Canonization Requires a Miracle Granted Through the Intercession of Blessed Takayama

Medical miracles are best documented
Medical miracles offer best documentation

Takayama Does NOT Perform the Miracle – Only God Does That. But We Ask Ukon to Intercede – with God!

►During his lifetime, many people found Takayama Ukon’s life a great inspiration — his holiness was so evident. In Manila, he was regarded as a living saint.

At his deathbed, Ukon implored Our Lady of the Rosary for her prayers “now and at the hour of our death,” was given the Last Rites by Jesuit priests, while surrounded by his loving family. Here was a saint indeed! In the Catholic religion, anyone who dies in a state of grace is in the presence of God for all eternity. They became saints the moment they entered Heaven.

Which is why the Manila Archdiocese readily proposed Sainthood for Takayama Ukon in 1630. But the process of being recognized as Official Saints – of being enrolled in the Church’s “Canon of Saints” – requires a long official process involving both the proposing diocese and the Vatican.

Specific Petition

To be proclaimed as an Official Saint in the Holy Roman Catholic Church, the Congregation for the Making of Saints requires that a miracle be produced through the intercession of a candidate — as proof of God’s caring grace. According to the Church, miracles — or divine events that have no natural or scientific explanation — serve as proof that the person is in Heaven and can intercede with God to change the ordinary course of events. Since such miracles are considered proof that the person can intercede for us, the miracle must take place as a result of a specific petition to that particular candidateNOT a scatter-shot “Prayer to All the Saints in Heaven – Particularly Blessed Takayama Who is in Need of a Miracle.” The prayer must be for the solo intercession of the newly beatified Blessed Takayama with God – to make the miracle happen.

In brief, it must be the gravely-ill patient himself, anxious for a miracle from God, who invokes the intercession of Blessed Takayama, who himself died from an illness the doctors could not heal.

A growing community of Prayer Warriors for Blessed Takayama – from Sikatuna Village (Quezon City) to Waukesha, Wisconsin (USA) — have emailed their readiness to support the miracle-seeker’s prayers with our own concerted supplications — wherever in the world the patient may be.

Scientifically Unexplainable

If a miracle through the intercession of Blessed Takayama is reported in Manila or Osaka — a Diocesan Commission, composed of scientific experts and theologians, will examine the claimed miracle. To be recognized as such, the purported medical miracle must be “spontaneous, instantaneous and complete healing — while also being scientifically unexplainable. Doctors must conclude, ‘We don’t have any natural explanation of what happened.’” If the claim passes muster, this is forwarded to the Vatican — where a Miracle Commission sifts through all such claims.

Decree of Miracle

If the Pope agrees, he issues a Decree of a Miracle. Through the Rite of Canonization, the Pope, by an act which is protected from error by the Holy Spirit, elevates a person to the universal veneration of the Holy Roman Catholic Church.

By canonization, the Pope does not make the person a Saint. Rather the Holy Father declares that the Saint – who was actually a saint upon his death — is indeed with God and is an example of someone who lived a holy life in obedience to God’s will — worthy of emulation by the faithful throughout Christendom. ◘

Managing Trustee
Lord Takayama Jubilee Foundation


The Life and Times of Blessed Justo Takayama (1552-1615)

A Brief History of His 402-Year Journey to Beatification as a Martyr in 2017

Lord Justo Takayama Ukon, daimyo of Akashi, is confronted by the Kwampaku, Toyotomi Hideyoshi, to renounce his Catholic Faith. (Actually, the 2m x 2m artwork is an artistic composite, as the confrontation was through an intermediary, the renowned tea master, Sen no Rikyū. Ukon declined — and he lost his fief and his army. He and his family had to leave Akashi Castle and seek the protection of friends. For the next 27 years, they lived in domestic exile in Kanazawa.

►Blessed Justo Takayama Ukon (高山右近) was the most celebrated “Kirishitan Samurai” during Japan’s so-called Christian Century (1549-1650). His life intersected the rule of Japan’s three hegemons – Oda Nobunaga (織田 信長) — (1534-1582); Toyotomi Hideyoshi (豊臣 秀吉) – (1537-1598), and Tokugawa Ieyasu (徳川 家康) – (1543-1616) — acknowledged as the “Unifiers of Japan” who ended a century of fractious civil war.
No other Japanese Christian convert has been as thoroughly written about by Jesuit missionaries as Takayama Ukon — from the time he was baptized Justo – with as many as six Jesuit missionaries writing about him in one particular year — until his death in Manila in 1615. He was celebrated for his governance of Takatsuki (in Settsu Province) where he introduced a form of Catholic charities. During the 13 years he ruled there, some 18,000 of its 25,000 population converted to Christianity – an example unmatched anywhere else in Japan, except in Nagasaki.

Japan Turns Hostile to Christianity

When Japan’s government turned hostile to Christianity — the “religion of the West” — all daimyo (feudal noblemen) were ordered to recant their Christian faith, and return to Shinto or Buddhism. Wholesale martyrdoms cast a grim toll on the faithful.

