►Justus Takayama Ukon was born around 1552 in Takayama Castle, near Nara. His father, Takayama Zusho, belonged to the military nobility who at the time was often involved in various wars between daimyō or feudal lords: in fact, from 1538 onwards, he served as a samurai in the service of the noble Matsunaga Hisashide and became commander of the castle of Sawa.
Educated in honor and loyalty, he developed a loyalty to the Lord Jesus so strongly rooted as to comfort him in persecution, exile, abandonment. In fact, the loss of his position of privilege and the reduction to a poor and hidden life did not sadden him, but made him serene and even joyful, because he kept faithful to the promises of baptism.
He was therefore a prince of the highest rank, belonging to the noblest class of Japan, who at the dawn of the evangelization of his country decides to embrace with enthusiasm the new faith brought by the Jesuit missionaries. Indeed, with the intention of spreading Christianity, he founded seminaries for the formation of autochthonous catechists, among whom many suffered martyrdom, such as St. Paul Miki.
But when the expulsion of the missionaries was ordered, thus interrupting their fruitful evangelizing activity, Justus, rather than abandoning the faith, chose exile.
Rehabilitated in 1592, unfortunately in 1614 it underwent the enactment of a new edict which ordered to abandon Christianity. The refusal cost Justus a painful period of deprivation and loneliness. First deported to Nagasaki, he was then sentenced to exile in the Philippines.
Together with 350 Christians, he reached Manila after a long and troubled voyage lasting 43 days. Weakened by illnesses contracted during the deportation, he died in the Philippine capital 44 days after his arrival. He was 63 years old, most of whom passed as an extraordinary witness to the Christian faith in difficult times of conflict and persecution.#
~Cardinal Angelo Amato, SDB Prefect, Congregation for the Causes of Saints (2008-2018)
►PRAYER THROUGH THE INTERCESSION OF BLESSED TAKAYAMA — But one Prayer Warrior of Blessed Takayama suggests praying for a miracle cure of Pope Francis’ well-documented health problem – sciatica (a condition that causes pain that radiates from the lower back along the sciatic nerve to the lower part of the body) – through the intercessioion of Blessed Takayama of Manila. If there are three of us praying daily for such a miracle (Matthew 18:20), we’ve got a shot at a healing miracle!
To make it a validating miracle, the daily prayer – an ♦“Our Father,” or a ♦“Hail Mary” — must be through Blessed Takayama ONLY – NOT “all the Saints and Angels in Heaven.” (Millions of others will be invoking their favorite saints … that’s OK. But first, we must do our part!#
►POPE FRANCIS INVITES EACH OF US TO BECOME MISSIONARY DISCIPLES — By virtue of their baptism, all Christians are missionary disciples (cf. Mt. 28:19).
►(By Jem Sullivan |Catholic News Service) — In his apostolic exhortation ♦“The Joy of the Gospel” (“Evangelii Gaudium”), Pope Francis invites all the faithful to be “missionary disciples.”
His call, which has captured the hearts and minds of many, prompts us to ask: “What is a missionary disciple?”
If we take a closer look at Pope Francis’ words, we realize that they are meant not as a general summons, but as a deeply personal invitation to each one of us. We are each called to live out the gift and meaning of our baptism by our participation in the life of the church, and by our words and actions that witness to the transforming power of the Gospel.
Pope Francis offers his personal invitation when he said in that same exhortation:
“In virtue of their baptism, all the members of the people of God have become missionary disciples (cf. Mt 28:19). … The new evangelization calls for personal involvement on the part of each of the baptized.
“Every Christian is challenged, here and now, to be actively engaged in evangelization; indeed, anyone who has truly experienced God’s saving love does not need much time or lengthy training to go out and proclaim that love.
“Every Christian is a missionary to the extent that he or she has encountered the love of God in Christ Jesus: We no longer say that we are ‘disciples’ and ‘missionaries’ but rather that we are always ‘missionary disciples’” (No. 120).
Missionary discipleship begins with, and grows in, friendship with the person of Jesus Christ.
