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Dom Justo Ukon Takayama of Manila (1552-1615) – Kirishitan Samurai, Martyr     

Lord Justo Ukon Takayama (1552 Osaka-1615 Manila), first Manileno proposed for sainthood in 1630

►(By Anthony Mathison, May 26, 2022) —  A recent thread here on FB sparked my historical geek instincts. I’ve loved the samurai and Japanese history & culture since I was a young boy; studies I’ve kept up to this very day. I can speak rudimentary Japanese, and have a growing understanding of Kanji (katakana and hiragana, being syllabaries, was far easier to master, lol). Since my childhood, I’ve been a huge fan of Takayama Shigetomo “Ukon” (an affectionate title) 高山 重友 右近 who remains perhaps the most famous Christian samurai. 

He was converted by Jesuit missionaries from Portugal and baptized at the age of eleven (11), but he embraced his faith fully by the age of 20 after he was nearly killed in a sword duel. His baptismal name was “Iustus,” and the Jesuits called him “Dom Justo.” He fought and led armies to help stabilize a fractured, warring Japan under the warlord Oda Nobunaga (織田 信長), who in turn tolerated Christian missionaries. 

Yet, when Nobunaga was assassinated by a disgruntled samurai, his vassal, Toyotomi Hideyoshi (豊臣 秀吉), took his place and was named chancellor (関白) by the Emperor, Go-Yōzei (後 陽成 天皇).

Toyotomi Hideyoshi, a devout Shinto-Buddhist, feared that the spread of Christianity in Japan would make it vulnerable to foreign invasion. A persecution of Christians soon began. Given Takayama Ukon’s past meritorious service, Hideyoshi offered to allow him to keep his castle and lands provided he renounce Christ. Without hesitation, Takayama refused and thus forfeited his rich lands. He sought refuge and service with an elderly warlord, Maeda Toshiie (前田 利家). From great lord to lowly samurai; a major downgrade!

Yet, it was not to last. Lord Maeda died in 1599, and the subsequent year, Lord Tokugawa Ieyasu (徳川 家康), a former vassal of the now dead Toyotomi, won the shogunate over Japan at the massive Battle of Sekigahara (関ヶ原). Fourteen years later, the Tokugawa government exiled all Christians (Kirishitans) who would not deny their faith…the rest they martyred or drove underground. Takayama Ukon left Nagasaki for the Spanish colony of the Philippines. 🇪🇸 He would never see his homeland again. Forty-four (44) days later, he died of a fever after having lost everything, yet living humbly and simply in full acceptance of God’s Will.

In 2016, Pope Francis took up the cause of Takayama Ukon’s canonization as a saint. Moreover, the Pope felt that since Takayama died in exile because of the weaknesses caused by the maltreatment he suffered in his homeland, the process would be that of a martyr. This was confirmed further because he renounced all he had to profess his Faith.

Subsequently, in 2017, Cardinal Amato declared the Christian samurai a blessed & martyr during a beatification ceremony in Osaka, Japan.

As per custom among saints, Blessed Takayama “Iustus” Ukon’s feast-day is the 3rd of February in the Roman Martyrology (i.e. “book of saints”). His iconographic attributes and symbols are a katana sword, a crucifix, samurai robes, and the palm of martyrdom. Naturally, he is patron saint of persecuted Christians (especially in Japan), and all Japanese who are forced to live outside their homeland.#

►”It is a brave act of valor to condemn death, but where life is more terrible than death, it is then the truest valor to dare to live.” ~Dr. Nitobe Inazō (新渡戸 稲造), “Bushido: The Soul of Japan” (1st ed., 1899).#

Updated Timeline of Blessed Takayama in Manila | Feb. 3, 2022

8-Member Family of Blessed Justus Ukon Takayama Arrives in Manila, 1614. (Painting by Derrick C. Macutay)
8-Member Family of Blessed Justus Ukon Takayama Arrives in Manila, 1614. (Painting by Derrick C. Macutay)

Jan. 21, 2016 – Pope Francis authorizes the Congregation for the Causes of the Saints (CCS) to publish Decree of Martyrdom declaring the Servant of God, Justus Ukon Takayama as a “layperson … from Japan [who] died from the hatred of the Faith on Feb. 3, 1615 in Manila, Philippines”;

Jan. 27, 2020 – Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle commends Canonization Cause of Blessed Takayama to the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) at its 120th Plenary Assembly;

Feb. 3, 1615 – Death of Justus Ukon Takayama in the Jesuit (now PLM) Compound, Intramuros, Manila;

Feb. 3, 2018 – Liturgical Feast Day of Blessed Takayama in Japan and the Philippines;

Feb. 7, 2017 – Beatification Rites for Takayama in Osaka Archdiocese, Japan;

March 1, 2017 – Jesuit journal “La Civilta Cattolica” publishes “Justus Takayama Ukon: The Great Japanese Missionary of the 16th Century”;

March 25, 2021 – Canonical Erection of Blessed Justo Takayama Ukon Mission Station in Jamindan, Capiz by Cardinal Jose F. Advincula;

March 28, 2017 – Blessing of Takayama Shrine at entrance of University of Santo Tomas (UST) Graduate School;

April 24, 1590 – Apostolic “Breve” of Pope Sixtus V (r. 1590-1595) sent to Ukon, who was stripped of his second feudal domain in Akashi Prefecture for refusing to abjure his Christian faith;