But Takayama Ukon chose to stand fast, preferring to be stripped of his fief in Akashi (in Harima Province) rather than abjure his religion. Ukon told Hideyoshi’s messenger he would visit Hideyoshi unarmed and convey his thoughts, adding that if he should be killed, he would accept his fate willingly. Takayama’s reputation as an outstanding defender of the faith was so widespread in Europe (where all foreign missionaries in Japan came from) that Pope Sixtus V (r. 1585-1590), was moved to send him a Breve (papal letter) dated April 24, 1590 exhorting Takayama to remain strong in his faith.

From Daimyo to Retainer

For the last 26 years of his life, Takayama lived in domestic exile as a ronin, first seeking safe haven in the island of Awaji (in the Inland Sea) where his fellow Catholic, Gen. Konishi Agostinho Yukinaga (1555-1600) – overall commander of Hifeyoshi’s invasion of Korea — received him. Later, in 1588, he went to Kaga as a retainer of the Maeda clan who ruled the Kanazawa Domain, which covered the provinces of KagaNoto and Etchū in modern-day Ishikawa Prefecture.

While the Maeda themselves were not Christian converts – though some family members were! – their territories offered safe asylum, and in these scattered districts the work of Christianity proceeded secretly while openly interdicted. Despite the general persecution, Ukon continued to involve himself in Church and missionary activities. His life led many to the Gospel, as he remained active in converting fellow Japanese, building churches, and continuing to support Jesuit underground missions — until the final prohibition edict of January 27, 1614 was rigorously enforced.

Exiled for His Faith

Takayama Ukon and his family — (his wife, Dona Justa, a married daughter Lucia Yokoyama, and five grandsons) — were exiled to Manila with 350 other Christians, among them Lord Juan Tocuan Naito (Hideyoshi’s ambassador to the Ming Court in China during the truce, 1594-1596, between two Korean Wars); the Japanese and Korean nuns of the Jesuit-chaplained Beatas de Miyako [Kyoto], and the sons and daughters of other Christian nobles.

(Takayama also brought on the exile ship the statue of Our Lady of the Holy Rosary — [more popularly known as “La Japona”] — from the Dominican Church of Our Lady of the Rosary in Nagasaki. This Marian image had accompanied the first Dominican mission that left for Satsuma, Japan on June 1, 1602. Since its return in 1614, the image has been enshrined at the Santo Domingo Church in Intramuros; during WW2, at U.S.T., and by 1954, in Quezon City.)

After 43 days at sea (during which howling winds, heavy rain and huge seas snapped the exile junk’s main mast just off the coast of Bataan), then 44 days on land in Manila, Takayama died on Feb. 3, 1615 of “a tropical ailment” which the doctors of the Spanish Governor-General, Don Juan de Silva, were unable to deal with.

Accorded State Honors in Manila

Amid great public lamentations, the “Samurai of Christ,” Lord Takayama Ukon was accorded a state funeral with nine days of Requiem Masses at the churches of Intramuros.

Son of Manila

In 1630, the Manila archdiocese, considering Takayama as a true “Son of Manila,” under the doctrine that “where one dies is where one is born to Heaven,” petitioned the Vatican to elevate him to sainthood — making a Japanese Catholic the first candidate of the Philippine Church for saint. But in 1963, with no native-born Filipino candidate being proposed as the first saint of the Philippine Church, and with its own Archdiocesan Archives devastated during the Japanese Occupation of the Philippines (1942-1945), the Manila Archdiocese seconded the Takayama Cause to the Church of Japan.

Church Historians Accumulate Supporting Documents

As the “Cause” had been dormant for 333 years, Japanese historians set about assembling the supporting papers for the “Causa Historica” of Takayama Ukon as a “Confessor of Christ” – not as a Martyr. The historical team was headed by Sophia University’s Fr. Hubert Cieslik, SJ (1914-1988) who wrote in German, English and Japanese, but chose to write the Takayama study wholly in German. Other historical documents were written in six other Western languages, plus Japanese too. The Congregation for the Causes of Saints needed the documents translated to an official Vatican language – such as Latin, Italian, Spanish or English — before the Cardinals could evaluate them.

Takayama’s Cause and U.S.T.

Takamatsu Bishop Francis Xavier Osamu Mizobe, SDB (1935-2016), chairman of the Japanese Bishops’ Special Committee for Canonization and Beatification, wrote about the undue delay in the processing of the “Positio”: “It had taken quite a long time — [the papers at the Vatican were dormant for 11 years!] — to find a suitable translator. Dr. Ernesto A. de Pedro, professor of Santo Tomas University (U.S.T.) in Manila, agreed to undertake the task of translation. He finished his work in 1994, so from that time on, the Congregation could move on.” The Jesuit Postulator General, Fr. Paulo Molinari, SJ (1924-2014) acknowledged: “Thanks to your much appreciated collaboration, all the essential materials for this important ‘Cause’ are by now available.”

