December 21 is a Red-Letter Day in Philippine-Japanese History

►It marks the arrival on Sunday, Dec. 21, 1614 of the celebrated “Samurai of Christ,” Dom Justo Ukon Takayama (高山右近, 1552 Osaka-1615 Manila), former Daimyo of Takatsuki (1573-1585) and Akashi (1585-1587) — with the first boatload of 350 Christian deportees from Tokugawa Japan. Waves of Japanese “Migrants and Refugees” escaping persecution sought refuge in Catholic Manila for the next 262 years.

Fifteen years after Ukon died on Feb. 3, 1615, the Manila Archdiocese proposed to the Vatican that the Japanese-born Manileño be declared as the first Philippine saint.#

►The exodus of Japanese Christians from Japan to Manila was steady across some 262 years – as adherents of the Christian religion were hunted down in the most virulent extirpation of Christianity in world history. Without priests, without Sacraments, Japan’s remaining Christians went underground for centuries – passing on their core beliefs to generations of their descendants. These “Hidden Christians” have evoked the admiration and respect of many Popes – ♦Pope Francis among them. Osaka ♦Cardinal Thomas Aquinas Manyo Maeda came from one such family.#

►In 2018, the City of Manila recognized the Japanese-born Manileño, ♦Dom Justo Takayama as the “epitome of the Japanese spirit” and a “Son of Manila” — with the declaration of Dec. 21 every year as ♦“Blessed Takayama Ukon Day.”#   

►The keepers of Blessed Takayama’s memory in 2018 were: ● The Manila Archbishop [then-Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle] who first proposed to the Vatican on Oct. 5, 1630 – sainthood for the noble Christian samurai; ● the Japanese Embassy in Manila; ● City of Manila (which decreed every Dec. 21 as “Blessed Takayama Ukon Day”); ● Department of Tourism/NCR; ● Intramuros Administration and ● Blessed Justo Takayama Ukon Canonization Movement, represented by its corporate arm, ♦Prayer Warriors of Blessed Takayama.#

Fr. Carlo del Rosario

►In lieu of a candle-lit procession of pilgrims from Intramuros’ Postigo Gate to the Manila Cathedral, a Mass was celebrated by ♦Very Rev. Carlo del Rosario (*in photo), parochial Vicar and Assistant Parish Priest at the ♦San Fernando de Dilao Parish Church aka Paco Church (est. 1580), where Lord Takayama brought his Japanese converts for baptism.#

By Aida M. de Pedro
Auxiliary, Missionary Disciples for the New Evangelization

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