osaka Bishop (later Cardinal) Paul Yoshigoro Taguchi.

1963 – (April 24) – Japanese Bishops attending the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965) in Rome, visited Manila Archbishop Rufino J. Cardinal Santos (1908-1973) — at the Pontificio Collegio Filippino — to petition him to revive the ‘Cause for Sainthood of Takayama.’ With historical documents lost with the destruction of the Manila Archdiocesan Archives during WWII (1942-1945), Cardinal Santos deeded over the responsibility for the promotion to Osaka Archbishop Paul Yoshigoro Cardinal Taguchi. The Catholic Bishops Conference of Japan (CBCJ) formed a historical committee, headed by Fr. Hubert Cieslik, SJ, to write the official “Positio” about Takayama – as a “Confessor of Christ.”

1977 — (Nov. 17) – After joint Philippine-Japanese development in 1973-1977, with land donated by the City of Manila, and private contributions from the Japanese. the Takayama Memorial was inaugurated as the centerpiece of the Philippines-Japan Friendship Park, at Plaza Dilao, Paco, Manila. Lord Takayama was the historical figure chosen to exemplify Philippine-Japanese friendship. Takayama Ukon was recognized as “the epitome of the Japanese spirit”: Takayama’s “life illustrates a happy union of the valor of a Japanese warrior and the fidelity of an ardent Catholic. His brilliant military achievements, his moral integrity and deliberateness in critical moments, his dauntless spirit combined with a meek soul, his earnest zeal and piety expressed in his generosity and charity — all these should be noted as a fruit of the Christian missions.”

1979 — (Jan. 25) — The Manila-Takatsuki Sister City Pact was signed on Jan. 25, 1979. Takatsuki was the fief governed by Takayama for over 13 years. Here, he converted 18,000 of the castletown’s 20,000 inhabitants to Christianity. Since 1979, all Manila Mayors – Mayor Ramon S. Bagatsing (1972-1988); Mayor Gemiliano “Mel” Lopez (Appt. 1986-1987; elected 1988-1992); Mayor Alfredo S. Lim (1992-1998; 2007-2013); Mayor Jose “Lito” Atienza (1998-2007), and Mayor Joseph “Erap” Estrada (2013-2019) — have laid floral wreaths at the Takayama Memorial to commemorate Philippine-Japanese Friendship.

1992 — (Nov. 17) – Takayama Memorial was recognized – and listed — as a National Monument by the National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP).

1994 — (June 8) — The Roman Catholic Church declares the Christian Samurai, Justo Takayama Ukon, as a “Servant of God” — the first step to sainthood.

2014 – (July 14) — CBCJ submits a revised “Positio” about the Servant of God, Justo Takayama Ukon to the Congregation for the Causes of Saints – this time, as a Martyr.

2016 – (Jan. 21) – Pope Francis issues a Decree of Martyrdom for the Servant of God, Justo Takayama, recognizing that although he died in bed surrounded by his family, he had died a Martyr. The Jesuit Postulator-General, Fr. Anton Witwer, SJ, who presented the “Cause of Takayama” before the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, pointed out: “Since Takayama died in exile, because of the weakness caused by the maltreatments he suffered in his homeland, the process for beatification is that of a martyr.”

2017 – (Feb. 7) – Beatification of Justo Takayama Ukon in Osaka, by the Congregation for the Causes of Saints.

2017 — (March 28) — Second Takayama statue is installed and blessed at University of Santo Tomas (UST) — at the entrance of the Thomas Aquinas Research Complex (TARC), home of the UST Graduate School, which has been the center of Takayama Studies since 1989.

Paco Catholic Church, Manila
Paco Catholic Church, Manila

2017 – (Dec. 21) — On the 403rd anniversary of Lord Takayama’s arrival  in Manila in 1614, the first altar-size statue is installed at the Paco Catholic Church. The first Catholic church made of nipa was built by Franciscan missionaries in 1580 for Japanese expatriates. The swampy settlement had no name but as ‘Paco’ or ‘Paquito’ were the diminutives for Francisco, Paco became the name of the district. The present church was reconstructed from the ruins of World War II (1942-1945).

(On February 7, 2012, the Paco Catholic Church was designated as “Pro-Cathedral of the Archdiocese of Manila” until the structural renovations of Manila Cathedral-Basilica of the Immaculate Conception were completed on April 9, 2014.)

2018 – (Feb. 3) — FIRST FEASTDAY for Blessed Takayama. The liturgical calendar of the Roman Catholic Church designates February 3 as Ukon’s feastday – not only in the Philippines and Japan, but throughout the Catholic world. ◘

Dr. Ernie A. de Pedro
Managing Trustee
Lord Takayama Jubilee Foundation

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