The official “Positio” – “Justus Takayama Ukon, Servus Dei” (1994, 648p) — was then presented to the Congregation for the Causes of Saints which gave its “Nihil Obstat” on June 8, 1994. Now — 364 years after Manila initiated the process in 1630 — Takayama Ukon had at last reached the first step to sainthood: “Servant of God.”

Takayama Ukon – A Martyr

When a beatification ceremony for 188 Japanese martyrs was held in Nagasaki on Nov. 24, 2008 – the fourth batch of Japan’s group martyrs — the Japanese Bishops sought to include the Servant of God, Takayama Ukon, among the martyrs to be beatified. However, the Vatican did not, at that time, recognize Takayama Ukon as a martyr. But with the evolution of the theology of martyrdom, the Vatican’s Congregation for the Causes of Saints has indicated a willingness to accept Takayama as a Martyr.

In 2010, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Japan (CBCJ) re-initiated the process of beatification on the basis of Martyrdom. Bishop Mizobe pointed out that the then Archbishop of Manila [Msgr. Miguel Garcia Serrano, OESA] recognized that the cause of Ukon’s death was “exhaustion and the fatigues of the exile” and that “Justus had died as a consequence of the exile, and therefore, in the proper sense of the word, was to be regarded as Martyr for the sake of the Faith.” St. Alphonsus Maria de Ligouri, CSsR (1696-1787) — who was himself canonized in 1839 – came across the Takayama papers at the Vatican during Japan’s closed years, likewise concluded, in “Victories of the Martyrs” (1775, 1887, 1954), that, despite dying in bed surrounded by his family, Takayama Ukon was indeed a Martyr.

In August 2013, the Japanese Bishops presented to the Vatican a petition for the beatification of Takayama Ukon — as a Martyr. Pope Francis on January 21, 2016 authorized the change from “Confessor” to “Martyr” through the promulgation of a decree on the martyrdom of the Servant of God Justo Takayama Ukon — a “layperson … from Japan [who] died from the hatred of the Faith on Feb. 3, 1615 in Manila, Philippines.” Fr. Anton Witwer, SJ, Postulator General of the Society of Jesus, explained the Pope’s decree of martyrdom: “Since Takayama died in exile because of the weaknesses caused by the maltreatments he suffered in his homeland, the process for beatification … is that of a Martyr.”

Beatified in Osaka on Feb. 7, 2017

Skipping the prescribed second step – “Venerable” — the Servant of God, Justus Takayama Ukon, was directly beatified as a Martyr on Feb. 7, 2017, in Osaka, Japan, by Cardinal Angelo Amato, SDB, Prefect of the Congregation for the Making of Saints, on behalf of Pope Francis, making Ukon the 394th in Japan’s galaxy of 42 Saints and 394 Blessed. ◘

By Dr. Ernie A. de Pedro
Managing Trustee
Lord Takayama Jubilee Foundation

Timeline of Lord Takayama’s Sojourn — and Martyrdom – in the Philippines

Lord Takayama and his family left Kanazawa in northern Japan on Feb. 15, 1614 to board a Chinese junk in Nagasaki -- with 350 Japanese Christian exiles -- bound for Manila, where he died on Feb. 3, 1615
Lord Takayama and his family left Kanazawa in northern Japan on Feb. 15, 1614 to board a Chinese junk in Nagasaki — with 350 Japanese Christian exiles — bound for Manila, where he died on Feb. 3, 1615

1614 — (Feb. 15) – Start of 353-day ‘Trek to Martyrdom’ of Lord Justo Takayama Ukon (1552-1615) from Kanazawa — to Death in Manila on Feb. 3, 1615.

1614 – (Dec. 21) — Lord Justo Takayama Ukon arrived in Manila with the first group of 350 Japanese Christians who sought refuge in the Philippines. The refugees were warmly welcomed by the Spanish Governor General, and the Archbishop of Manila. The Jesuits of the Philippines were hosts not only of Lord Takayama and his family, but also the “350 Japanese Christian exiles.”

1615 – (Feb. 3)After only 44 days in Manila, Lord Takayama died “of a tropical fever” on Feb. 3, 1615. The city declared nine days of mourning for him. He was interred near the High Altar of the Jesuit-owned Santa Ana Church in Intramuros, Manila.

1630 – (Oct. 5) — The Manila Archbishop proposed to the Vatican that Takayama be declared a saint – a Japanese Christian was being proposed to be the Philippines’ first saint! According to the rubrics of the Catholic Church — “where one dies, is where he is born to Heaven.” Thus, in the reckoning of the Catholic Church, Lord Takayama was a “Son of Manila.”

