University of Santo Tomas (UST) – and the ‘Cause of Takayama’ It Nurtured

Lord Justo Ukon Takayama (1552-1615) became Daimyo (feudal governor) of Takatsuki at 21.

►For Dr. Ernesto de Pedro, the Takayama Canonization Movement started out as a research paper – to explain to visiting Japanese why Lord Takayama was chosen as the centerpiece of the Philippines-Japan Friendship Park at Plaza Dilao in 1977.

In 1986, a group of Japanese history buffs asked De Pedro to find out who Takayama was – whether he was an actual historical figure – or whether he was the composite of several Japanese medieval heroes. It was then rumored that Takayama was also a candidate for sainthood in the Catholic Church, but nobody knew whether there was any basis for that pious talk.

Official portrait shows Servant of God Justo Takayama, offering sword-crucifix in the service of Christ.

To De Pedro’s surprise, the Vatican Archives confirmed that the Manila Archdiocese had proposed on Oct. 5, 1630 the beatification of the exiled Japanese Christian samurai, Dom Justo Ukon Takayama – as the first ever candidate for sainthood from the Philippine Church. Under Church rubrics, “where one dies, is where one is born to Heaven.” Thus, Takayama was considered a “Catholic of heroic virtue” — from Manila.

The Vatican had a carton-box-full of historical documents about Takayama written in several languages – but Vatican study on them could not proceed till they were all translated to Latin or English. Could De Pedro undertake the translation – “pro-bono” — within two years?

Of course, De Pedro accepted the assignment. Then, the Jesuit General Postulator, Fr. Paolo Molinari, SJ., added: After the papers are translated, could De Pedro join the historical committee that would discuss the life and heroic virtues of Takayama? (A BSBA graduate, invited to sit at a Vatican history panel?)

PhD at U.S.T.

Upon his return from Rome, De Pedro felt compelled, at age 50, to earn a PhD in History at the Graduate School of the University of Santo Tomas (UST) – where he later taught.

After the Takayama papers were submitted to the Congregation for the Causes of Saints (CCS), Takayama was declared a “Servant of God” on June 5, 1994.

Having passed the FIRST of four canonical steps to sainthood — the three other steps being ● Venerable, ● Blessed, then ● Saint – it was necesssary for supporters of the “Cause of Takayama” to grow devotion for the Servant of God, Justo Ukon Takayama, in the City of Manila — where he died (i.e., “where he had been born to Heaven.”)

Support Organization at U.S.T.

At this point, De Pedro realized that in Manila, where Takayama had died in 1615, there was no Manila-based support for the “Cause of Takayama.” He would have to organize one himself — with his alma mater, the University of Santo Tomas, as its core.

►In 1988, De Pedro incorporated the Lord Takayama Jubilee Foundation. (Sept. 29, 1988)

►After obtaining from Oxford University a copy of the English biography of Takayama, “A Briefe Relation of the Persecution Lately Made Against the Catholike Christians, in the Kingdome of Iaponia” (Saint-Omer, France: English College Press, 1619. 350p) written by Takayama’s Jesuit father-confessor, Padre Pedro Morejon, published four years after Takayama’s death in Manila — De Pedro ventured to lecture in Japan about Takayama. From the lecture fees he earned, he endowed the “Lord Justus Takayama Professorial Chair in Philippine-Japanese Studies” (Feb. 4, 1989) at UST.

The first Takayama Lecture was delivered by Dr. Florentino H. Hornedo on Feb. 3, 1990. Twenty-five years later, Dr. Hornedo was again invited to deliver the Takayama Lecture in 2015.

After 31 years, the Chair still has P429,814.38 — as of Nov. 30, 2017.

Samurai-General Ukon Takayama fought his battles under the banner of the Cross.

►At UST Graduate School, De Pedro organized two International Symposia on Lord Takayama (in 1989 & 1998), which attracted scholars from Japan, the United States, the Vatican and the Philippines.

►When the “Takayama Garden Restaurant” at Greenhills, San Juan City, relocated to Jupiter St., Makati, De Pedro persuaded the owners to donate the Takayama statue that was at the center of the restaurant to UST. This statue now stands at the entrance of the Thomas Aquinas Research Complex (TARC).

New market for Takayama statue in University of Santo Tomas
A Takayama statue stands at the entrance of the Thomas Aquinas Research Complex (TARC), UST Graduate School.

Promotion of ‘the Cause’

►Since 1988, UST Chapel has been the venue for annual Takayama Memorial Masses – with Filipino and Japanese Cardinals and ApostolicNuncios as celebrants.

►Since 1988, De Pedro has organized Takayama Pilgrim Tours for Japanese. The largest tour group so far has been 280. The Department of Tourism goal is to produce one tour group of 350 Japanese Pilgrims — which is the same number as the Christian exiles in Takayama’s exile boat.

