►The ‘Samurai of Christ,’ Justo Takayama, is the third Beatus (Blessed) of the Philippines, his adopted country. Under the rubrics of the Catholic Church, “where one dies, is where one is born to Heaven.” Thus, Blessed Takayama is a “Son of Manila.” He was proposed for sainthood by the Manila Archdiocese on Oct. 5, 1630 – the first Catholic of heroic virtue to be proposed as saint by Manila – and he was a Japanese layman!
After Takayama’s Cause for Beatification had lain dormant for 333 years at the Vatican, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Japan (CBCJ) offered in 1963 – on the sidelines of the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965) — to revive the ancient cause and do the spadework. With the Philippine Church not having a native Filipino canonized a Saint yet, Manila Archbishop Rufino Cardinal Santos (1908-1973) – the Philippines’ first Cardinal — seconded the Takayama Cause to the Church of Japan on April 24, 1963.
In 12 years, the CBCJ’s Historical Committee produced the necessary supporting historical documents, all 30 chapters, and submitted these to the Jesuit General Postulator — in loose form — in 1975. These lay dormant – unread — for 11 years.
In a fortuitous development – a ‘happy accident’ — Manila had a part in the final preparation of the Takayama ‘Positio’ when a Filipino layman, researching at the Vatican on the Japanese daimyo, Don Justo Ukondono, was asked by the Jesuit General Postulator to undertake the translation of the entire Takayama documents — written in German, Spanish, Portuguese, Latin, and Japanese — into English. When Prof. Ernesto A. de Pedro, of the UST Graduate School, completed this task in 1994, the Jesuit General Postulator, Fr. Paulo Molinari, SJ, acknowledged: “Thanks to your much appreciated collaboration, all the essential materials for this important ‘Cause’ are by now available.”
That first ‘Positio’ proposed beatification for Takayama, as a Confessor (not as a Martyr). For the first time in Japanese church history, a candidate for sainthood was being proposed as a Confessor. (All previous Japanese candidates for sainthood were Martyrs.) Also, Takayama’s ‘Cause’ was also being promoted – for the first time in Japanese church history — on an individual basis, not as part of a group. All the previous 42 Japanese Saints and 383 Blessed were group martyrs.
In Rome, attending a Synod on Family, Manila Archbishop Jaime Cardinal Sin endorsed the Cause of Beatification for the ‘Samurai of Christ,’ Justo Takayama.
The Jesuit General Postulator, Fr. Paulo Molinari, SJ, submitted the bookbound ‘Positio’ — “Justus Takayama Ukon, Servus Dei” (1994, 648p) — to the Congregation for the Causes of Saints (CCS). The Takayama ‘Positio’ was granted a “Nihil Obstat” on June 8, 1994, giving Takayama the title “Servant of God” — the first of three formal steps to Sainthood.
After surveying the path forward, the Japanese Bishops decided that a Cause of Martyrdom for the Servant of God, Justo Takayama, was the quicker pathway – not requiring a years-long examination of Takayama’s life and heroic virtues – going back to the day of his baptism at 12, through his many battles as a samurai-general, his record as a pillar of the early Church of Japan, and his death in Manila. They submitted that Takayama’s accumulated trials resulted in his death in Manila just 44 days after his arrival. A death by martyrdom.
Pope Francis issued a Decree of Martyrdom (Jan. 21, 2016) declaring Takayama as a “loyal Japanese layman, who was martyred in Manila in 1615.” The Japanese Bishops quickly shared the development with Manila and acknowledged the help given by the Philippine Church to this four-centuries old campaign to elevate Takayama to the honors of the altar: “With your help, we have realized our hope. We are deeply thankful for your help.”
Bypassing the prescribed second step – Venerable — Takayama was beatified on Feb. 7, 2017 in Osaka (the prefecture where Takayama was baptized) – as the 426th Japanese Martyr venerated in the Roman Catholic Church – and the third Blessed of the Philippine Church.
Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle of Manila was the only other Cardinal invited by the Church of Japan to join Cardinal Angelo Amato, SDB, Prefect of the Congregation of the Causes of Saints, at the Concelebrated Mass at the historic Takayama Beatification Rites.#
Dr. Ernesto A. de Pedro