June 1, 1563 – Baptismal day of Justus Hikogoro Takayama, named after St. Justin Martyr (A.D. 100-165), whose feast day is June 1;

June 10, 1994 – Justus Ukon Takayama declared “Servant of God”; ● July 23, 1987 – Jesuit General Postulator, Fr. Paolo Molinari, entrusts to Prof. Ernesto A. de Pedro the translation to English of the “Positio: Servus Dei, Justus Takayama Ukon: Materia Praeparata Pro Propositione Super Virtutibus Servi Dei Justi Takayama Ukon” submitted in 1975 by the Catholic Bishops Conference of Japan (CBCJ);

June 29, 2019 – Installation of Takayama altar-statue at PLM Chapel (in the Jesuit compound where Ukon died on Feb. 3, 1615) by Manila Cardinal Tagle;

July 24, 1587 – Chancellor Toyotomi Hideyoshi(1537-1598) strips Lord Takayama of his domain in Akashi (明石市) in Hyōgo Prefecture;

July 25, 2019 – Pope Francis imparts Apostolic Blessing to Dr. Ernesto A. de Pedro and Prayer Warriors of Blessed Takayama;

Sept. 20, 1942 – Commemorative Mass for Dom Justo Ukon Takayama at San Vicente De Paul Parish Church at San Marcelino St., Ermita, Manila, celebrated by Osaka Bishop Paul Yoshigoro Taguchi, with the Philippine church hierarchy and top Filipino officials of the Philippine ExecutiveCommission (PEC) in attendance;

Sept. 29, 1988 – Japanese and Filipino history buffs organize “Takayama Ukon Kensho Zaidan” (English: Lord Takayama Jubilee Foundation), the first support group for Takayama’s Sainthood Cause, now superseded by the Prayer Warriors of Blessed Takayama;

Oct. 5, 1630 – Petition sent to the Vatican by the Manila Archdiocese proposing Takayama as the first Manila Catholic to be considered for sainthood;

Nov. 14, 1963 – Manila Cardinal Rufino J. Santos “seconds” Takayama Beatification Cause to Osaka Bishop (later Cardinal) Paul Yoshigoro Taguchi;

Nov. 17, 1977 – Inauguration of the Takayama Memorial as the centerpiece of the Philippines-Japan Friendship Park at Plaza Dilao, Paco, Manila;

Nov. 17, 1992 – Declaration of the Takayama Memorial as a National Monument by the National Historical Commission;

Dec. 21, 1614 – Arrival in Manila of Dom Justus Ukon Takayama with the first boatload of 350 Catholic refugees and migrants deported from Japan;

Dec. 21, 2018 – Manila City Council issues Resolution declaring December 21 every year as “Blessed Takayama Ukon Day” in Manila. ◘

Dr. Ernesto A. de Pedro, PhD
Lead Promoter


Abp. Charles J. Brown, Extols Heroic Virtues of Japanese-Born Manila Martyr, Blessed Takayama

►Blessed Takayama of Manila was a samurai from the hereditary military nobility of Japan. The samurai were soldiers, were warriors, and it’s interesting how many Catholic saints were soldiers.

Secondly, Blessed Takayama is an example of holiness and resistance to injustice.

And thirdly and lastly, I think that Blessed Takayama also for us a good example of the importance and indeed the precious quality of refugees and migrants. Because he was a refugee. Literally, a refugee from Japan who came here on a boat. A refugee who was a saint.

Takayama family in Intramuros, Manila

HOMILY delivered by Abp. Charles J. Brown, at the Feast Day Mass of Blessed Takayama at Santisimo Rosario Parish Church (UST Chapel) on Feb. 3, 2022.

►As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.” (Romans 8:36). No, in all these things we are more than yconquerors through zhim who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers,

No in all these things we conquer overwhelmingly through Him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, it gives me so much joy to have the privilege to celebrate this Mass in commemoration of Blessed Justo Takayama Ukon.

I was very grateful for the invitation that I received from Dr. Ernesto De Pedro, Managing Trustee of the Prayer Warriors of Blessed Takayama to celebrate this Mass here in the Chapel at U.S.T. – University of Santo Tomas. And I’m grateful to Fr. Paul Talavera for having invited me to be with all of you this afternoon.

The story of Blessed Justo Takayama is intimately connected to the story of the evangelization of Japan, and also of course the story of the Catholic Church here in the Philippines. The Catholic faith had arrived in Japan, in Nagasaki by means of St. Francis Xavier and the Jesuits in the 1540’s and there briefly flourished and was very effective in evangelization, over one hundred thousand people became Catholic in a short time in Japan in the 1540’s and the 1550’s including many people from the noble class, from the land-owning class.

But the faith began to provoke also resentment and opposition. And then beginning in the 1560’s there was a series of edicts issued by the Emperor restricting and finally banishing Christianity, Catholicism in Japan. Beginning in the 1560’s but increasingly into the 1580’s.

And there we begin to see the connection with Manila, because in 1593 during the time in which the Catholic faith was suffering repression in Japan, a saint from Manila, who was originally from Spain, San Pedro Bautista went from here, from the Philippines to Japan with his companions. And continued that work of evangelization.

And as we know, San Pedro Bautista himself, after having founded hospitals and churches in Japan was martyred for the faith in 1597, in February of 1597 in Nagasaki. (San) Pedro Bautista and twenty-five other Christian Catholics were crucified in Nagasaki in 1597.