Seven (7) bishops out of Japan’s 16 dioceses, including Osaka Cardinal Thomas Aquinas Manyo Maeda, have already visited Takayama’s “Old Manila.” This Takayama Pilgrimage includes a visit to the Takayama Shrine at UST and to the San Domingo Priory in Quezon City to see “La Japona,” the statue of Our Lady of the Rosary that was escorted back to Manila by Lord Takayama on board his exile boat.

►On Nov. 17, 1992, De Pedro secured from the National Historical Commission the declaration of the Takayama Memorial (established in 1977) as a National Monument.

►On Dec. 21, 2018, recognizing Takayama as a “Son of Manila,” Manila City Hall declared December 21 every year as “Blessed Takayama Ukon Day.”

►To spread information about Takayama, De Pedro manages the Takayama website: www.takayamaukon.com.
On Facebook, the ‘Takayama Cause’ is on the FB Page: //justotakayamaukon.

Ultimate Test

►The late Osaka Cardinal Paul Yoshigoro Taguchi has cited Takayama as “the epitome of the Japanese spirit.”

The Japanese historian, Anesaki Masaharu, summed up the significance of Takayama: “Justo Ukon Takayama’s life illustrates a happy union of the valor of a Japanese warrior and the fidelity of an ardent Catholic. His brilliant military achievements, his moral integrity and deliberateness in critical moments, his dauntless spirit combined with a meek soul, his earnest zeal and piety expressed in his generosity and charity — all these should be noted as a fruit of Christian missions.”

“Takayama’s life was a happy union of the valor of a Japanese warrior and the fidelity of an ardent Catholic.” ~ Anesaki Masaharu, Japanese historian

►In all of these developments, the University of Santo Tomas has been the “de facto” center of the Takayama movement. The final test of history is whether at the end of our endeavors, all this research will result in the ultimate canonization of Blessed Justo Takayama, Son of Manila.#

Dr. Ernesto A. de Pedro
Takayama Trustee

Takayama 12-Inch Replicas for Home-Altars Now Available through St. Paul’s Network

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►Among the first to be presented with a resin-fiberglass statuette of Blessed Takayama was Pope Francis, who had issued the “Decree of Martyrdom” on Jan. 21, 2016, declaring the “Servant of God” Dom Justo Ukon Takayama (1552-1615) as a “layperson … from Japan [who] died from the hatred of the Faith on Feb. 3, 1615 in Manila, Philippines” – thus laying the groundwork for Takayama’s beatification in Osaka on Feb. 7, 2017. Blessed Takayama died (i.e., “was born into Heaven”) in Intramuros, Manila – and was the FIRST Catholic to be proposed for Sainthood at the Vatican by the Manila Archdiocese on Oct. 5, 1630. Takayama was Japanese, not Filipino – but certainly a “Philippine saint.”#

Who Was Dom Justo Ukon Takayama? A Brief Write-Up

Official portrait of Blessed Takayama — chosen by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Japan (CBCJ)

►The story of the celebrated “Samurai for Christ” — Dom Justo Ukon Takayama (1552-1615) — is of enduring interest for all people of faith. Why has this Japanese Christian of heroic virtue resonated so well among so many devotees?

Here’s a summary

►One of the greatest heroes of the martyr Church of Japan is undoubtedly the Catholic lay apostle, Justus Ukon Takayama (1552-1615), or Justus Ucondono, as he was usually called by missionaries. Although he greatly desired to shed his blood for Christ, he was not granted this honor, yet he sacrificed everything on three separate occasions for his Divine Master, was exiled to a foreign land (the Philippines) for the sake of his Faith, and died in Manila as a result of the hardships endured on the voyage to his exile.

Ukon Takayama was one of the greatest men of his era. He was an able ruler (as Daimyo, or governor of Takatsuki and later, of Akashi), a great general, an ingenious strategist, a master of the tea ceremony, a harmonious personality, and above all, an exemplary and saintly Christian.

He preached the Gospel among Japanese Buddhists — (which the Takayama family professed until their conversion and baptism in 1564) –better than many of the Jesuit missionaries. His amiable and attractive personality and, more striking, his blameless life, attracted numerous souls to the fold of the Good Shepherd. Not only did he convert his vassals and subjects to the Catholic Faith, but a number of the greatest personalities of his era were also won over by his entreaties and example to the cause of Christ. Gamo Ujisato, Kuroda Yoshitaka, Hosokawa Gracia were the most outstanding of them, but there were many others whose number and identity is known to God alone.

Ukon’s unblemished chastity was so generally admired even his enemy, Hideyoshi (who ruled Japan 1583-1598) could not but admire it.

‘Samurai for Christ’

As a samurai-daimyo devoted to Christ, Ukon Takayama professed his Faith openly — fighting his battles under the Sign of the Cross.

When the hegemon Oda Nobunaga (r. 1574-1582) threatened to massacre all the Christians and destroy their churches unless Ukon handed over to him the strategic castle of Takatsuki (in Osaka prefecture), the heroic champion of Christ, without hesitation, renounced his domain and betook himself to Nobunaga, with shaved head — ready to die with the missionaries and Christians. Doing this, he fully realized the terrible danger to which he exposed the lives of his only son and his little sister, who were hostages held by his suzerain Araki Murashige. God took the will for the deed, saved Ukon’s life, spared his hostages and secured for him Nobunaga’s admiration and good graces.