1937 – (Feb. 3 — 322nd death anniversary of Takayama) – The XXXIIIrd International Eucharistic Congress in Manila (Feb. 3-7) resolves to promote the “Cause for the Beatification of the Confessor of Christ, Justo Takayama Ukon.” The resolution was presented by the Japanese delegation co-headed by Rev. Fr. Paul Yoshigoro Taguchi, Director of the Japanese Catholic Press Bureau, and later Archbishop-Cardinal of the Diocese of Osaka.

1942 – (Sept. 20) – Memorial Mass to promote awareness that the Confessor of Christ, Justo Takayama Ukon, died in Manila in 1615. The Mass was celebrated at the San Marcelino Church (St. Vincent de Paul Parish Church) by Osaka Bishop (later Cardinal) Paul Yoshigoro Taguchi.

1963 – (April 24) – Japanese Bishops attending the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965) in Rome, visited Manila Archbishop Rufino J. Cardinal Santos (1908-1973) — at the Pontificio Collegio Filippino — to petition him to revive the ‘Cause for Sainthood of Takayama.’ With historical documents lost with the destruction of the Manila Archdiocesan Archives during WWII (1942-1945), Cardinal Santos deeded over the responsibility for the promotion to Osaka Archbishop Paul Yoshigoro Cardinal Taguchi. The Catholic Bishops Conference of Japan (CBCJ) formed a historical committee, headed by Fr. Hubert Cieslik, SJ, to write the official “Positio” about Takayama – as a “Confessor of Christ.”

1977 — (Nov. 17) – After joint Philippine-Japanese development in 1973-1977, with land donated by the City of Manila, and private contributions from the Japanese. the Takayama Memorial was inaugurated as the centerpiece of the Philippines-Japan Friendship Park, at Plaza Dilao, Paco, Manila. Lord Takayama was the historical figure chosen to exemplify Philippine-Japanese friendship. Takayama Ukon was recognized as “the epitome of the Japanese spirit”: 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 the Christian missions.”

1979 — (Jan. 25) — The Manila-Takatsuki Sister City Pact was signed on Jan. 25, 1979. Takatsuki was the fief governed by Takayama for over 13 years. Here, he converted 18,000 of the castletown’s 20,000 inhabitants to Christianity. Since 1979, all Manila Mayors – Mayor Ramon S. Bagatsing (1972-1988); Mayor Gemiliano “Mel” Lopez (Appt. 1986-1987; elected 1988-1992); Mayor Alfredo S. Lim (1992-1998; 2007-2013); Mayor Jose “Lito” Atienza (1998-2007), and Mayor Joseph “Erap” Estrada (2013-2019) — have laid floral wreaths at the Takayama Memorial to commemorate Philippine-Japanese Friendship.

1992 — (Nov. 17) – Takayama Memorial was recognized – and listed — as a National Monument by the National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP).

1994 — (June 8) — The Roman Catholic Church declares the Christian Samurai, Justo Takayama Ukon, as a “Servant of God” — the first step to sainthood.

2014 – (July 14) — CBCJ submits a revised “Positio” about the Servant of God, Justo Takayama Ukon to the Congregation for the Causes of Saints – this time, as a Martyr.

2016 – (Jan. 21) – Pope Francis issues a Decree of Martyrdom for the Servant of God, Justo Takayama, recognizing that although he died in bed surrounded by his family, he had died a Martyr. The Jesuit Postulator-General, Fr. Anton Witwer, SJ, who presented the “Cause of Takayama” before the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, pointed out: “Since Takayama died in exile, because of the weakness caused by the maltreatments he suffered in his homeland, the process for beatification is that of a martyr.”

2017 – (Feb. 7) – Beatification of Justo Takayama Ukon in Osaka, by the Congregation for the Causes of Saints.

2017 — (March 28) — Second Takayama statue is installed and blessed at University of Santo Tomas (UST) — at the entrance of the Thomas Aquinas Research Complex (TARC), home of the UST Graduate School, which has been the center of Takayama Studies since 1989.

Paco Catholic Church, Manila
Paco Catholic Church, Manila

2017 – (Dec. 21) — On the 403rd anniversary of Lord Takayama’s arrival  in Manila in 1614, the first altar-size statue is installed at the Paco Catholic Church. The first Catholic church made of nipa was built by Franciscan missionaries in 1580 for Japanese expatriates. The swampy settlement had no name but as ‘Paco’ or ‘Paquito’ were the diminutives for Francisco, Paco became the name of the district. The present church was reconstructed from the ruins of World War II (1942-1945).

(On February 7, 2012, the Paco Catholic Church was designated as “Pro-Cathedral of the Archdiocese of Manila” until the structural renovations of Manila Cathedral-Basilica of the Immaculate Conception were completed on April 9, 2014.)

2018 – (Feb. 3) — FIRST FEASTDAY for Blessed Takayama. The liturgical calendar of the Roman Catholic Church designates February 3 as Ukon’s feastday – not only in the Philippines and Japan, but throughout the Catholic world. ◘

Dr. Ernie A. de Pedro
Managing Trustee
Lord Takayama Jubilee Foundation

Tagalog Text of Prayer for Blessed Takayama’s Intercession


►O Diyos, sa iyong kahanga-hangang pagkupkop,

pinili mo si Justo Takayama Ukon

na maging natatanging tagataguyod ng Iyong Kaharian

at isang di matitinag na saksi ng Pananampalatayang Katoliko.