Once we have truly experienced in a personal way the immense love and mercy of God revealed in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus, daily life is no longer the same. It is always God’s love and grace that first transforms us into missionary disciples.
With the grace of our baptism, we carry within us that same love of God that radiates to all around us, particularly to the poor and those who exist on the social and moral margins of society.
To become a missionary disciple, then, is to hear the voice of Jesus calling us to live the new life of faith in him.
We receive this new life of faith at baptism, and the whole Christian life is an unfolding of the initial baptismal gift of faith — faith that is believed, celebrated, lived and deepened through prayer. This first encounter with the love of God is that moment of evangelization, when the seed of the Gospel planted in our lives begins to grow and flourish.
Catechesis is the deepening of this baptismal gift of faith through an ongoing journey of coming to know and be formed in faith.
“Living as Missionary Disciples” is the theme of this year’s Catechetical Sunday, to be celebrated on Sept. 17, 2017. On that day, as catechists are commissioned for their ministry, all the faithful are reminded of our common vocation, by virtue of baptism, to know and live the faith and to witness to the Gospel in word and deed.
Jesus’ call to missionary discipleship radically changes our lives.
Like the first disciples of the Lord — who moved from being fearful and discouraged fishermen into fearless and zealous missionary disciples — we are transformed into messengers of grace and hope.
This transformation takes place here and now, in the context of the everyday. Jesus called his disciples as they went about their daily labors as fishermen and tax collectors. In the same way, he calls us to missionary discipleship in the concrete places and relationships of our daily life.
Having encountered the love of God, we radiate that divine love into the ordinary moments and relationships of our day, to family, co-workers, friends and community.
We are sustained in our mission by reflecting on the word of God, celebrating the sacraments of the church, striving to live the Christian moral life and praying.
For a missionary disciple, the love of God revealed in Jesus is not an abstract idea. God’s relentless love and forgiving mercy, experienced each day in our encounter with God’s word and in the sacraments, inspires and strengthens us to be his missionary disciples in the world.#
►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.#
►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
►Held from February 3-7, 1937, the 33rd International Eucharistic Congress attracted Catholic pilgrims from around the world. It marked the first time a Catholic Cardinal set foot on the Philippines – Philadelphia Cardinal Dennis Joseph Cardinal Dougherty (1865-1951), who formerly served as Bishop of Nueva Segovia (1903–1908) and Jaro (1908–1915).
Easily the most colorful delegation was from Japan, attending its first pilgrimage outside Japan since freedom of religion in was guaranteed by the Meiji Constitution (明治憲法) which was proclaimed on Feb. 11, 1889.
Provindentially, the 5-day Congress started on Wednesday, Feb. 3, the 322nd anniversary of the deathday of Dom Justo Ukon Takayama (高山右近, 1552 Osaka-1615 Manila) – identified by Fr. Repetti as “Justo Ukón-dono Tacayawa.”
Fr. Repetti shares his account of the last day of the Congress:
►On the last morning of the Eucharistic Congress, a little ceremony took place which was interesting but attracted scarcely any notice.
It commenced at the Jesuit Church of St. Ignatius (San Ignacio Church-II) in the Walled City [Intramuros] and ended at St. Theresa College on San Marcelino St., Ermita (now the site of Adamson University).
To understand its significance, it is necessary to give the historical background.
It is well known that the Church of Japan suffered one of its fiercest persecutions in the 17th century — a persecution which wiped out all external evidence of the faith. In 1614, a large group of Japanese Catholics chose exile from their native land rather than deny their faith and they found refuge in Manila. Accompanying this band of confessors there were eight Jesuit priests and 15 lay Brothers, four Franciscan friars, and two Dominican friars.
The Governor-General of the Philippines, Don Juan de Silva (in office: April 1609 – April 19, 1616), and the Archbishop of Manila, Don Diego Vázquez de Mercado (r. May 28, 1608 – June 12, 1616), gave the party a royal welcome, and they established their homes in a suburb of Manila known as San Miguel. It was located on the southside of the Pasig river whereas San Miguel of the present time is on the north bank. The Jesuits had a church in San Miguel and ministered to the spiritual needs of the exiles.