When Toyotomi Hideyoshi (who succeeded Nobunaga) suddenly turned persecutor in 1587, Ukon Takayama was called upon either to deny his Faith, or lose his fief, and he gladly gave up everything rather than turn traitor to his Divine Master.

For several years, he was in fear of his life; even after Hideyoshi’s wrath had cooled, he never again became a ruling daimyo but lived in relative obscurity as a guest samurai-general of the Maeda rulers at Kanazawa.

In 1614, Tokugawa Ieyasu resolved to exterminate Christianity — “that evil religion” — and Ukon Takayama was again among the first victims. Since the tyrant could not hope to make him apostatize, he exiled him to a foreign land, calculating that he would not long survive the rigors and hardships of the voyage. The fact that Ukon died a few weeks after his arrival at Manila shows most clearly that Ieyasu’s calculation has been only too correct. Thus Ukon Takayama had the satisfaction of giving up his life for the Divine Master.

In the estimation of his contemporaries, Ukon Takayama was a saintly man. After he had been deposed as Lord of Akashi (in 1587), he was now freer to preach the Gospel — ready to be killed for his Faith. When he visited Kyushu, the Christians there venerated him as a martyr.

Exiled to Manila

In Manila, he was welcomed with religious enthusiasm, for everyone was well aware of the honor of giving hospitality to a renowned Confessor of the Faith. His premature death on February 3, 1615 caused general mourning and regret that Manila had been deprived of the presence of a man of God. His funeral in Intramuros, accorded by Church and State, was a great tribute to him, underscoring that an outstanding Servant of God had passed to a better life.

Cover of a new DVD on Blessed Takayama. No English version is available yet.

‘Son of Manila’

The Archdiocese of Manila (as the diocese where Takayama died (or was “born to Heaven”) first presented to the Pope a petition for the beatification of Ukon Takayama in 1630 — only 15 years after he died. This was the FIRST EVER petition for sainthood sent to the Vatican from the Philippine Church!

Many who have remembered this heroic champion of Christ across the centuries continue to pray fervently that Ukon Takayama would someday be raised to the honors of the Altar, and thus be set as a model for young people.#

Dr. Ernesto de Pedro
Takayama Trustee

 

Photo Album on ‘First Mass’ in Birthplace of Ukon Takayama – in Toyono-cho, Osaka

►For the  first time since the “Samurai for Christ,” Blesseed Justo Ukon Takayama (高山右近, 1552-1615) was born in Takayama Village, in Toyono-cho, Osaka Prefecture — the Municipal Government of Toyono-cho (a 100% Shinto-Buddhist town) invited Osaka Cardinal Thomas Aquinas Manyo Maeda to celebrate Mass there.  Cardinal Maeda – the lone Cardinal in Japan’s Catholic hierarchy – brought six priests to concelebrate with him – as well as parishioners (including nuns) from ● Ashiya, ● Kishiwada, ● Nigawa, ● Osaka-Umeda. ● Sakai, ● Sennan, and ● Shukugawac — who wanted to participate in the historic occasion.

The program was hosted by ● “Honor-Ukon-Takayama-Couples-Gathering” — in collaboration with the Buddhist-based ● “Ukon Takayama Canonization Promotion Committee.”

It was both a civic celebration — and a Catholic special event

On behalf of the municipal government, Welcome Remarks were delivered by Hon. Isao Ikeda, Toyono Town Mayor.

The Opening Remarks were followed by the presentation of a Plaque of Appreciation & gifts
Handbell performance by students of the Assumption School.

Cardinal Maeda Composed Four ‘Haiku’ for the Occasion

►The “haiku” is a traditional Japanese short poem (with 5-7-5 syllables) — practised by both Lord Justo Ukon Takayama and Cardinal Thomas Aquinas Manyo Maeda. A multi-faceted artist, Takayama Ukon is said to have mastered the three forms of Japanese poetry: ◘ the song (“waka”), ◘ the linked verse (“renga”), and ◘ the epigram (“haiku”). ~ Heinrich Dumoulin, 2005

A celebrated ‘Haiku’ poet, Cardinal Maeda composed four ‘Haiku’ to mark  the Special Event.

