In Archives: 1942 Endorsement of Philippine Wartime Government for Beatification of Lord Takayama

Takayama Commemorative Mass, Sept. 20, 1942
After the Mass for the Beatification of Dom Justo Ukon Takayama celebrated by Osaka Bishop Paul Yoshigoro Taguchi at the San Marcelino Church, Ermita, Manila, on Sunday, Sept. 20, 1942, His Excellency, Jorge B. Vargas, Chairman of the Philippine Executive Commission, spoke at the reception at the convent of the Vincentian Fathers, adjacent to the church.
At center is Vargas (in white suit), flanked by Marquis Yorisada Tokugawa (1892-1954), adviser to the Imperial Japanese Expeditionary Forces. Next is Apostolic Delegate to Manila, Archbishop Guglielmo Piani, SDB (r. 1922-1948). To Vargas’ left is Bishop Taguchi, of the “Catholic Unit” of the Religious Section of the Japanese Propaganda Corps, beside Msgr. Cesar Ma. Guerrero, Auxiliary Bishop of Manila. Not in photo: Manila Archbishop Michael J. O’Doherty (r. 1916-1949).

YOUR EXCELLENCY, OFFICERS OF THE IMPERIAL JAPANESE FORCES, YOUR GRACE, YOUR LORDSHIPS, REVEREND FATHERS, LADIES AND GENTLEMEN:

We are gathered today to honor the memory of one united with us under the banner of the Catholic faith and whose image, by the grace of God, may, in the not distant future, adorn the altars of our Catholic churches.

Justo Ukon Takayama was the son of Dario Takayama, a native of Kyoto, the ancient capital of Japan. In 1565, when little Justo was eleven of age, his father was received into the Roman Catholic Church by the Jesuit Father Gaspar Vilela, and soon after Justo himself was baptized in the Catholic faith. Justo grew up to be a mighty captain. He became Lord (feudal  governor) — [first, at age 21, as Daimyo of Takatsuki, r. 1573-1585; and later] of Akashi, the fortress town commanding the entrance into the Inland Sea.

Of him it can be truly said that he had everything—family, social position, wealth—yet all these he abandoned to walk in the path of the Lord. The spiritual regeneration of men both by example and by precept became his life task. For his Lord he gave up everything and led a humble existence doing good everywhere he went. No doubt by the very simplicity of his Christian life and the ardor of his devotion to his faith, he attracted many to a life of virtue and faith.

This was the man who headed a group of Japanese Catholics who sailed to Philippine shores in the beginning of the 17th century. Though it was not given him to continue his evangelical labors in this country, for the Lord called him to His bosom shortly after his arrival in the Islands, yet so strong was his influence that those whom he left behind emulated his example and led lives of real Christian culture and self-abnegation.

The beatification of Justo Ukon Takayama will redound to the glory not only of Japan but also of the Philippines, where his mortal remains rest, and will serve to bind closer these two countries already held together in the indissoluble bond of racial and geographical affinity. Long obscured by foreign influence, we have been brought by the Greater East Asia War to a realization of this affinity. For many years, before the outbreak of the war, we had been made to regard our fellow Orientals, the Japanese, with distrust and trepidation, Fear of Japan was widespread and prevalent. The war, fortunately, has dispelled all our unfounded doubts. For instead of wreaking vengeance on those who took part in the war, the Imperial Japanese Forces have acted with unparalleled magnanimity, benevolence and generosity. Unnecessary loss of life and property has been meticulously avoided. Social institutions have been respected and preserved. Individual liberties, especially freedom of worship, have been guaranteed. Not only has the religious life of the Filipino people been allowed to continue free and uninterrupted, but a movement towards spiritual and moral regeneration was immediately begun and undertaken.

In these days of supreme effort and toil, when the spirit of self-sacrifice and other virtues should be made to triumph over materialism and other human failings, when our thoughts and acts should be sanctified by the noblest and loftiest of motives, the spirit of self-abnegation and other virtues that constituted the moral greatness of Justo Ukon Takayama should serve as an urge and an inspiration for the entire Filipino people.

In the great and urgent task of effecting in ourselves a spiritual regeneration, I deem the support and cooperation of the Church and of her ministers as important and necessary. Always in close contact with the people, with every sermon that they preach, every sacrament that they administer, every aid that they give, they hold the key to the hearts of the people and wield the power to revive and strengthen in their souls the spirit of self-sacrifice and self-discipline, the passion for honesty and for simple living, the love of God and of one’s fellowmen, and the other great virtues that have ever distinguished us as an oriental people.

On this solemn occasion, therefore, that we have consecrated to the memory of the famous Japanese leader whose life was devoted to the moral and spiritual improvement of his fellowmen, I appeal to the Church for the fullest support and cooperation in the sacred task of effecting the moral and spiritual regeneration of the Filipino people.#

Source: Office of the Solicitor General Library

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