Gantimpalaan Mo, hinihiling namin, ang kanyang sigasig para sa iyong kaluwalhatian,

at, sa kanyang pamamagitan,

malugod mong ipagkaloob ang aming mga hinihiling ng may kababaang-loob.

At nawa’y buong tapang din naming harapin ang lahat ng mga pagsubok,

gaya ng kanyang ipinakitang halimbawa,

para sa aming Pananampalatayang Katoliko.

Sa pamamagitan ni Jesu-Kristong aming Panginoon.

Amen. ◘

By Rev. Msgr. Rolando R. dela Cruz
Parish Priest, Paco Catholic Church

No Ceremony Possible to Mark 40th Anniversary of Takayama Memorial (Nov. 17, 2017)

Takayama statue is wrapped in industrial tape
Takayama statue is wrapped in industrial tape

►Dr. Ernie A. de Pedro, Takayama Managing Trustee, has surveyed the current status of the Takayama Memorial, and found the statue tightly wrapped in industrial tape and caged in a steel frame with wire-mesh to shield it from construction debris.

Though three Takayama devotees – Dr. E. A. de Pedro, Raquel Calma Nakayama, of Star Travel, and Teresa Cabigas (who all attended the Takayama Beatification Rites in Osaka on Feb. 7, 2017) — were prepared to drape garlands on Blessed Takayama on Nov. 17, the operation was deemed by project supervisors as too cumbersome to implement.

Another day will come! – when the situation at the Metro Manila Skyway Stage 3 project (MMSS-3 Project) clears up.


►Marks the 40th anniversary of the establishment of the Philippines-Japan Friendship Park at Plaza Dilao on Nov. 17, 1977.
►Marks the 25th (Silver) anniversary of the proclamation of the Takayama Memorial as a National Monument by the National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP) on Nov. 17, 1992.
►2017 marks the 425th year of the founding of the “Dilao” settlement in 1592 as the first ‘Japantown’ in the Philippines (originally at the area now occupied by Manila City Hall — next door to the sprawling Chinese “Parian” which was located at the Metropolitan Theater area).
►2017 marks the 255th year of the fourth relocation of the Japanese “nihon-machi” to its present site (at Paco Railway Station) in 1762. ◘

Marking Barrio Balete as a ‘Nihon-machi’ at San Marcelino Church, Manila

Manila Mayor Lito Atienza inaugurated the Balete Marker at the side of the San Marcelino Church on April 25, 2002
Manila Mayor Lito Atienza (r. 1998-2007) inaugurated the Balete Memorial at the side of the San Marcelino Church on April 25, 2002 — with Fr. Toru Nishimoto, CSsR, first Japanese Redemptorist missionary — who was assigned to Manila for 35 years.

►As Japanese pilgrims – visiting a Philippines to which their Japanese forebears had been deported four centuries ago – discovered there were many places in Manila associated with the Japanese Christian exiles who left Japan in 1614, they wanted permanent markers so future generations will know – before the fast pace of infrastructure development erases them from the map.

The best places for markers are in the grounds of Catholic churches associated with the Japanese Christians. The first such marker was installed at the San Marcelino Church (St. Vincent de Paul Church), on San Marcelino St., Manila

Text on the Plaque Was Both in English and Japanese

The ‘Balete Marker’ reads: “FIRST JAPANESE CHRISTIAN COMMUNITY – The barrio of Balete, along the Estero de Balete, was officially designated as a ‘Japantown’ in 1601 to accommodate hundreds of Japanese who had been settled in Dilao town since 1592.” [We do not know where 1601 came from.]

The marker was commissioned by Ryohei Fujimoto, a staunch Catholic from Kyoto who funded several scholarships for Filipino students – under the Pre-Evangelization Program (PEP) of Fr. Toru Albert Nishimoto, CSsR (1933 – Aug. 21, 2010), the first Japanese priest to join the Redemptorists.

The Cross is an exact copy of a Christian marker in Kyoto.

Manila Mayor Jose “Lito” Atienza (r. 1998-2007) inaugurated this Balete Memorial on April 25, 2002. ◘

By Dr. Ernie A. de Pedro
Managing Trustee
Lord Takayama Jubilee Foundation

Paete Is the Go-To Place for Wood-Carved ‘Santos’ for Philippine Churches

Paete Is the Go-To Place for Wood-Carved ‘Santos’ for Philippine Churches
Celebrated Paete woodcarver, Paloy Cagayat, in workclothes, presenting his ‘first cut’ of the Takayama statue to Dr. Ernie A. de Pedro, Managing Trustee, Lord Takayama Jubilee Foundation

By Dr. Ernie A. de Pedro

►Paete (Laguna Province) is acknowledged as the wood-carving capital of the Philippines. This reputation dates back to the town’s founding in 1580 when Franciscan friars discovered that residents had a talent for wood-carving, using ‘batikuling’ wood (“Elaeocarpus calomala”), a native tree species ideal for making religious images or “santos.” The town’s name in fact comes from “paet” or chisel, an essential woodcarver’s tool.