► Cardinal Maeda’s message after the awarding of plaque of appreciation:

豊能町

高山右近

致命祭

Toyono-chou
Takayama Ukon
Chimeisai

In Toyono Town
Oh Ukon Takayama
Feast of the martyrs

高山の

右近夫婦や

冬の虹

Takayama no
Ukon fuufu ya
Fuyu no niji

Ukon and his wife
Both hailed from Takayama
Rainbow of winter

► During Cardinal Maeda’s homily:

右近忌の

主君はイエス

平和かな

Ukon-ki no
Shukun wa Iesu
Heiwa ka na

With Ukon’s passing
Jesus was his Master
This is peace indeed

剣に変え

十字架を手に

右近忌や

Tsurugi ni kae
Juujika wo te ni
Ukon-ki ya

Instead of a sword
Held a crucifix at hand
Passing of Ukon #

First Eucharistic Mass in Toyono-cho was celebrated on Feb. 16

Cardinal Maeda enters the “Ukon-no-Sato” (Takayama community center)
The “Ukon-no-Sato” (Takayama community center) is a multi-purpose venue for events

►The visit of Osaka Cardinal Thomas Aquinas Manyo Maeda on Feb. 16, 2019 to “Ukon-no-Sato” (Takayama Community Center in Takayama Village, Toyono-cho was NOT a “return to Christianity” – Christianity never took root there, not even in Ukon’s time (1552-1615). It has remained Shinto-Buddhist till today although the town’s most celebrated son is Ukon Takayama, a revered Christian Samurai..

In the first feedback from a Buddhist official of Toyono-cho, Megumi IMAIZUMI, who sent in some photos, shares: “The ceremony went well, the Mass was solemn and moving…”

A large number of the congregation lined up to receive Holy Communion — from three priests. For a community hearing Mass for the first time, how could that be? It turns out that parishioners (including nuns) of Shukugawa Catholic Church and six other parishes attended the Toyono-cho “First Mass.”

Toyono-cho — and the Ukon Takayama Couple

►In 2016, townmates built granite statues to honor Lord Ukon Takayama and Lady Justa Kuroda Takayama in Toyono-cho (Osaka), birthplace of Ukon Takayama (1552-1615). This is the first representation seen of Mrs. Takayama.

The granite statues serve as backdrop for many Special Events, particularly the yearly reenactment of the wedding of Ukon to Justa Kuroda

Though Ukon spent his boyhood years — as “Takayama Hikogorō (彦五郎) in Takayama Village — the Takayama family had moved to Sawa Castle when his father Takayama Tomoteru (1531–1596) became the castle-lord of Sawa Castle in Haibara-cho, Nara Prefecture. In Sawa Castle, Hikogorō – now 12 — joined his father and other members of their family in converting to Christianity.

The Sawa Castle castle was situated at the summit of the mountain southwest of Mt. Inasa as the headquarters for the Sawa Family, which supplied one of the three leading generals of the Uda district between 1346-1370.  But, as the stone marker shows, its importance as a medieval-age castle comes from its having been the boyhood residence of the Christian daimyo (feudal clan lord), Takayama Ukon, as written in “History of Japan” by the Portuguese missionary, Luis Frois, SJ (ca. 1532-97). All that remains of Sawa Castle is a historical marker — with Ukon’s name engraved on it.

Toyono-cho marker — with name of Ukon Takayama engraved

Maria Leona Nepomuceno, currently the attaché and director for West Japan of the Philippines’ Department of Tourism (DOT) in Osaka, who brought the first two Toyono-cho pilgrims to Manila in 2017 and 2018, was invited to attend the Feb. 16 ceremonies. She was warned that it would be very cold and was told to wear snow boots. February is the coldest month in Japan.

Four Seasons in Toyono-cho, Osaka

A look back at a snow-covered hut in vegetable field
Stillness overlooking rice fields
A path with morning dew
Covered with gentle sun light
Village in autumn … Buck wheat flower and cosmos
Candle night — on the night of Ukon’s festival in October

Memento Photo of ‘First Mass in Toyono-cho’ with Cardinal Maeda

This is the first of many groups who wanted to have a memento photograph with Cardinal Maeda

With the inspiring memory of Blessed Takayama guiding his townmates who are studying his long journey into exile, the quest for The Word is just now starting.

By Dr. Ernesto A. de Pedro
Takayama Trustee

Promoting “Canonization of Blessed Takayama” — with Spread of Altar-Statues

Osaka Cardinal Thomas Aquinas Manyo Maeda venerating official image of Blessed Takayama at the Manila Cathedral

►The first order for an altar-statue of Blessed Takayama from outside the Philippines came from – surprise! — “Saints Peter & Paul Catholic Church” (est. 1865) in Wilmington, California.

Another Takayama statue being blessed by Manila Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle

As in ALL past orders, there’s a Pinoy element involved. Pinoy parishioners pooled resources to make the amount – which they presented to their pastor.

Takayama altar-statue installed at the Manila Cathedral-Basilica

►Fr. Hildebrand Garceau, O. Praem., pastor of St. Peter and St. Paul Church, in Wilmington, California wrote on January 18: “We hope you will provide an official image of Blessed Takayama for our parish. We have an active community of parishioners who are devoted to Blessed Takayama and want to promote his canonization.”

St. Peter and St. Paul Church, in Wilmington, California

►For this particular acquisition by the Wilmington Parish Church, there was a Badoc connection.