That, Brothers and Sisters, is the context in which our Blessed Takayama was living in Japan. He had been baptized into the faith as a young boy of eleven  years old in 1563. So just as this persecution was beginning. And he experienced that persecution very, very personally. He was from the ruling class. He was from the military class. He was a samurai, a man of great nobility, of great human qualities. And he and his family had become Christian, indeed his parents had become Christians and passed the faith onto him. He had in the beginning of his Christian life was not terribly devout, but later on experienced a kind of reconversion, and became very, very fervent. But he then began to suffer this repression, this persecution. But was also an incredibly effective evangelizer, because of the nobility of his character, because of the beauty of his person, because the convincing power of his example – many Japanese even in the midst of this time of opposition and in deep persecution were becoming Catholic.

So finally, in 1614, so that was quite a bit later on as almost fifty years he had become a Catholic through baptism, he was exiled from Japan. With something like 300 other Japanese Christians and some foreign missionaries. They were loaded on to a ship departing from Nagasaki in November of 1614, and arrived here in Manila more than a month later on December 21st of 1614 of that year.

And because of the prominent figure of Blessed Takayama, he was received by the Governor General Juan de Silva here in Manila with high honors. But the voyage was quite difficult and he had become quite sick and ill during the voyage. And then here in Manila after having arrived, he then, approximately 44 days after his arrival here in Manila, the Lord called him to his heavenly reward. And he went into heaven on the 3rd of February of 1615, and was buried in the Jesuit church in the southern part of Intramuros.

So we have this amazing story of a man deeply immersed in his own culture who became an amazing evangelizer, and then because of the persecution, he was exiled from his country and ended up here in Manila, where he went into his heavenly glory in 1615.

He was beatified, only about 5 years ago, by Cardinal Angelo Amato, on his trip to Japan indeed he was beatified in Osaka, on February 7th of 2017.

And the following day in Rome, Pope Francis on the 8th of February of 2017 was reflecting on the beatification and said this, the day after in Rome:

“Yesterday in Osaka, Japan, Justo Takayama Ukon was beatified.” And then he summed up his life in a few words. “Rather than compromise, he renounced his honors and comforts, accepting humiliation and exile; he remained faithful to Christ, and faithful to the Gospel. And for this reason, he represents an admirable example of fortitude in the faith and dedication in charity.”

This is the glory of Blessed Takayama. The fact that he was able to sacrifice his honors, indeed his homeland, for the sake of Christ. What a beautiful figure for us today and when we reflect on his life, there’s a few things I think, for me studying his life and reading about him in these days that really impressed me.

First of all, the fact that he was a samurai. He was from the hereditary military nobility. The samurai were soldiers, were warriors, and it’s interesting, isn’t it? Brothers and sisters, how many Catholic saints were soldiers. We think of Saint Martin of Tours. We think of Saint Ignatius of Loyola. Even think of Saint Joan of Arc, a warrior. Or Blessed Charles de Foucauld, who will be canonized by Pope Francis this year. All of these people were military people who were then converted to Christ and their spirit of service, and indeed of combat was translated into spiritual combat. And that is the role that all of us as Catholics have to assume. Our lives as Christians in the Church militant which is a church on this earth are lives of combat. Combat against sin, combat against discouragement, the unseen warfare of the heart. The warfare in which we allow God’s grace to make us victorious over sin and death. That is the process of Christian life and it’s a spiritual battle, a spiritual combat which we fight. And these saints like Blessed Takayama who were soldiers, kind of give us an image of that spiritual combat.

Secondly, Blessed Takayama is an example of holiness and resistance to injustice. He did allow the unjust rules of persecution of Christians to discourage him. He remained faithful to his commitment to Jesus, to his love for our Lady.

Indeed, he brought here to Manila that beautiful statue of our Lady – “La Japona” — that he brought from Japan. He did not allow the opposition of the world to defeat him or to discourage him.

And that, brothers and sisters is a message that we can take home for us today. Do not allow even allow today in 2022, the spirit of the world to conquer of defeat you or discourage you. Because in Christ, we conquer over sin and death. In Jesus, all things are possible. Our faith is life that triumphs over sin and death. Blessed Takayama illustrated that and manifested that in his life. He manifested the fact that the Kingdom of God is within us and the spiritual combat that allows that Kingdom of God to conquer, first of all our hearts will then be spread to those around us. But the first battle is the interior battle. Then, the exterior battle.

And thirdly and lastly, I think that Blessed Takayama also for us a good example of the importance and indeed the precious quality of refugees and migrants. Because he was a refugee. Literally, a refugee from Japan who came here on a boat. A refugee who was a saint.

In the Letter to the Hebrews, there’s those famous words, “Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers.” For by doing so, that is by showing hospitality to strangers, some in a classic phrase have entertained angels unawares. What does it mean? That sometimes by receiving strangers, migrants and refugees, we are giving hospitality to angels without being aware of it.

And indeed, here in the Philippines, the beautiful Catholic culture, which is already in place here in Manila, received with open arms this Catholic refugee from Japan; and received perhaps not an angel unawares, but a saint unawares! A saint who later on would be beatified, and God willing, canonized.

So, it makes us remember, reflect and also be proud of the spirit also here in the Philippines of receiving immigrants and people who need shelter and protection. It’s something that Pope Francis is constantly reminding us of. And we see this example in the 17th century, in the 1600’s – an example that remains valid for us even more today in our own world.