By far the most prominent layman among the exiles was Justo Ukon-dono Tacayawa (sic) [Takayama]. He was born in 1552 and was baptized in 1563 by the first Japanese Jesuit. Brother Lorenzo, who had been baptized by St. Francis Xavier (1506-1552) and received the name Justo. His father and mother were received into the Church the same year.
He became a military leader and then lord (daimyo) of Takatsuki, and later on, of Akashi. His greatest distinction rests on his strong faith and ardent zeal. He converted all those around him and all those who came into contact with him. Fr. Luis Fróis, SJ (1532 – 1597) said that “among our proselytizers, he had the greatest success in gathering sheep into the Holy Flock.”
Forty-four days after arriving in Manila, he contracted a fever and died on Feb. 3, 1615 at the age of 63. His obsequies took place in the Jesuit Church in Manila (i.e., Santa Ana Church in the present-day PLM /Jesuit Campus) and all possible honor was shown to him on this occasion. He was interred in the place reserved for the Jesuit provincials of the Province of the Philippines. Twenty years later, his bones were placed in an urn and transferred to the Chapel of the St. Ignatius University which adjoined the Jesuit church. In the course of time, the Church, the University, and all Jesuit property disappeared or were scattered. What became of Don Justo’s remains is not known.
Ukon-dono brought his wife Justa and five grandsons into exile, and he was also accompanied by an intimate friend and great Christian, Juan Tocuan Naito (1544-1626). He died in 1626 and was buried with honors in our church in Manila. His sister, Mother Julia Naito, shared her brother’s exile and erected a convent in San Miguel in which she passed a strict religious life as superioress of 13 Japanese women. She died on March 28, 1627.
The Japanese Catholics have always cherished the memory of these sufferers for the faith and have desired to show honor to them. A fitting opportunity of fulfilling their desires seemed to offer itself on the occasion of the Eucharistic Congress in Manila. When the Japanese delegation left Nagasaki, Bishop Hayakawa bestowed his blessing and urged them to find the burial place of the famous exiles and mark them to show in an appropriate manner.
Peter Yakichi Kataoka of the Franciscan Seminary in Nagasaki undertook the task of ascertaining the locations of such special interest to the Japanese. He came to the Manila Observatory, and the writer [Fr. W. C. Repetti] was able to give him sufficient information to justify the placing of historical markers.
The site occupied by the Jesuit Church and University in the 17th century is now occupied by the United States Army and the erection of any monument or marker in that place would involve considerable negotiations and would have been immediately impossible in the short time available.
The pilgrims wished to do something in honor of their heroes during their visit to Manila.
Since they wished the commemoration to have some connection with the Society of Jesus, it was suggested that St. Ignatius Church-II, only a short distance from the old site, be selected as the place to do honor to the memory of Ukon-dono. The suggestion was satisfactory to the pilgrims, and Fr. John F. Hurley, the Jesuit superior, readily gave his approval.
On Sunday morning, February 7, a group of about 20 pilgrims gathered in front of the St. Ignatius Church and grouped themselves around the memorial column where some pictures were taken. Rev. (later Cardinal) Paul Yoshigoro Taguchi, co-leader of the Eucharistic pilgrims, was present, as also was Fr. Washida from Nagasaki. The Japanese Vice-Consul and his wife lent an official tone to the assembly. Fr. Hurley, SJ, Fr. Emmet Creahan, and Fr. W. C. Repetti, SJ, were invited to join the group.
The memorial took the form of a wooden column about six inches square and eight feet long. This was the only thing possible in the short time available. The Japanese inscription was painted on one side and a brief English translation was painted on another side, as follows: “Memorial to Justo Ukon-dono, Catholic Japanese exile. Died Feb. 3, 1615.” The wooden monument is to be attached to the wall of the San Ignacio Church-II and the Japanese hope to raise funds in Japan to substitute a more enduring memorial.
The pilgrims then went to the old site of the Jesuit church and University where Ukon-dono and Naito had been buried. Thence they went to the Franciscan Church and erected another column in the patio of the convent in honor of the Japanese who found hospitality there in 1620.