Several residents of Long Beach and Wilmington, CA – who originated from Badoc, Ilocos Norte – were flying home to attend the elevation on Feb. 5 of the Badoc Parish Church to a Minor Basilica – and the dedication of a side altar to ● Blessed Justo Ukon Takayama (1552-1615), who was martyred in Manila, with another for ● San Lorenzo Ruiz (1600-1637), Pro-Martyr of the Philippine Church.

Active parishioners energize their parishes!#

Dr. Ernesto A. de Pedro
Takayama Trustee

Add Your Mite to the ‘Takayama Altar-Statue Fund’

Osaka Cardinal Thomas Aquinas Manyo Maeda viewing the first “new” altar-statue of Blessed Justo Ukon Takayama on Dec. 8, 2018, when he represented Pope Francis as Papal Legate to the 60th Jubilee Celebration of the Manila Cathedral

►As our Manila-based movement for the Canonization of Blessed Takayama distributes sponsored statues to 💒 cathedrals, 💒 churches, 💒 convents and 💒 shrines, it is costing a little something to produce, crate and ship out — but not much.

To add your “mite” to the “TAKAYAMA ALTAR-STATUE FUND,” please contribute the cost of a ramen lunch / or a burger to: ◘ MetroBank (Philippines) — for credit to “Blessed Justo Takayama Research Service” – Acct. No. #347-3-34757405-9. Please email a CP photo of your remittance to <ernestodepedro@gmail.com>. Acknowledgement will be made by PM or email. An official receipt will be issued — if a street or P.O. address is indicated.

Manila Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle — blessing a Blessed Takayama image to mark the celebration of the 404th anniversary of the arrival of Lord Takayama and 350 Christian exiles from Japan — on Dec. 21, 2018.

Whether your parish church is in the Philippines, Japan or the United States (where Takayama statues have been installed) – or any diocese where there is a devotion to Blessed Takayama – we will find ways to ship a replica of the Takayama Statue that was installed at the Manila Cathedral-Basilica on Dec. 8, 2018 — Feast of the Immaculate Conception of Mary and 60th Jubilee of the reconstruction and dedication of the postwar Manila Cathedral (1958).

Blessed Takayama is just ONE miracle away from Canonization. With your fervent prayers and your support – and if it be the will of God — we will have a new, singular intercessor for God’s grace in the name of Our Lord Jesus Christ — in this Christian samurai of heroic virtue who died a martyr in Manila on Feb. 3, 1615.#

Dr. Ernesto A. de Pedro
Takayama Trustee

Takayama Iconography 101: What Did Ukon Look Like?

What did Blessed Justo Ukon Takayama (1552-1615) really look like? It depends on the artist!

►Here are iconic samples:

● 36” woodcarving by celebrated Paete artist Paloy Cagayat at the Manila Cathedral (2018).

● Painting by Utagawa Yoshiiku (1833-1904).

● Painting by Domoto Insho at main altar of the Osaka Cathedral (1964).

● 12-ft bronze statue by Johannes Masaaki Nishimori at the Philippines-Japan Friendship Park in Plaza Dilao, Paco, Manila (1977).

● Book cover for “Kirishitan Daimyo: Takayama Ukon” by Shinzuke Tani (published by the Daughters of St. Paul, 1979).#

►Our favorite Takayama illustration – because it combines a “Kirishitan samurai” and a large Cross that was his “Cause” – is a sketch in the book “Kirishitan Daimyo: Takayama Ukon” by Shinzuke Tani (Tokyo: The Daughters of St. Paul, 1979).

► ● The official portrait of Ukon Takayama used at the 2017 Beatification Rites at Osaka-jo Hall.

► ● Sustaita

►Manga (Japanese comics) fans may prefer this new painting by Shinrin Sam Bros (2019).#

►When a parish / chapel / shrine needs an altar-statue of Blessed Justo Ukon Takayama, this 36” statue (shown being blessed by Manila Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle) is what we supply.

For those wanting to have the 36” altar-statue — (the only model currently in production) – please indicate the name of the requesting parish or shrine — and email this to [ernestodepedro@gmail.com]

In ‘Arc of Grace,’ the First Eucharistic Mass Reaches Ukon’s 1552 Birthplace

►The town of Toyono-cho spent months preparing for this historic celebration that honors their most illustrious townmate who has earned a worldwide reputation as a Christian of heroic virtue — worthy for other people to emulate.

The Christian Samurai, Justo Ukon Takayama — born in Toyono-cho, Osaka Prefecture ~ Painting by Shinrin Sam Bros (2019)

►Osaka Archbishop Thomas Aquinas Manyo Cardinal Maeda — who was entrusted by Pope Francis to the patronage and protection of Blessed Justo Takayama when he served as Papal Legate to Manila during the 60th Jubilee Celebration of the Postwar Reconstruction of the Manila Cathedral (Dec. 8, 2018) – is celebrating the historic Mass.

Could the Shinto-Buddhist townmates of Ukon really appreciate the Catholic ceremony?