As the Spanish evangelization progressed across the archipelago, the town was tapped to supply the religious statuary needed for new houses of worship — and has not stopped carving ‘santos’ since then.

Today, there are around 500 woodcarvers working in some 50 wordcarving shops. The town’s masterpieces — in statues, pulpits, murals and bas relief — are found in churches, palaces and museums all over the world – among them St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, St. Patrick’s Cathedral, in New York, the Mission Dolorosa in San Francisco, the San Cayetano Church in Mexico, the St. Joseph’s shrine in Sta. Cruz, California, and various churches and chapels in the Philippines.

Paloy Is Commissioned to Make St. Calungsod Statues

When statues of St. Pedro Calungsod (c1654-1672) were required for the canonization rites in Rome (Oct. 21, 2012), the Jesuits (who promoted the Calungsod Beatification & Canonization) turned to Paloy Cagayat — Justino ‘Paloy’ A. Cagayat, Jr., a third-generation woodcarver – to carve the first statue. Though a graduate of Mining Engineering from Mapua University, Paloy has preferred to live and thrive by his inherited craft – which he is now sharing with his sons. He has supplied churches and chapels with his carvings of various saints, crucifixes and Biblical tableaux – but it was his near-monopoly of statues (in wood or resin) of St. Pedro Calungsod that he is best known for. In fact, the Vatican houses one of Paloy’s works and, in the way that the Vatican cares for such art treasures, the wood carving is bound to last for centuries.

His home and studio is in Paete, Laguna. No street address is necessary as he is such an institution that everyone in town knows where his shop is.

First Takayama Statue

It was an easy decision to commission Paloy to make the first 3-ft (altar-size) statue of Blessed Takayama. Sight unseen. Just by e-mail.

Fr. Joel E. Tabora, SJ, president of the Ateneo de Davao University, had gushed about Paloy’s work. That was enough recommendation for us.

Then I remembered a niece who lives in Isesaki (伊勢崎市) in Gunma Prefecture, whose name is Leticia Pedro Cagayat. Were they by any chance related? Yes, they were – but “malayong mag-kamaganak na.” But Letty and her family have visited Paloy in his workshop in Paete, to commission a Marian statue for the Carmelite Convent in Laoag, Ilocos Norte. Small world, indeed.

Visiting Paete

When we visited Paloy in Paete for his ‘first cut” of the Takayama statue, we were impressed with the quality of his work. We added four details: ♦ Blessed Takayama must sport the traditional topknot of a Japanese Samurai; ♦ wear the halo of a ‘Beatus’ (Blessed); ♦ wear the ‘Palm of Martyrdom’ across his chest. The final statue should have a ♦ bronze finish.

This ‘estampita’ shows Blessed Justo Takayama Ukon with a Samurai topknot and a ‘halo.’
This ‘estampita’ shows Blessed Justo Takayama Ukon with a Samurai topknot and a saintly ‘halo.’

Paco Catholic Church

THIS FIRST STATUE will be enshrined at the Paco Catholic Church – of which Dilao (the first ‘nihon-machi’ or Japantown) was a part. For Rev. Msgr. Rolando R. dela Cruz, Paco parish priest, it will be a ‘coming-home’ for Blessed Takayama. This will be on Thursday, Dec. 21, 2017 — the 403rd Anniversary of the arrival of ‘Lord Takayama Ukon and 350 Japanese Christian Exiles’ in Manila on Dec. 21, 1614.

Parishes desiring Takayama statues can contact the Takayama Canonization Movement at ( Individual devotees who want statuettes for their homeshrines can order too – when these are available by December 2017. ◘

Prayer Invoking Blessed Justo Takayama’s Intercession

Small crucifix hanging on old wooden wall near lighting candle

O GOD, in Your Wonderful Providence, You have chosen Justus Takayama Ukon to be a singular promoter of Your Kingdom, and an undaunted witness to the Catholic Faith —
REWARD, we beseech You, his zeal for Your Glory,
and graciously grant us what we humbly ask
through his intercession.
GRANT us also that, following his example,
we may bravely bear all trials
for the sake of our holy Catholic Faith.
Through Jesus Christ Our Lord. Amen. ◘
(by Fr. Johannes Laures, SJ)

Relic of Blessed Takayama Presented to Cardinal Tagle

At the Arzobispado de Manila: Kyoto Bishop Otsuka, Cardinal Tagle (holding Takayama relic) and Fr. Reginald “Regie” Malicdem, Rector of the Manila Cathedral
At the Arzobispado de Manila: Kyoto Bishop Otsuka, Cardinal Antonio Luis ‘Chito’ Tagle (holding Takayama relic encased in a golden reliquary) and Fr. Reginald ‘Regie’ Malicdem, Rector of the Manila Cathedral. (Cellphone photo by Fr. Albert Fuyuki Hirabayashi, SJ)

►A piece of the vest of Blessed Justo Takayama (1552-1615) was presented to Manila Archbishop Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle by Kyoto Bishop Paul Yoshinao Otsuka, chair of the CBCJ Committee for the Promotion of Saints. The presentation was made at the Arzobispado in Manila, on Thursday, Oct. 19, 2017.