From there the pilgrims proceeded to St. Theresa College and erected a column in one of its patios to the memory of Mother Julia Naito and her nuns.
Father Washida remarked: “Now we can go home contented.”
~ Fr. W. C. Repetti, SJ, in “A Tercentennial Commemoration in Manila during the 33rd International Eucharistic Congress,” Feb. 3-7, 1937 | Woodstock Letters, Volume LXVI, No. 2, June 1, 1937
►DOM JUSTO UKON TAKAYAMA (高山右近, 1552-1615) — Born in Toyono-cho, Osaka, Japan in 1552; baptized at Sawa Castle on June 1, 1563 at age 11; became Daimyo (feudal governor) of Takatsuki, Osaka at age 21; transferred to a larger governorship in Akashi Prefecture in 1585; s stripped of his domain by Chancellor Toyotomi Hideyoshi for refusing to abjure his Catholic faith on July 24, 1587; imparted by Pope Sixtus V with an Apostolic Blessing on April 24, 1590 “to hold on to the Faith”; and spent 27 years in domestic exile in Kanazawa.#
►On Nov. 8, 1614, Ukon was deported to Manila with his family of seven and 350 other Christian refugees and migrants, arriving on Sunday, Dec. 21, 1614. Ukon and his family were accommodated at the Jesuit guesthouse “Casa San Miguel” at the PLM/Jesuit Compound in Intramuros, Manila, while the other Japanese expatriates were resettled in the Jesuit “encomienda” in San Miguel, Manila. Forty-four days after arrival, Ukon died of “a tropical ailment” on Tuesday, Feb. 3, 1615.#
►On Oct. 5, 1630, the Manila Archdiocese proposed to the Vatican the beatification of Ukon — the first Manila Catholic to be proposed by the Philippine Church. On Jan 5, 1995, Justo was recognized as a “Servant of God”; on Jan. 21. 2016, Pope Francis issued a Decree of Martyrdom; on Feb. 7, 2017, Ukon was beatified as Japan’s 426th Martyr and the Philippines Church’s THIRD Blessed.#
►The Canonization Cause of Blessed Takayama is promoted by several Catholic movements in several countries, but only the Manila-based “Prayer Warriors of Blessed Takayama” have been imparted by Pope Francis with his Apostolic Blessing. Invoking Blessed Takayama, we pray fervently to be worthy channels of God’s Grace under the battle standard of Blessed Takayama – praying for ONE validating miracle to cinch Ukon’s Canonization.🙏💖🙏 Amen.#
Dr. Ernesto A. de Pedro, PhD
Recipient, Pope Francis’ Apostolic Blessing No. 404.467
►In 1585, the Imperial Regent (Kampaku) Toyotomi Hideyoshi (豐臣 秀吉/豊臣 秀吉, March 17, 1537–Sept. 18, 1598) — who is regarded as the second “Great Unifier” of Japan — dropped by the Jesuit seminary in Osaka, accompanied by a son and a brother of the late Oda Nobunaga, and several other lords, and held a “long and familiar conversation” with Fr. Gregorio de Céspedes, SJ (1551–1611), the Superior.#
“You know,” he told the priest, “that everything in your law [Christian religion] contents me, and I find no other difficulty in it, except its prohibition of having more than one wife. Were it not for that, I would become a Christian at once.”
~ James Murdoch, “A History of Japan,” Vol. 2, p. 214 (New York: Frederick Unger Publishing Co., 1903, 1964).#
►TO BE CLEAR: The celebrated “Samurai of Christ,” Dom Justo Ukon Takayama (高山右近, 1552-Osaka-1615 Manila) — known at the Vatican as “Dom Justo Ucondono” — never set foot on Europe, but he had a wide footprint there – in books and theater plays. Europe, which was the source of all Jesuit missionaries sent to Japan, was fascinated with all things Japanese … and its most illustrious Catholic convert.