Fortunately for them — for two years running — Toyono-cho representatives  (all Shinto / Buddhists) have visited Manila to touch base with Manila Mayor Joseph “Erap” Ejercito Estrada, and Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle – as they trace the footsteps of their illustrious son, Ukon Takayama – ● once in July 2017 to attend the Philippine Conference of New Evangelization (PCNE-4) and ● another Takayama Pilgrimage led by then-Archbishop Maeda in April 2018.

Japanese pilgrims joining Takayama Pilgrimages to Manila attend Mass fervently at the Manila Cathedral — Catholics and Buddhists alike.

Whenever they attended Masses – at the Manila Cathedral and at the Santísimo Rosario Parish (UST Chapel) – they prayed with profound reverence. They watched the wafting of incense — that’s a universal symbol of worship in every religion.

When Catholics pray during Mass: “Lord, from the rising of the sun to its setting, your name is worthy of all praise. Let our prayer come like incense before you. May the lifting up of our hands be as an evening sacrifice acceptable to you, Lord our God” – that prayer expresses a universal sentiment across all religions.

Preserving Ukon’s Memory

►Toyono-cho has erected two giant granite statues of Justo Ukon Takayama and his wife, Dona Justa Kuroda Takayama.

This is the firs representation of the Takayama couple together.

►They keep Ukon’s memory alive by establishing a town-hall — “Ukon-no-Sato” (Takayama Community Center) in Takayama Village, Toyono-cho.

Two active promoters of Ukon’s memory are: ● “Honor-Ukon-Takayama-Couples-Gathering” and ● “Ukon Takayama Canonization Promotion Committee.”

The town-hall — “Ukon-no-Sato” (Takayama Community Center) in Takayama Village — treasures ● a statue of Lord Takayama sourced from the “Prayer Warriors of Blessed Takayama” in Manila, and ● a copy of the Vatican Parchment sent by Pope Sixtus V to “Justo Ucondono” in 1590.

This Apostolic Blessing, sent by Pope Sixtus V in 1590, was retrieved from the Vatican Archives by a team of Jesuit researchers, headed by Sophia University’s Fr. Hubert Cieslik, SJ.

►Yearly, they reenact Ukon’s wedding — giving everyone a chance to strut off their finest medieval wardrobe.

The “Takayama Wedding” is an annual special event that the Toyono-cho townspeople look forward to.
The Wedding of Ukon Takayama.
The reenactment is with great fidelity to historical details.

Grave of Maria Takayama is Part of Toyono-cho Heritage

►The grave of Ukon’s mother — Maria Takayama — wife of Tomoteru Takayama (高山友照), later known as Darius Zusho Takayama (1531–1596), is located in Toyono-cho, where it is a tourist attraction to this day.

The gravesite of Maria Takayama (d. 1596), mother of Blessed Justo Takayama, still draws domestic tourists today to the ancestral Takayama Village in Toyono-cho, Osaka Prefecture. (@Yui Yamada, Philippine Department of Tourism-Osaka).

Maria Takayama was the mother of three Takayama sons, the eldest being Justus (and thus heir), and three daughters. When Ukon was stripped of his feudal domain in Akashi (1587), Maria joined Ukon during his 27-year domestic exile in Kanazawa — but when she died in 1596, the Takayama family chose to bury her in the ancestral village of Takayama in Toyono-cho, Osaka Prefecture. (That’s an acknowledgement by the Takayama family themselves that Toyono-cho, Osaka Prefecture was their hometown.)

Cardinal Maeda Visits Toyono-cho Feb. 16, 2019

►An unprecedented Eucharistic Mass commemorating Ukon’s birthplace and the Beatification of Blessed Justo Ukon Takayama on Feb. 7, 2017 will be officiated by Osaka Archbishop Thomas Aquinas Manyo Cardinal Maeda. There is no mention in Jesuit archives that a Mass was ever celebrated in Toyono-cho although it is mentioned that the Japanese Jesuit Brother Lorenzo — a wandering minstrel who himself was converted by Saint Francis Xavier — had spent some 40 days preaching in the Takayama village and the adjoining Yono village. Ukon’s father was a fervent Buddhist who was won over to Christianity by the eloquent preaching of Brother Lorenzo.

But Brother Lorenzo could only preach; he was not an ordained minister — so Cardinal Maeda may be the first priest to celebrate the Mass in Ukon’a birthplace.

Date: February 16, 2019, Saturday

◘ Venue: Ukon-no-Sato (Takayama community center in Takayama Village), Toyono Town, Osaka Prefecture.

1:20 PM — Opening Ceremony and Presentation of Appreciation & Opening Remarks by Toyono Town Mayor Hon. Isao Ikeda

2:20 PM — Mass Commemorating the Birthplace and the Beatification of Blessed Justo Ukon Takayama to be officiated by Thomas Aquinas Manyo Cardinal Maeda

3:20 PM — Handbell performance by students of the Assumption School.

The program is hosted by ● “Honor-Ukon-Takayama-Couples-Gathering” — in collaboration with ● “Ukon Takayama Canonization Promotion Committee.”