So, dear brothers and sisters in Christ, for me as your Apostolic Nuncio, as a representative of Pope Francis here in the Philippines, it gives me so much joy to celebrate this Mass in commemoration of Blessed Takayama. Let’s ask for his intercession. Let’s ask also that we may have the grace to imitate him in his steadfastness, in his spiritual combat, and his love for our Lady and in his triumph over sin and death.

May God bless you. ###

Transcribed by Raul Roque
Trustee, Prayer Warriors of Blessed Takayama

Blessed Justus Ukon Takayama (1552 Osaka-1615 Manila), ‘Samurai of Christ’ & Martyr

►Timeline of Blessed Takayama’s journey to sainthood:

Blessed Justus Ukon Takayama (1552-1615)

●1614, Dec. 21 – Arrival in Manila of exiled “Samurai of Christ,” Dom Justus Ukon Takayama (1552-1615) with the first boatload of 350 Catholic refugees and migrants deported from Japan;

●1615, Feb. 3 – Death of Justus Ukon Takayama in the Jesuit (now PLM) Compound, Intramuros, Manila;

●1630, Oct. 5 – Petition sent to the Vatican by the Manila Archdiocese proposing Takayama as the first Manila Catholic to be considered for sainthood;

●1963, Nov. 14 – Manila Cardinal Rufino J. Santos “seconds” Takayama Beatification Cause to Osaka Bishop (later Cardinal) Paul Yoshigoro Taguchi;

●1977, Nov. 17 – Inauguration of the Takayama Memorial as the centerpiece of the Philippines-Japan Friendship Park at Plaza Dilao, Paco, Manila;

●1987, July 23 – Jesuit General Postulator, Fr. Paolo Molinari, entrusts to Prof. Ernesto A. de Pedro the translation to English of the “Positio: Servus Dei, Justus Takayama Ukon: Materia Praeparata Pro Propositione Super Virtutibus Servi Dei Justi Takayama Ukon” submitted in 1975 by the Catholic Bishops Conference of Japan (CBCJ);

●1994, June 10 – Justus Ukon Takayama declared “Servant of God”;

●2016, Jan. 21 – Pope Francis authorizes the Congregation for the Causes of the Saints (CCS) to publish Decree of Martyrdom declaring the Servant of God, Justus Ukon Takayama as a “layperson … from Japan [who] died from the hatred of the Faith on Feb. 3, 1615 in Manila, Philippines”;

●2017, Feb.7 – Beatification Rites for Ven. Takayama in Osaka Archdiocese, Japan;

●2019, July 25 – Pope Francis imparts Apostolic Blessing to Dr. Ernesto A. de Pedro and Prayer Warriors of Blessed Takayama;

●LAST STEP – Canonization (i.e., enrollment in the Canon of Saints) upon approval of validating miracle.#

Dr. ERNESTO A. DE PEDRO, PhD
Takayama Trustee

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Blessed Justus Takayama, Japanese Samurai, Remained ‘Rock Solid for Christ’

Fr. Paul Glynn, S.M., author of “A Song for Nagasaki” (1988), shares some history from Blessed Takayama’s amazing life.

►St. Francis Xavier strode manfully from a small boat into feudal Japan on the feast of Mary’s Assumption, August 15, 1549, the day he had taken his vows as a Jesuit.

There was no semblance of a dictionary that translated Japanese words and ideographs into Roman letters.

Trying to get Japanese words to express Christian concepts was a huge task, but Xavier’s sheer holiness won him some very important Japanese converts.

One was a physically handicapped musician who had been making a living by travelling around towns playing his lute and reciting old folk stories.

This eloquent wandering minstrel was baptized by Fr. Xavier and eventually became the able catechist Jesuit Brother Rorenzo.

On one occasion Bro. Rorenzo spent several whole, uninterrupted days arguing, counter arguing, evangelizing and finally converting a “Daimyo” – the Japanese title for a feudal lord. This castellan Takayama Tomutero (later baptized as Dom Dario Takayama) lived in a small castle in Nara Prefecture.

In 1563, Bro. Rorenzo had the joy of accompanying Fr. Gaspar Vilela, SJ, to the castle for the baptism of the whole Takayama family, including eldest son Takayama Ukon, then 11 years old.

It was 1563; Takayama Ukon would become a great and famous Daimyo early in his adult life, and would end up living in grand stone castles commanding extensive holdings in what is today Kobe City.

He would lead many to baptism – aristocrats, samurai, farming folk and town dwellers.

The Jesuits wrote enthusiastic letters back to Europe about this Takayama Ukon, letters also expressing great hopes for the future of the small but quickly spreading communities of Japanese Christians.

Fr Xavier had earlier written to Jesuit headquarters in Rome describing the Japanese as a highly cultured people, predicting they would become great Christians.

DISASTER

But then disaster struck, initiated by the lies and boasts of the Spanish captain of the ship “San Felipe.”

On its voyage from the Philippines to Mexico, it ran into a roaring cyclone that tore off the masts and sails and dumped it on the Japanese coast – with most of the cargo and crew intact.  By Japanese custom, the local Daimyo looked after the crew, but the cargo was his.

When the ship’s captain was told this, he responded with a lie and a threat.

“You’ve seen the Spanish missionaries in Japan. Well they are the forerunners of the Spanish Army who will soon come and make Japan a colony. You will be in big trouble then if you have stolen my cargo.”

