Death of Blessed Justo Takayama (1552-1615) in Manila–Recounted by His Jesuit Father Confessor

Jesuits’ Santa Ana Church in Intramuros, where Blessed Justo Ukon Takayama was buried.

►Translated from P. Pedro Morejón, SJ, 1562-1639, “Relacion de la persecucion que huvo en la Yglesia de Japon y de los insignes Martyres, que gloriosamente dieron su vida en defensa de nuestra Santa Fe el año de 1614 y 1615.” Written in Spanish, and printed first at Mexico in the West Indies. (Mexico: Juan Ruiz, 1616).#

 ►Don Justo lived only 44 days after his arrival at Manila, and in that time, he was often visited by the Governor, by the Archbishop, by the religious men, and all the principal persons of the City — all of them conceiving a great love and affection towards him, and making no less esteem of him then his worthiness deserved.

But he, taking small delight in anything of this world, desired nothing so much as a house apart, where freed from visitation and compliments, he might without distraction attend to the chief business of his soul, saying he feared very much lest God would pay him in this life, for that small service some did imagine he had done Him.

It seems that Almighty God did mean to prove this His worthy soldier as He did His servant♦Job, and that he would honor him both in life & death in signe of the great crown he would give him in heaven, for his great courage and constancy in his faith.
For that either through the change of air & climate or differences of meats, or through the incommodities he had endured in his banishment and navigation (very contrary both to his nature, years, and complexion), he fell sick of a continuous fever, which in short time brought him to his end.

►He knew that this illness was mortal, and so he began to prepare himself for death, and said unto his Confessor: “Father, I percieve that I grow towards my end, although I make no show of it, so as not to discomfort my family. I am very well content, and comforted therewithall, it being Gods holy will and pleasure, especially among so many religious persons, and in so Christian a country as this is.

“I pray you render many thanks in my behalf unto the Lord Governour, the Archbishop, Judges, religious men, and all the rest, for the courtesy, favor, and honor they have shown me.

“As for my Wife, Daughter & Grandchildren take no care, for I take none at all: they and I am banished for Christ’s cause. I do much esteem the love they have always borne me, and that they would accompany me hither; I hope that Almighty God for whose sake they are now in a strange country, will be a true Father unto them, and so they shall have no want of me.”#

►He made a Testament, such another as holy♦Tobias did, commending unto them perseverance in their faith, and obedience unto the Fathers, and that if any of them did not do well, the rest should advise and counsel them, and tell the Fathers of them: and if they did not obey, they should be deprived of their inheritance, and of the name of his house & family.

This done he received the Holy Sacraments with great devotion: and after he was annointed, he said often times: “I desire now to go to enioy my Lord and Savior,” and so he gave his soul unto his Creator, about midnight of Tuesday, February 3, 1615.#

►In all the time of his sickness although it were very painful, he never showed the least sign of impatience in the world nor any fear at all, nor grief to leave his wife and grandchildren altogether unprovided for in a strange country — but with great quietness of mind, and conformity with the holy will of Almighty God.#

►Exceedingly great was the grief which generally all did show when this news of his death was published, lamenting on the one side the loss of so worthy a person whom they entirely loved, and whose example — if God had given him longer life — might have been a potent means for the conversion of his Country, whensoever he could return thereunto again: and on the other side, comforting themselves, having notice of his holy and happy death, all holding and esteeming him as a most noble and worthy Confessor of Christ.#

►He was buried in the ♦Santa Ana Church of the Society of Jesus (*see line etching of church), whose spiritual child he had always been.
There were present at his funeral all the Magistrates of the City both Ecclesiasticall and secular; all the religious men & the whole City, many kissing his hands in sign of great respect and reverence. At the taking of his body out of the house where it lay, there arose a pious contention who should carry his Coffin, every one being desirous to do that office, thereby to honor him.

At length it was agreed, that the Lord Governor & Judges should carry it unto the street that then the Citty together with the Confraternity of the♦Misericordia” (whereof Takayama was a Brother) should from thence carry it unto the Church, and that there the Superiors of the Religious Orders should take it & convey it to the place where it was to remain, during the time of the Office of the Dead.#

►The Clergy of the Cathedral Church did celebrate the Office both this day, and the day of his solemn funeral with great devotion: the like was done by the religious of the holy orders of♦St. Dominic, and♦St. Francis in their Monasteries, and by the♦Fathers of Augustinian Order in the College of the Society, they bringing thither to that end such costly ornaments, and doing all in that fashion, as might well have beseemed the funeral of a King.#

►Upon the 9th day after his death, all who had been present at his burial returned to his funerals, wherein after the holy sacrifice of the Mass ended was preached a notable sermon of the heroic virtues of♦Don Iusto, whose Exequies they then solemnized, to the great comfort and edification of all those present, but more in particular of the Japanese, of which there were in Manila more than a thousand persons at that time, who much rejoiced to see those so honored in a strange country, who for the faith of Christ were so afflicted and persecuted in their own.#

►After the death of♦Don Justo, his wife,♦Sra Justa Kuroda Takayama (高山ジュスタ), Ukon’s daughter,♦Lucia Yokoyama, and five grandsons (8-16) remained with sorrow and affliction, as well as Takayama’s comrade-in-arms,♦Don Iohn Nayto-dono — old and sickly with many Children and Grandchildren. Don Thomas Naito (Don Juan Naito’s eldest son) in like manner, as also the Lady Julia Naitō (内藤 ジュリア, 1566 – March 28, 1627) was with her Gentlewomen of the Jesuit-chaplained Catholic congregation ♦Miyako no bikuni (est. 1606), better known as the “Beatas of Miyako (i.e. Kyoto)” — the only such women’s group in Japan’s Christian Century.

All of them in a strange country, not having any wherewithal to help themselves, the Governor ♦Don Juan de Silva with the counsel and advice of the Judges and others of the King’s officers, at the petition of the City and religious persons thereof, did in the name of his Majesty provide them of all things necessary for their sustenance with great liberality, during the time they were to remain in that City: which all these Eastern parties were in great praise of the Christian piety, as also of the liberality of his Catholic Majesty, who doth so bountifully provide & carefully defend those that suffer for the only true and Catholic Religion.#

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