Cardinal Maeda

Cardinal Maeda himself is descended from a family of “Hidden Christians” (Kakure Kirishitans) who survived underground as they continued to practice Christianity in secret.

They worshipped in secret rooms in private homes. As time went on, the figures of the saints and the Virgin Mary were transformed into figurines that looked like the traditional statues of the Buddha and “bodhisattvas”; depictions of Mary modeled on the Buddhist deity Kannon, goddess of mercy, became common, and were known as “Maria Kannon.” The prayers were adapted to sound like Buddhist chant, yet retained many untranslated words from LatinPortuguese, and Spanish. The Bible and other parts of the liturgy were passed down orally, because printed works could be confiscated by authorities.

The Virgin Mother morphed into the Buddhist deity “Maria Kannon”

Because of the official expulsion of the Catholic clergy in the 17th century, the Kakure Christian community relied on lay leaders to lead the services. In some cases, the communities drifted away from Christian teachings. They lost the meaning of the prayers and their religion became a version of the cult of ancestors, in which the ancestors happened to be their Christian martyrs.

Recognizing that the places of “hidden” Christianity in Japan are the heritage of humanity, the UNESCO has included 12 sites in Nagasaki and in the Amakusa region on its World Listing. The places are symbols of the persecution perpetrated against Christians during the Tokugawa Shogunate (1603-1868).

A ‘Miracle of the East’

►Pope Pius IX (b. 1792; r. 1846-1878) has considered the discovery of “Hidden Christians” a “miracle of the East”: after the inauguration of the Oura Churdh in Nagasaki, a group of people from the village of Urakami asked Fr. Bernard Petitjean (1829 – 1884) — one of the two missionaries who built it — to be able to enter the church to “greet Mary.” They were “Kakure Kirishitans,” descendants of the first Japanese Christians forced into anonymity, and were followed by tens of thousands of underground Christians who came to the cathedral and resumed Christian practice.

[The remains of the castle of Hara was also included in the UNESCO list.  It was one of the scenes of the Catholics revolt “Shimabara-Amakusa Rebellion” (1637), as a result of which the persecution became harsher. Another site is the village Sakitsu, in the prefecture of Kumamoto (Amakusa), where Christians continued to practice their faith in secret.]

Cardinal Thomas Aquinas Manyo Maeda told the “Japan Times” that the recognition will allow people to discover the history of Christianity in Japan, “summarized” in forgiveness and understanding: “The [UNESCO] registration brings with it something profound and meaningful, in which a true peace for peoples comes when there is respect for each other.”

Cardinal  Maeda is working for the beatification of “hidden Christians” who had been exiled to Tsuwano in present-day Shimane prefecture, part of Hiroshima Diocese. In the final outbreak of anti-Christian persecution in Japan 150 years ago, some 3,400 Christians from Nagasaki were exiled to various places throughout the country.

Nagasaki Archbishop Joseph Mitsuaki Takami

►The Archbishop of Nagasaki, Msgr. Joseph Mitsuaki Takami, expresses the same satisfaction to “AsiaNews”: “For 250 years, Christianity has been persecuted in Japan. Now, it is recognized in its history, and many more Japanese are beginning to take an interest in Christianity.”

The rediscovery of the Japanese Christian history must also involve the faithful themselves, called to study “the history of their ancestors”: for this, on April 1, 2018, the diocese of Nagasaki inaugurated a museum on the history of Japanese Christianity, within the old residence of the bishop. “We need to remember history because it’s not the buildings that are important — concludes Archbishop Takami — but the story behind them. It is this history of faith that has universal value.”

Takayama Village, in Toyono-cho has remained relatively pristine, despite being in the highly industrialized Osaka Prefecture.

Toyono-cho is part of the Osaka Archdiocese – as well as the birthplace of Ukon Takayama, Japan’s most celebrated Christian samurai.

Cardinal Maeda’s visit is less an opportunity to evangelize – but more for Ukon’s townmates to reflect on why the Takayama family, then living at Sawa fortress in Haibara-cho, Nara Prefecture, a stronghold held by Ukon’s father, Takayama Tomoteru (1531–1596), for the Daimyo Matsunaga Hisahide (松永 久秀), 1508–1577, in Yamato Province (today in Haibara-cho, Nara Prefecture) — was moved to convert from Buddhism (as in Toyono-cho today) en masse in 1564.#

Dr. Ernesto A. de Pedro
Takayama Trustee

Marian Shrine in Badoc, Ilocos Norte To Be Elevated to a Minor Basilica

Since 1620, “La Milagrosa Virgen de Badoc” has been the Mediatrix of Grace for the people of Ilocos Norte

►The Vatican has approved a request from the Laoag Diocese to elevate the St. John the Baptist Parish Church — also known as “the Shrine of La Virgen de Milagrosa de Badoc, in Ilocos Norte” — to minor basilica status, a privilege granted by the Pope.