►Ever since the Italian merchant Marco Polo (1254-1324) wrote about Japan (which he called “Zipangu”) in his book 📖 “The Travels of Marco Polo” (Venice: c1300), describing his travels through Asia between 1271 and 1295, the Western World has been fascinated with a kingdom no one had yet visited. Marco Polo was the first European to write about Japan but it is unlikely that he visited Japan at all. Most likely his accounts were based on what he heard about Japan in China from sailors involved in the failed Mongol invasions of Japan (元寇, Genkō), which took place in 1274 and 1281, when Kublai Khan of the Yuan dynasty attempted to conquer Japan. Marco’s account of the Mongol invasion of Japan is very sketchy because he heard of the invasion only from the Mongols.
The first three Europeans to arrive in Japan in 1543 were Portuguese traders who landed by accident at the southern tip of Tanegashima, where they would introduce the arquebus firearm to the local population, who eventually reconfigured it into the Tanegashima (種子島), a matchlock gun that changed warfare in the Japanese archipelago. Within ten years of its introduction upwards of 300,000 tanegashima were reported to have been manufactured. The tanegashima eventually became one of the most important weapons in Japan.
►With Dom Justo Ukon Takayama considered by the Jesuits as the greatest Japanese missionary of the sixteenth century, the Jesuits who were all Europeans brought the fame and heroic virtues of Lord Takayama throughout Europe: 🔸Italy, 🔸Spain, 🔸England, 🔸France, 🔸Germany, 🔸Austria, 🔸Switzerland, and 🔸Belgium. It is odd that there is no imprint from Portugal where most of the early Jesuit missionaries originated.
►1590 — Pope Sixtus V (r. 1585-1590) — Apostolic “Breve” (*photo of present-day print-out) dated April 24, 1590 imparted to Dom Justo Ucondono, when Lord Takayama was stripped of his feudal domain in Akashi Prefecture on June 24, 1587 for refusing to abjure his Christian faith.
►1617 – P. Pedro Morejon, SJ, 📖 “Lettera annua del Giapone del MDCXIV” | al Molto Reuerendo Padre Mvtio Vitelleschi | Generale della Compagnua di GIESv.cion. Scritta del Padre Pietro Morecion della Compagnia di Giesv. (Roma, Per Basttolomeo Zanuzzi, MDCXVII.
This was a biography of Takayama Ukon written in Spanish by Ukon’s Spanish father-confessor, Fr. Pedro Morejon, SJ, and first published in Barcelona, then translated into English by Fr. William Wright, SJ. As the Jesuits were banned in England since 1604, this was published by the underground Jesuit press in St. Omer, France. All these — within four years of Takayama’s death in Manila!
►1646 — P. Antonio Francisco Cardim, SJ (1596-1659) – 📖 “Fasciculus e Japonicis Floribus, suo adhuc madentibus Sanguine” (Japanese Flowers Still Dripping with Blood). Rome, 1646
►1663 — Colin/Pastells, 📖 “Labor Evangelica, ministerios apostolicos de los obreros de la Compañia de Iesvs, fvndacion, y progressos de su provincia en las islas Filipinas” by Colín, Francisco (1592-1660; first published 1663); and copiously annotated by Fr. Pablo Pastells, SJ (1846-1932), eds. Barcelona: 1900.
►1663-1742 – USE OF JESUIT THEATER PLAYS TO PROMOTE TAKAYAMA — By 1600, the Jesuits had over 200 schools, universities, and seminaries, most if not all of which offered some kind of public performance as part of the educational process. By 1706, that number had increased to 769 schools all over the world. In some parts of Europe, the Jesuits held a virtual monopoly on education, including parts of France, Austria, southern Germany, and Spain. And almost without exception, all of those schools performed plays, resulting in a huge body of dramatic literature and numerous public and private performances. According to Robert S. Miola, in the seventeenth century, “at least one hundred thousand (100,000) Jesuit dramas played on European stages.” (“Early Modern Catholicism: An Anthology of Primary Sources,” 2007, 329).
The performers and the audiences alike were the school’s students, although parents, patrons, and other personages of note would be invited to attend certain performances as well. Cardinal Richelieu, Cardinal Mazarin, and Louis XIV were all supporters and regular patrons of Jesuit drama in France.