This threat was relayed to Kampaku (Chancellor) Hideyoshi, the generalissimo and real ruler of Japan – the Emperor was a powerful symbol, eking out cultured boredom in a gilded cage in Kyoto.

The Kampaku looked apprehensively at the Philippines and Mexico, and the seemingly unstoppable armies from Europe.

This set the scene for the persecution of Christians in Japan.

FIRST BLOW IN 1597

Hideyoshi, now Taiko (Retired Regent) since 1592 waited because he wanted to continue trade with Europeans via their ships.

But early in 1597 he struck a fierce blow – a total ban on Japanese Christian and western missionaries.

He had risen to prominence from humble beginnings by ruthless violence.

He now decided to terrorize every Japanese Christian and foreign missionary by public and gruesome executions in Nagasaki, where Christians were numerous.

Famous Christian Samurai Takayama would head the list of about 20 missionaries and Japanese Christians to be executed.

These “criminals” would have ears sliced off, loaded into open carts and paraded around the capital city Kyoto.

Then guarded by unmerciful samurai, they would be forced to march to Nagasaki, 30 days away, during the coldest time of the year.

There they would be fastened to crosses in mockery of this foreign Christian religion.

The local governor was ordered to make as many citizens as possible attend.

Everything was to be unhurried and drawn out, to heighten the terror for both the crucified and the onlookers.

Finally the two samurai, who had been standing right under each of the crucified, with the steel tip of a lance very visible, would thrust the lance deep and up under the rib cage of the crucified.

The last punishment was the refusal of burial for their corpse that would remain on the crosses until they rotted away.

The Taiko’s advisors did not oppose the gory executions but they advised the Taiko that Daimyo Takayama was too highly respected, famous throughout Japan as a man of great courage and ability, and a lover of the highest expressions of Japanese culture – the Way of the classical Tea Ceremony, Haiku poetry, fine calligraphy – and a brilliant designer of Daimyo castles.

The advisors dared not raise with lecherous Hideyoshi another reason for Takayama’s fame – his total faithfulness to his wife Justa Kuroda, in an era of sexual abandon among the powerful men of the land.

His advisors suggested that crucifying Daimyo Takayama like a common criminal could cause dangerous resentment and possibly harm to the Taiko’s “great reputation.”

So Taiko Hideyoshi took Takayama off the list of those to be executed on February 6, 1597.

However the merciless Taiko was angry that Takayama still lived publicly as a Christian, despite the Taiko outlawing Christianity.

To backtrack some years, Sen no Rikyu, still venerated by most Japanese, was the acknowledged creator of the fully developed Japanese Tea Ceremony, “Chado”, The Way of Tea, which was fast becoming the quintessence of Japanese refinement and culture for the ruling classes.

The Tea Ceremony is not like a casual cup of tea with friends.

The Tea Ceremony is conducted mostly in silence, taking an hour or more, and is acted out according to a solemn ritual full of spiritual symbols. Often when Japanese Tea Ceremony people attend Mass for the first time they will say the Mass reminded them of their much loved Tea discipline.

This famous and venerated Sen no Rikyu had publicly named the young Daimyo Takayama Ukon as one of his seven “mana deshi” – “most beloved disciple” – among the many Japanese who now practised the Tea cultural expression he created.

Kampaku Hideyoshi, who was also a follower of this Way of Tea, of course knew Sen no Kikyu personally.

He called Rokyu to his castle, and ordered him to visit Takayama with this stern warning.

“I order you to renounce your Christian beliefs. I am your liege lord. If you do not obey me you are betraying ‘bushido’, the Way of the Samurai. The whole warrior class in Japan, from the Shogun to humblest samurai, vows to follow this Way until death. Bushido demands total obedience to your liege lord. I as Shogun am your liege lord and order you to renounce this foreign religion. If you refuse to obey you are breaking the bushido vow, and will have to suffer the consequences.”

The consequences the Shogun referred to was the duty of hara kiri (seppuku), the ritualistic disembowelling of oneself with a short sword.

Samurai history up to the Emperor Meiji era that began in 1868 has many famous examples of hara kiri as “atonement” for breaking the bushido vow of obedience to one’s liege lord.

So the Kampaku was telling Takayama to reject Christianity or commit hari kiri.

If Takayama died by hari kiri there would be no backlash against the Kampaku.

Sen no Rikyu had no alternative but deliver the Kampaku’s orders.

To crafty Hideyoshi the spirited Daimyo Takayama replied immediately and masterfully, neither rejecting bushido nor his Christian faith: “I accept Kampaku Hideyoshi as my liege lord on this earth. But, higher than my earthly bushido obligation is my totally absolute obligation to obey Jesus, my Divine liege Lord, the Heavenly liege Lord of all earthly lords. I cannot renounce Him from whom I have received life itself, and the promise of eternal salvation.” Sen no Rikyu made no effort to persuade his Way of Tea disciple to renounce Christ.

He later whispered to another Tea disciple that Daimyo Takayama had not betrayed the samurai code, nor the highest ideals of Chado, the Way of Tea.

Probably this refusal of Sen no Rikyu to urge obedience to the Kampaku was one of the reasons why the Shogun ordered Sen no Rikyu to commit hara kiri, four years later in 1591.