The full Takayama vest had been presented as a second-class relic during the Takayama Beatification Rites in Osaka on Feb. 7, 2017, which was presided by Cardinal Angelo Amato, SDB, Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, on Pope Francis’s behalf.

Other pieces (uniformly encased in a golden reliquary) have been  presented to the principal Catholic churches in Osaka, Takatsuki and Kanazawa – all cities that figured in the life and career of the Christian daimyo Justo Takayama Ukon. The presentation in Manila – where Blessed Takayama died on Feb. 3, 1615 — completes the obligation to share the relics with Takayama devotees.

Another relic from the same cloth has been presented earlier to the Vatican.

Rev. Fr. Reginald R. Malicdem, Chancellor of the Archdiocese of Manila, Rector of Manila Cathedral, and Secretary of Cardinal Tagle, has announced that as of Oct. 27, “we have not yet decided on where the relic is going to be displayed and on the times it will be available for veneration.  Once we have decided on this, we will let [the faithful] know.” ◘

Dr. Ernie A. de Pedro
Managing Trustee
Lord Takayama Jubilee Foundation

The Takayama Memorial at Plaza Dilao Marks Its 40th Jubilee on Nov. 17, 2017 – A Milestone in Philippine-Japanese Relations

At the Takayama Memorial: Kyoto Bishop Paul Yoshinao Otsuka; then Manila Mayor Alfredo S. Lim (1992-1998; 2007-2013); Takamatsu Bishop Francis Xavier Osamu Mizobe, SDB (1935-2016), chair of the CBCJ Commitee for the Promotion of Saints; Dr. Ernie A. de Pedro (Lord Takayama Jubilee Foundation); Fr. Renzo de Luca, SJ (now Father Provincial of the Society of Jesus in Japan), and a Japanese Sister
At the Takayama Memorial: Kyoto Bishop Paul Yoshinao Otsuka; then Manila Mayor Alfredo S. Lim (1992-1998; 2007-2013); Takamatsu Bishop Francis Xavier Osamu Mizobe, SDB (1935-2016), chair of the CBCJ Commitee for the Promotion of Saints; Dr. Ernie A. de Pedro (Lord Takayama Jubilee Foundation); Fr. Renzo de Luca, SJ (now Father Provincial of the Society of Jesus in Japan), and Sister Elizabeth Chiaki MAEDA, of the Congregation of the Charity of Jesus. (The Congregation has a Caritas Don Bosco School in Santa Rosa, Laguna) 

►The Takayama Memorial is the First Postwar Affirmation of Philippine-Japanese Friendship – only 21 years after the Philippine signing and ratification of the Peace Treaty and Reparations Agreement with Japan in 1956. Both the memorial proponents in the Philippines and Japan settled on the Christian Samurai, Justo Takayama Ukon, who died in Manila on Feb. 3, 1615, as the outstanding personification of bilateral friendship and amity.

The Historical Milestones

Nov. 17, 1977 (under President Ferdinand E. Marcos) – Dedication of the Takayama Memorial at the Philippine-Japan Friendship Park at Plaza Dilao, Paco, Manila. Mrs. Imelda R. Marcos (who spearheaded Manila beautification efforts as Governor of Metro-Manila, 1975–1986) was not present as she was concerned about the strident student rallies mounted at the U.S. Embassy – yes! U.S., not Japanese — every week. (She was, in fact, with President Marcos on a state visit to Kenya.)

Nov. 17, 1992 (under President Fidel V. Ramos) – Declaration of the Takayama Memorial as a National Monument by the National Historical Institute (now National Historical Commission of the Philippines).

Earlier in Philippine-Japanese History:

1592 – Establishment of Dilao in Barrio Balete “two musket shots away” from the Walled City as a separate settlement for Japanese residents (in what is now the Manila City Hall area, under direct fire of four cannons mounted at the Baluarte de San Francisco de Dilao) – as a precaution against threats of the Japanese overlord, Kampaku Toyotomi Hideyoshi (then busy with the Invasion of Korea, 1592-1598) to send troops to Manila – unless tribute was sent to him. (In 1941 — 349 years later – Imperial Japanese Expeditionary Forces finally invaded the Philippines, occupying the U.S. Commonwealth from 1942-1945.)