►1663 – First Jesuit play 🎭 about Lord Takayama is presented this year. Even an incomplete survey of the plays about Takayama shows how his fame spread throughout Europe, and played a role in the development of European drama.
Based on the research of Fr. John Baptist Muller, SJ (📖 “The Jesuit Drama,” Augsburg, 1930), and Fr. Thomas Imoos, SMB (professor of German Literature at Sophia University), the Takayama plays were presented from 1663 to 1742.
►1663 – Munich (Germany) — 🎭 Takayama play (presentation title, not indicated).
►1666 – Vienna (Austria) — 🎭 Takayama play (presentation title, not indicated).
►1673 — Cornelius Hazart, SJ (1617-1690) — 📚 “Kerckelijke Historie van de Geheele Werelt…” (Religious History of the Whole World), Vienna: 1673.
►1673 – Landshut, Bavaria, Germany — 🎭 Takayama play (presentation title, not indicated).
►1682 – Lucerne (Switzerland) — 🎭 Takayama play (presentation title, not indicated).
►1689 – Winnocx (Belgium) — 🎭 Takayama play (presentation title, not indicated).
►1691 — Kortryjk (Belgium) — 🎭 Takayama play (presentation title, not indicated).
►1698 – Sint Winchsbergen — 🎭 Takayama play (presentation title, not indicated).
►1698 — Kortryjk — 🎭 Takayama play (presentation title, not indicated).
►1724 – Ellwangen — 🎭 Takayama play (presentation title, not indicated).
►1742 — Solothurn — 🎭 Takayama play (presentation title, not indicated).
►1775 – St. Alphonsus Ligouri, 📚”Victories of the Martyrs: Or, the Lives of the Most Celebrated Martyrs of the Church” (1775, 1887, 1954). Researching at the Vatican Archives, Fr. (later, Saint) Alphonsus Maria de Ligouri, CSsR (1696-1787) — “patron saint of journalists” – studied the Takayama papers and concluded that, despite dying in bed surrounded by family, Takayama was truly a martyr.
►1806 — Johann Michael Haydn (1737-1806, “Oratorio for Takayama” (1806). A music researcher at the British Library shared there was a chorus in honor of Takayama composed by the Austrian composer Johann Michael Haydn (1737-1806), younger brother of the more famous composer, Joseph Haydn (1732-1809) who was the most celebrated composer in Europe. The younger Haydn composed a chorus honoring Takayama. “It features a composite of Takayama and Titus,” Fr. Thomas Imoos, SMB (1918-2001) notes. Researchers in Takatsuki, Osaka Prefecture, Japan tracked this down in Salzburg, studied the music, and had a choir sing at a symposium in Takatsuki.
►1912 — MANRESA MOSAIC (1912) – There was a portrait of Takayama Ukon that was part of a mosaic on the nave of the church at the Santa Cueva in Manresa, Spain – which was first published in black & white in the “Tribune” in Manila in September 1942.
►This mosaic depicted six Catholic noblemen who were all products of the Jesuits’ famed 30-day “Spiritual Exercises,” namely:🔸the Bourbon king of France, Louis XIII, holding the book “Exercitia Spiritualia”;🔸Don Alvaro de Cordoba, a Spanish grandee whose public life was much influenced by the Jesuit manual;🔸the Hapsburg prince, Don Juan de Austria (1545-1578) — half-brother of Philip II, king of Spain — familiar to Filipinos as the victor of the Battle of Lepanto (1571);🔸Lord Justo Takayama Ukon (identified in the mosaic as “Justo Ucandono”);🔸Marques de Villapuente, renowned in Mexico, Africa and Europe for his charities; and🔸Don Lupercio de Arbizu, the Aragon nobleman who was persuaded by the Jesuits to build Manresa into a city.#
Dr. Ernesto A. de Pedro, PhD
Prayer Warriors of Blessed Takayama
►A “bridge of faith and martyrdom” links the “Kirishitan Samurai,” Justo Ukon Takayama (1552-1615), Japan’s greatest lay missionary in the 16th century, who died in Manila in 1615, with San Lorenzo Ruiz (1594-1637), Filipino protomartyr who died in Nagasaki in 1637. “Martyrdom is the deepest link between our two churches,” Cardinal-Bishop Luis Antonio Tagle, Cardinal Prefect of the Evangelization of Peoples (“Propaganda Fide”), has said.