“The Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments … very willingly bestows upon the parish church … the title and dignity of a Minor Basilica,” read the decree.

Bishop Renato Mayugba of Laoag confirmed in a circular in his diocese news of their church’s elevation.

Elevation of St. John the Baptist Church in Badoc, Ilocos Norte — to a Minor Basilica on Feb. 5, 2019

According to canon law, no church building can be honored with the title of basilica unless by apostolic grant. Today, only the Pope through the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments is authorized to grant the decree.

►The 40-day preparation for the elevation of the Shrine of La Virgen Milagrosa de Badoc to a Minor Basilica in February has begun.

Laoag Bishop Renato Mayugba said it was important for the faithful “to be spiritually prepared for the big celebration.”

►The Vatican’s Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments approved the request of the Diocese of Laoag to elevate the nearly 400-year-old Marian shrine to a Minor Basilica on November 30, 2018.

“We shall be celebrating the 400th anniversary of the presence of Our Lady of Badoc, the Japanese Madonna, in 2020. It was found floating on the sea in Barangay Dadalaquiten between Sinait, Ilocos Sur and Barangay Paguetpet in Badoc Ilocos Norte in 1620 with a large crucifix,” Bishop Mayugba said.

It is a symbol of the continuing mission of the Catholic Church to spread the Good News of the Lord and defend the faith especially in finding the image in conjunction with the persecution of Christians in Japan.

“With the elevation of the church in Badoc into a Minor Basilica and since the connection of Japan is very clear I feel a desire to share the faith back to Japan,” Bishop Mayugba said.

San Lorenzo Ruiz (c1600-1637) is the first canonized saint of the Philippines

◘ San Lorenzo Ruiz de Manila (c1600-1637) was a sacristan (altar-server) at the Dominican Church in Binondo, Manila (now renamed Minor Basilica of Saint Lorenzo Ruiz in Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary Parish; this church was founded by Dominican priests in 1596 to serve Chinese converts to Christianity). Joining Dominican missionaries on a mission to Japan, Ruiz was tortured and killed in Nagasaki, Japan on September 28, 1637 with other missionaries — after he refused to abjure his Catholic faith. According to the record of his death, his last words were, “I am a Catholic and wholeheartedly do accept death for God. Had I a thousand lives, all these to Him I shall offer. Do with me as you please.”

Blessed Justo Ukon Takayama (1552-1615) — who died in exile in Manila on Feb. 3, 1615 — is venerated as the Philippine Church’s third “Blessed.” St. John the Baptist Parish Church in Badoc, Ilocos Norte is the first church outside the Manila Archdiocese to enshrine his altar-statue.

◘ Likewise, Blessed Justo Ukon Takayama (1552-1615), the celebrated Japanese Christian samurai who was considered a pillar  of the Catholic faith in Japan, was deported to Manila – along with 350 other Christians after refusing to abjure their Catholic faith. Ukon settled in Intramuros,  Manila – but died on February 3, 1615 —  only 44 days after arriving in the country.

Official poster for two chapels—to be dedicated to two Martyrs: ● San Lorenzo Ruiz and ● Blessed Justo Takayama

Two Side Altars – to be dedicated to San Lorenzo (1637) and Blessed Takayama (1615)

Two side altars — in the Minor Basilica — will be simultaneously blessed with both San Lorenzo Ruiz and Blessed Justo Ukon Takayama recognized as the two enduring bridges that bind the Christians of the Philippines and Japan.

Two side altars—to be dedicated to two Martyrs: ● San Lorenzo Ruiz and ● Blessed Justo Takayama

On December 27, 2018, the Laoag Diocese launched a 40-day preparatory celebration in St. John the Baptist Parish as the Minor Basilica.

Bishop Mayugba said that spiritual preparation explains to devotees the meaning of the Minor Basilica — and its contrast to ordinary Churches.

“That is the catechetical, spiritual and pastoral preparation,” Bishop Mayugba said.

The Laoag Bishop invites devotees to participate in the celebration which will be held on February 5, 2019.

Laoag Bishop Renato Mayugba meets Pope Francis at the Vatican

The official start of the day’s celebrations will be at 9:00 AM, Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2019 – with the Papal Nuncio to the Philippines, Archbishop Gabriele Giordano Caccia, reading the Decree of Concession of the Vatican’s Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments raising the St. John the Baptist Church in Badoc, Ilocos Norte to a Minor Basilica — after nearly four centuries dedicated to “La Milagrosa Virgen de Badoc.”

The Eucharistic Mass will be presided by Cotabato Archbishop Emeritus Orlando Beltran Cardinal Quevedo and Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle — with Cardinal Tagle delivering the homily.

The installation of the side altar for Blessed Takayama will be made by Osaka Archbishop Thomas Aquinas Manyo Cardinal Maeda. The installation of San Lorenzo Ruiz will be by Cardinal Quevedo, assisted by Davao Archbishop Romulo Valles, president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP).◘

Dr. Ernesto A. de Pedro
Takayama Trustee