1762 – Relocation — (its fourth and last) — of Dilao to its present area in Paco – in order to create a large open field for cannon-fire, to fight off British forces preparing to occupy Manila (1762-1764). When Dilao was relocated, the area allotted for Japanese descendants was 11,309 square meters, officially described by the Manila City Engineer as “Lot 5, Block No. 903 of the Manila Cadastre,” owned by the City of Manila. (Certification issued by the City Engineer on Nov. 26, 1973 at the request of the Japanese Embassy.)

In 1908, the Manila Belt Line from Tutuban to Muntinglupa line sliced through the Dilao area. The present Paco Railroad Station was constructed in 1912-1915, effectively dividing Dilao into a settlement behind the station, and the front area which was later called ‘Plaza Dilao’ as it measured only some 660 sq. meters.

Massive Infrastructure Development

In 2017, the Metro Manila Skyway Stage 3 project (MMSS-3 Project) sliced through Plaza Dilao — leaving a tiny parcel as a park, but still hosting the Takayama Memorial. Though no longer a real plaza, it will still be called Plaza Dilao – because there’s a history of 105 years behind it.

Japanese Catholic Pilgrims in Manila

THE BIGGEST postwar Japanese pilgrimage to Manila was on Feb. 3, 2011 —  the 396th death anniversary of Takayama Ukon — when 200 Japanese Catholics, led by Takamatsu Bishop Francis Xavier Osamu Mizobe (chair of the CBCJ Commitee for the Promotion of Saints), laid wreaths at the Takayama Memorial. Then Manila Mayor Alfredo S. Lim presented Bishop Mizobe with a Key to the City.

Manila barangay band serenading Japanese pilgrims with Filipino music.
Manila barangay band serenading Japanese pilgrims with Filipino music.

180 Japanese Catholics in 1937: Compare this 2011 delegation to the 180 Japanese Catholic delegation to the XXXIIIrd International Eucharistic Congress in Manila (Feb. 3-7, 1937) – the first Japanese Catholic excursion outside Japan since religious freedom was restored after the Meiji Restoration in 1871. Led by Fr. Paul Yoshigoro Taguchi (later Archbishop of Osaka), the Japanese delegates – in candle-lit procession from De La Salle College to the Luneta — wore native costumes with a riot of colors as they represented not only Japan but also the colonial territories of the Empire of Japan in 1937 — Korea, Manchuria, the Marianas, and Taiwan.

Some 180 Japanese Catholics, headed by Fr. Paul Yoshigoro Taguchi (future Archbishop-Cardinal of Osaka) represented the Empire of Japan – in their first foreign pilgrimage since the Meiji recognition of religious freedom.
Some 180 Japanese Catholics, headed by Fr. Paul Yoshigoro Taguchi (later Archbishop-Cardinal of Osaka) represented the Empire of Japan – in their first foreign pilgrimage since the Meiji recognition of religious freedom in 1871. As the first day of the Eucharistic Congress (Feb. 3-7) was the 322nd death anniversary of Takayama Ukon, the focus was on the Martyr Church of Japan.

350 Japanese Catholics Arrive in 1614: On Dec. 21, 1614, Lord Takayama and 350 Japanese Christians arrived in Manila in an overloaded Chinese junk as exiles from Japan, as the Tokogawa Shogunate launched the first efforts to deport Christian missionaries and their staunch Japanese adherents – making pointed examples of Lord Justo Takayama Ukon and Lord John Tocuan Naito. Except for Takayama and his family, who were accommodated in the Jesuit guesthouse ‘Casa San Miguel’ in Intramuros, all the Japanese Christians were settled in the encomiendia of San Miguel (awarded to the Jesuits in 1611), which formed part of the Jesuit parish of Quiapo. (There were thus two Japanese settlements: ♦ Dilao for Japanese merchants, mercenaries, sailors, castaways, and survivors of shipwrecks. ♦ San Miguel was exclusively for the Japanese Christian exiles. Here the Jesuits built a church, a convent for the ‘Beatas de Miyako,’ and a separate convent for Japanese Jesuits.

Lord Takayama DID VISIT Dilao – but skipped San Miguel, which was already Christian – to preach the Gospel to Japanese non-Christian settlers who were under the pastoral care of Franciscan missionaries. Ukon was accompanied by some of his five grandsons, who stood as godfathers or padrinos at the baptism of Japanese converts.

Takayama Presents His Katanas to the Franciscans

Part of Ukon’s wardrobe as a samurai-general was a couple of katanas. Was he afraid of being killed by fellow Japanese – a Tokogawa mercenary or a wako — in Dilao?

Lord Takayama presented his katanas to the pacifist Franciscan missionaries as a sign that – here in Manila — he was now past all conflicts – and beyond the ardent enticements of Spanish Governor-General Juan de Silva to plan and lead a hare-brained Spanish plan to invade Japan “to protect Japanese Christians.” ◘

Dr. Ernie A. de Pedro
Managing Trustee
Lord Takayama Jubilee Foundation