The heroic Chado leader obeyed his liege lord Hideyoshi, called close Tea friends to a final Tea Ceremony, handed them his Tea utensils as keepsakes, bowed peacefully, and left them to commit hara kiri alone – to the immense chagrin of all noble-minded Japanese from that year right down to the present day.

When Kampaku Hideyoshi received Takayama’s reply from Sen no Rikyu he was infuriated. He ordered the immediate seizure of Takayama, his castle, lands and all his possessions, reducing him to the ignominious, lowest rank of a samurai, masterless “ronin”, whom no Daimyo could employ or shelter.

Takayama, his wife and family were banished to an inhospitable area of Kanazawa in the present day Ishikawa Prefecture.

Homeless ex-Daimyo Takayama first went to the Jesuit house at Arie, asking to be allowed to do a week’s retreat based on St. Ignatius Loyola’s “Spiritual Exercises.”

Takayama was a great admirer of St. Ignatius who once was a knight, filled with love for chivalrous tales of knights who saved fair princesses.

The converted Ignatius chose poverty to follow Christ.

Samurai Takayama told his wife and family that they now had the opportunity to do the same for Christ.

Fortified by the Ignatian retreat, and at peace, Takayama asked for the prayers of the Jesuits and then led his family to what became a hand-to-mouth existence in a hostile environment.

However as soon as he arrived there he began a fearless and free life of spreading knowledge and love of the now outlawed Christ of the Gospels.

The Taiko Hideyoshi died the next year, 1598.

SHOGUN TOKUGAWA IEYASU

Brilliant military strategist Daimyo Tokugawa leyasu, determined to become the new Shogun, waged a series of battles to the death of all rivals.

He destroyed the last of them at Sekigahara in the year 1600 and became the Shogun.

He wanted to unite the whole war-torn land by declaring Shinto the religion all must follow.  After consolidating his position he re-issued the ban on Christianity and began a merciless war against Christians in 1614.

He knew ex-Daimyo Takayama was spreading Christianity in the provinces and sent a grim message to him. Takayama ignored it.

Some new friends advised Takayama to save himself and his family by a “seeming” obedience to Tokugawa’s order.

Takayama replied, “For a man who has a sense of honor, and is firmly convinced of his Christian religion, it is inadmissible to even speak of such cowardice.”

Shogun Tokugawa then sent samurai to arrest Takayama and bring him bound to Kyoto.

There Tokugawa worked on still famous Takayama for seven months, alternating between enticements of rewards and savage death threats.

Takayama remained rock solid for Christ.

On November 8, Takayama, his wife Justa Kuroda, their daughter Lucia Yokoyama and their five grandchildren, 350 missionaries and Japanese Christian laymen were put on a small boat and deported to Manila.

By now Takayama’s body was broken.

Forty-four days after arriving in the Philippines, Dom Justo Ukon Takayama died during the night of February 3, 1615.

BEATIFICATION IN OSAKA ON FEB. 7, 2017

On February 7, 2017, Cardinal Angelo Amato, SDB, Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, celebrated the Beatification Rites for Ven. Justo Ukon Takayama, elevating him to the ranks of the “Blessed.”#

Fr. Paul Glynn, author of “A Song for Nagasaki,” published in 13 languages and which is the basis of the movie “All That Remains” is a Marist priest and native of Australia. Ordained in 1953, Fr Glynn spent 25 years as a missionary in Japan.

Out ‘in the Peripheries’ of the Capiz Archdiocese is the New Blessed Justo Takayama Ukon Mission Station

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►The Canonical Erection by Capiz Archbishop Jose F. Cardinal Advincula is set for Thursday, March 25, at the Brgy. Lucero Covered Gym, Jamindan, Capiz.

Blessed Justo Takayama Ukon (1552 Osaka-1615 Manila), the Japanese-born Manila martyr, is the beloved patron of the “Blessed Justo Takayama Ukon Mission Station” whose main chapel —  San Isidro Labrador Chapel (*in photo) – is in Brgy. Lucero, Jamindan, Capiz.

>>>BASIC ECCLESIAL COMMUNITIES: The Mission Station has  45 Basic Ecclesial Communities (BECs).

>>>BARANGAYS: The mission station serves the barangays of  Agbun-od,  Igang,  Lucero,  Pasol-o,  San Juan Proper, and Sitios of ◘ Agdadangag, ◘ Bunglas & ◘ Embakatutan of  Brgy. Milan, Jamindan, Capiz.

>>>19 CHAPELS: The “Blessed Justo Takayama Ukon Mission Station” in Brgy. Lucero, Jamindan, Capiz has 19 chapels in six Barangays: ◘ Lucero, ◘ Igang, ◘ Agbun-od, ◘ San Juan Proper, ◘ Milan & ◘ Pasol-o.

>>>THE PRIEST-IN-CHARGE is  Rev. Fr. Krys Señerez.#

Raul Roque
Auxuliary, Missionary Disciples for the  New Evangelization

Death and Martyrdom in Manila – in the Month of Love

►(By Jaime C. Laya | Opinion-Editorial “WALA LANG,” Manila Bulletin, Feb. 15, 2021) — February is not a happy month in Philippine-Japan relations. The Battle of Manila raged 76 years ago in February 1945 and a persecuted Japanese feudal lord died here in February 1615.