In a Eucharistic Mass with Japanese Catholics in Kobe, Japan on Feb. 3, 2016, then-Manila Archbishop Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle said the Philippines, especially Manila, and Japan are linked through a “bridge of faith and martyrdom.”
On Feb. 7, 2017, Cardinal Tagle concelebrated the Mass during the Beatification Ceremonies at the Osaka-jō Hall, Kyōbashi, Osaka (Japan), which was presided by Cardinal Angelo Amato, SDB, Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints (CCS), on Pope Francis’s behalf.
Saint Lorenzo Ruiz
►Lorenzo was born in Manila of a Chinese father and a Filipino mother, both Christians. Thus he learned Chinese and Tagalog from them, and Spanish from the Dominicans whom he served as altar boy and sacristan. He became a professional calligrapher, transcribing documents in beautiful penmanship. He was a full member of the Confraternity of the Holy Rosary under Dominican auspices. He married and had two sons and a daughter.
Lorenzo’s life took an abrupt turn when he was accused of murder. Nothing further is known except the statement of two Dominicans that “he was sought by the authorities on account of a homicide at which he was present or which was attributed to him.”
At that time, three Dominican priests, Antonio Gonzalez, Guillermo Courtet, and Miguel de Aozaraza, were about to sail to Japan in spite of a violent persecution there. With them was a Japanese priest, Vicente Shiwozuka de la Cruz, and a layman named Lazaro, a leper. Lorenzo, having taken asylum with them, was allowed to accompany them. But only when they were at sea did he learn that they were going to Japan.
They landed at Okinawa. Lorenzo could have gone on to Formosa, but, he reported, “I decided to stay with the Fathers, because the Spaniards would hang me there.” In Japan they were soon found out, arrested, and taken to Nagasaki.
They were subjected to an unspeakable kind of torture: After huge quantities of water were forced down their throats, they were made to lie down. Long boards were placed on their stomachs and guards then stepped on the ends of the boards, forcing the water to spurt violently from mouth, nose and ears.
The superior, Fr. Gonzalez, died after some days. Both Fr. Shiwozuka and Lazaro broke under torture, which included the insertion of bamboo needles under their fingernails. But both were brought back to courage by their companions.
In Lorenzo’s moment of crisis, he asked the interpreter, “I would like to know if, by apostatizing, they will spare my life.” The interpreter was noncommittal, but in the ensuing hours Lorenzo felt his faith grow strong. He became bold, even audacious, with his interrogators.
Lorenzo’s persecutors gave him an ultimatum, “Would you renounce your faith in God if we let you live?” To which Lorenzo bravely responded, “If I had one thousand lives, I’d give it all to Jesus. I would never deny my faith even if it costs my life.”
The five were put to death by being hanged upside down in pits. Boards fitted with semi-circular holes were fitted around their waists and stones put on top to increase the pressure. They were tightly bound, to slow circulation and prevent a speedy death. They were allowed to hang for three days. By that time Lorenzo and Lazaro were dead. Still alive, the three priests were then beheaded.
In 1987, Pope John Paul II canonized these six and 10 others: Asians and Europeans, men and women, who spread the faith in the Philippines, Formosa, and Japan. Lorenzo Ruiz is the first canonized Filipino martyr. The Liturgical Feast of Saint Lorenzo Ruiz and Companions is September 28.
Hikogorō Takayama (彦五郎).was born in 1552, scion of the castellan of Sawa Castle in Yamato Province, Tomoteru Takayama (高山友照, 1531–1596), an ardent Buddhist who persecuted the early Jesuit missionaries. But in a series of discussions with Bro. Lorenzo, a half-blind Jesuit brother, he was convinced of the tenets of Christianity, and converted with his family and retinues at Sawa Castle. Hikogorō, 11, was baptized Justo, after St. Justin the Martyr, on whose feast day on June 1, 1563 Justo was baptized.
