►On six occasions, Pope Francis has shown special regard for Blessed Justo Ukon Takayama (1552 Osaka-1615 Manila; beatified 2017).#
►#1 – ‘BUILD ON LEGACY OF MARTYRS’ — On March 20, 2015 — Pope Francis, in his message to Japanese Bishops during their “ad Limina” visit to the Vatican, urged them to build on the legacy of their martyrs – numbering 42 Saints and 393 Blessed. Dom Justo Ukon Takayama, a pillar of the early Jesuit missions in Japan was, at this time, a “Servant of God” — the first rung in the ladder to sainthood.#
►#2 — ‘DECREE OF MARTYRDOM’ — On Jan 21, 2016 – Pope Francis issued a “Decree of Martyrdom,” paving the way for Takayama’s immediate beatification.
►#3 — ‘WONDERFUL EXAMPLE OF STRENGTH IN THE FAITH’ — On Feb. 8, 2017 (the day AFTER the beatification rites of Blessed Takayama in Osaka), Pope Francis reflected on Ukon during his weekly General Audience in the Vatican’s Paul VI Hall: “Rather than compromise, Ukon renounced honors and prosperity and accepted humiliation and exile. He remained faithful to Christ and to the Gospel; for this, he is a wonderful example of strength in the faith and dedication in charity.”#
►#4 — ‘CHOOSING THE PATH OF EXILE’ — On Sept. 14, 2017 – Pope Francis sent a message to Japanese Bishops through Cardinal Fernando Filoni, Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples: “Whenever I think of the Church in Japan, my thoughts return to the witness of the many martyrs who have offered their lives for the faith. They always have a special place in my heart: I think of … Blessed Justus Takayama Ukon, who … preferred poverty and the path of exile rather than recanting the name of Jesus.”#
►#5 — ‘COMMENDING YOU TO BLESSED TAKAYAMA’ — On Dec. 8, 2018, Pope Francis appointed Osaka Cardinal Thomas Aquinas Manyo Maeda as his Papal Legate to the 60th Anniversary of the postwar reconstruction of the Manila Cathedral-Basilica: “And indeed desiring for you a heavenly companion in Manila, we … commend you to Blessed Justo Takayama Ukon, who is recently raised to the glory of the altars in Osaka.”#
►#6 — ‘PRAYER WARRIORS OF BLESSED TAKAYAMA’ — On July 25, 2019, Pope Francis imparts his Apostolic Blessing to the Prayer Warriors of Blessed Takayama. “With the assurance of his prayers, the Holy Father willingly imparts his Apostolic Blessing to you and all the Prayer Warriors of Blessed Takayama as a pledge of peace and joy in the Lord.”#
Dr. Ernesto A. de Pedro