By the late 1500s, the Dutch were already in the Spice Islands, the Spanish were colonizing the Philippines, and the Portuguese were in Macao. They all wanted to have part of the action in China and Japan, in both trade and religion. The Japanese were Buddhists and Shinto believers. Christians, both Catholic and Protestant, wanted conversions.#

Illustration of Justo Ukon Takayama (1552 Osaka-1615 Manila) by Utagawa Yoshiiku (1833-1904)

►Japan was feudal with four major ranks. The ♦Shogun controlled the military and was the most powerful person of Japan. Under him were ♦Daimyo, a couple of hundred lords who controlled, in effect owned, whole provinces and everything in them. Daimyos each had an army of ♦Samurai who were independent knights and soldiers and in the fourth rank were ♦farmers and peasants. People in the two lower ranks were compensated by the Daimyo for their loyalty and service with rice, land, housing, or other valuables.#

►Above the Shogun was the ♦Emperor who was more symbol than real power. Below farmers and peasants were ♦merchants. Still lower on the totem pole were the “Ainu,” the ethnic minority, as well as butchers and other workers in taboo occupations.

In 1548, San Francisco Javier, a Jesuit, arrived from Goa to introduce Christianity to the Japanese. Thereafter a stream of Portuguese traders and Jesuit missionaries came to Japan. Allowed much leeway, the Jesuits were successful and it is estimated that by 1580 there were 150,000 converts and 200 churches.#

►Among the high-ranking converts was Takayama Tomoteru of Sawa Castle in Yamato province. He converted in 1564 at which time he also had his eldest son ♦Takayama Hikogoro (1552-1615) baptized. The son was given the Christian name Justo and consequently also bore the names ♦Justo Takayama Ukon and ♦Dom Justo Takayama. While still in his teens, he was already an outstanding Samurai, distinguished for courage and fighting skill.#

►Spanish Franciscans followed the Jesuits and with their combined and intensified proselytization, complaints and intrigues proliferated—missionaries ignored the authorities, displayed antisocial behavior, were intolerant of the established Buddhist and Shinto beliefs. There was suspicion that they aimed to weaken the existing social and power structure. It also seems there was rivalry and differences in approach between Jesuits and Franciscans, which did not help any.

The outcome was an order issued in 1587 by Kampaku Toyotomi Hideyoshi for the expulsion of all missionaries and for Japanese Christians to renounce their faith. The order was not strictly enforced but life became more difficult for Japanese Christians.

►Takayama Ukon refused to repudiate Christianity, choosing instead to lose his lands and possessions and be stripped of authority and privileges. He was sentenced to be prisoner of another Daimyo.  He wasn’t locked up but retained a position of respect, winning battles on behalf of his custodian. That may also have been when he became a Master of the Japanese tea ceremony.

Among the Franciscans who worked in Japan was ♦San Pedro Bautista. He had arrived in the Philippines in 1584 and served among other places in Sta. Ana, Manila and in Lumbán and Los Baños, Laguna. He rose in the Franciscan hierarchy and built a novitiate and convent that still exists in San Francisco del Monte, Quezon City. In 1593, he was sent to Japan to appease Hideyoshi who had threatened to invade the Philippines. He succeeded and was allowed to establish a hospital and begin work in Kyoto.

A couple of years later, the galleon San Felipe, on the way to Mexico, was driven by a typhoon to Japan. The authorities found soldiers, cannon, and ammo aboard and confirmed suspicions that religion and trade were the thin edge of the wedge that would lead to conquest.#

►Thus began the persecution of missionaries and converts. It eventually resulted in the martyrdom of some 500 persons, starting with the torture and crucifixion on Feb. 5, 1597 of the so-called 26 Martyrs of Nagasaki—six Spanish Franciscans and Dominicans from Manila, 17 Japanese and Korean catechists, and three Japanese Jesuits, including ♦San Pablo Miki. About 130 churches were set afire.

Among the 26 martyrs were Franciscans San Pedro Bautista and San Felipe de Jesus.  San Felipe de Jesus was collateral damage. He was Mexican and went to Manila to live the good life selling jewelry. He had a change of heart, however, and decided to become a priest. He completed his studies and was a passenger on the ill-fated galleon returning to Mexico to be ordained, and not to be a missionary in Japan.#

►Takayama Ukon had been living quietly. Matters had gone from bad to worse, however, and a new ♦Shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu directed draconian measures against Christians. Takayama was sent to exile and after an arduous 10-month trek across Japan, he and some 300 family members, fellow converts and religious, reached Nagasaki where a ship waited to bring them to Manila. The ship lifted anchor on Nov. 8, 1614 and arrived in Manila a month later, on Dec. 21, when a huge crowd led by ♦Governor-General Juan de Silva welcomed them with high honors.

Weakened by the hardships of the long journey, Takayama Ukon died 44 days after arrival, on Feb. 3, 1615. He was interred in the Jesuit Church, located in the present ♦Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila (PLM) campus at the south end of Intramuros. His resting place may have been at the church sanctuary, where the university’s main entrance now is, at the corner of General Luna and Muralla Steets.#

►Takayama Ukon was beatified in a ceremony held in Osaka on Feb. 7, 2017. Comments are cordially invited, addressed to walangwala888@gmail.com
https://mb.com.ph/2021/02/15/death-and-martyrdom-in-the-month-of-love/?fbclid=IwAR1VCxacEphZwMvvpiJUneKz5_jJqKwJY78B-RwdqKmq0nmvlEurOk3CZUM

Sharing Write-up on Blessed Justo Takayama from Japanese Bishops

A MAN WHO WALKED THE PATH OF OBEDIENCE: JUSTO TAKAYAMA UKON (1552-1615)

Blessed Justo Ukon Takayama (1552-1615), Christian Samurai/Martyr

►The Catholic Church in Japan, from its very beginning, has had a history quite unique among other nations of the world.