Dom Dario Tomoteru Takayama was awarded the Takatsuki Castle, but the old man decided to turn over the domain to his eldest son Ukon, who at age 21, ruled Takatsuki foe the next 11 years.
In Takatsuki, Lord Justo Ukon Takayama (高山右近) used his resources to build churches, oratorios and a seminary for the Jesuits – to the chagrin of the Buddhist advisers of Chancellor Toyotomi Hideyoshi (豐臣 秀吉/豊臣 秀吉, 1537 – 1598).
His troubles coincided with the persecution of Christians in Japan, which started on July 24-25, 1587. He received a message from Hideyoshi asking him to give up his faith or lose his fief and position in the latter’s army. He replied that while he had made an oath of allegiance to Hideyoshi, he was prepared to give up wealth, position and power to follow a greater lord, Jesus Christ.
Stripped of his Akashi domain, he became a ronin — a masterless samurai — who found protection with a Christian Daimyo, Admiral Augustine Konishi Yukinaga who, despite being a Christian, was needed by Hideyoshi to realize his conquest of Korea. With the tacit consent of Hideyoshi, Ukon was hired as a guest-general by Kaga Daimyo Toshiee Maeda, where he served until the final edict of February 1614, deporting him to either Macau or Manila.
Takayama left Kanazawa on Feb. 15, 1614, and after a 150-day journey in the winter, he arrived in Nagasaki where he boarded a boat for Manila on Nov. 8, 1614.
Takayama arrived in Manila on Dec. 21, 1614, and was literally greeted with open arms by the Spanish governor-general, Juan de Silva (r. 1609-1616). Justo Ucondono was accompanied by 350 Catholic deportees, including: his wife Lady Justa Kuroda Takayama (1563-?), a daughter, Lucia Takayama Yokoyama married to Yokoyama Daizen Yasuharu (1590-1645), a general of the Maeda clan; five grandchildren (the eldest 16, the youngest almost eight); and 💥23 Jesuits (eight Jesuit fathers and 15 Jesuit brothers), 💥four Franciscan fathers, 💥two Dominican fathers, 💥two Augustinian fathers, and 💥two secular fathers, 💥the 15 nuns (14 Japanese, one Korean) of the Jesuit-chaplained “Beatas de Meaco” or “Miyako no Bikuni” (Nuns of Kyoto, 1615-1656), 💥about 100 Japanese catechists, and 💥two dozen sons and daughters of Japanese noble families.
Sometime in January 1615, Takayama fell ill. He died of “a tropical ailment” four days later, on Tuesday, Feb. 3, 1615 — only 44 days after his arrival in Manila on Sunday, Dec. 21, 1614. He was buried near the High Altar of the Jesuit church in Intramuros – Santa Ana Church – at the PLM /Jesuit Compound.
Cardinal Angelo Amato, SDB, Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, described the new Blessed as “an extraordinary witness of the Christian faith in difficult times of opposition and persecution.”
Writing about the “greatest Japanese missionary in the 16th century,” Fr. Anton Witwer, SJ, Jesuit General Postulator who promoted Takayama’s Cause, said: “Four hundred years have passed since the death of Justus Takayama Ukon (1552 Osaka-1615 Manila), remembered and revered in Japan not only as a martyr, but also as a great witness to the Christian faith, which he practiced in connection with the mission of the Society of Jesus.
“He was the greatest Japanese missionary of the sixteenth century because of how he lived the Christian faith with the tenacity, rigor and loyalty that were typical of the Japanese people, promoting the inculturation of Christianity through the witness of his life, which eventually led to his dying while in exile. Already at the time of his death people were talking of him as though he were a saint.
“His witness of faith was, and is, convincing. Just as his life has led many to the Gospel, so can the blood of his martyrdom continue to be “the seed of Christians.”#
Dr. Ernesto A. de Pedro, PhD/History