The gospel introduced by Francis Xavier in 1549 spread throughout the land and records show that within some 40 years the number of the faithful surpassed 300,000. However, in 1587, while the Church was still young, the powerful Toyotomi Hideyoshi (1537-1598) made Christianity the target of a policy of persecution. This policy only hardened as the years advanced, and at the beginning of the 17th century, if anyone was discovered to hold the Christian faith, not only he himself but also his whole family were executed.

This policy of prohibition continued for more than 280 years, until 1873.

It is said that under this policy, more than 20,000 were martyred. Despite these conditions, the Church in Japan did not die out. From the beginning of the 17th century, when the persecution became intense, throughout the more than 200 years that followed, the faithful, deprived of support by priests and religious, held on to their faith.

THE LIFE OF UKON

The famous Christian feudal lord Justo Takayama Ukon (1552-1615) laid the foundation on which the Church described above was solidly built. Ukon is known as a typical feudal lord active in the middle of the 16th century, during the latter part of Japan’s century of civil wars.

Ukon met up with Jesuit missionaries and was baptized at the age of 12 along with his father Dario. Ukon was an active and trusted vassal of Oda Nobunaga (1534-1582), who finally subdued the long drawn-out civil wars, as well as of Hideyoshi, Nobunaga’s successor. These two Shoguns made major moves toward concentrating their own personal control over the whole of Japan.

However, although Hideyoshi had previously shown understanding toward the Church, in 1587 he suddenly did an about-face in his religious policy, ordering the deportation of missionaries, destroying churches in Kyoto and Osaka, and urging the Christian feudal lords to renounce their faith. Ukon, refusing to renounce his faith, was deprived of his rank and his fiefdom was attacked.

After the death of Hideyoshi, the Tokugawa family took control of the whole country and established their shogunate government in Edo (present-day Tokyo). They continued to pursue a policy of prohibiting Christianity. The shogunate feared the influence of Ukon, and in 1614 exiled him to the Philippines along with more than 300 Christians.

On reaching Manila, they were given a national welcome, but before long Ukon fell gravely ill and died in Manila during the night of February 3, 1615 — 44 days after his arrival there.

He was given a national funeral and was buried in the Philippines.

Immediately after his death his reputation as a martyr spread, and the investigation for his canonization began. At that time it was difficult to collect data in Japan, so the process could not be continued.

Now, however, the Church of Japan, in cooperation with the Church of the Philippines, is actively pursuing the cause of Ukon’s canonization.

UKON’S MESSAGE FOR US TODAY: THE PRINCIPLE OF CHOICE

Ukon was often placed in situations where important and decisive life choices had to be made which could not be avoided by a military commander belonging to the powerful ruling class. He stood at the very forefront where the values of God and that of the world come into greatest conflict. Decisive choices that cannot be avoided have to be made by any Christian leader in whatever age.

Ukon held clear principles for choosing the path that would lead to God and would lead to correct decisions. To answer to the love of God who, in order to love without limit and to save we sinners, took on himself mankind’s destiny to die—this was Ukon’s basic principle. That was the only thing he kept in view. This alone was the standard of the major decisions he made throughout his life. There was no room for compromise. What moved Ukon was the belief that remaining in the love of God was the road to human happiness.

In 1578, Araki Murashige, Ukon’s liege lord, turned against Nobunaga, to whom he was allied. Murashige urged his powerful subject Ukon to also revolt.

Ukon’s dilemma was severe. If he adhered to Murashige, the Church and the missionaries would be persecuted by Nobunaga. If he adhered to Nobunaga, the lives of his son and his younger sister, whom Murashige was holding as hostages, would be endangered. He was forced into conflict with his father Dario, who supported Murashige.

As a result of his prayer in the face of this suffering, Ukon made a decision to pay a visit to Nobunaga. Murashige, realizing his own defeat, returned the hostages to Ukon.

The greatest decision of Ukon’s life was in 1587. The most powerful leader of the time, Hideyoshi, declared the prohibition of Christianity. At the same time he gave strict orders to Ukon to abandon Christianity, and if he would not do so, his fiefdom would be confiscated and he would be banished. If he simply formally renounced the Church, he would receive further advancement. If he did not renounce his faith, he would lead a pitiable life of destitution.

To the messenger who brought this order from Hideyoshi, Ukon said he would visit Hideyoshi unarmed and convey his thoughts, adding that if he should be killed, he would be quite satisfied. Ukon was banished and led a wanderer’s life.

When Tokugawa Ieyasu came to power after Hideyoshi’s death, he continued to enforce the prohibition of Christianity and ordered Ukon, who still retained his faith, to leave the country.

He departed from Nagasaki on November 8, 1614. On arriving in Manila, he fell critically ill and during the night of February 3, 1615, was called to the Lord. Not only banished but also dying in exile, Ukon gained high honor in Manila as a martyr immediately after his death. At present, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Japan is petitioning for his canonization as a martyr.

DOWNWARD MOBILITY

During the 16th and 17th centuries, when Ukon lived, Japan was still violently agitated by civil wars. It was a time when powerful go-getters maneuvered to attain wealth, power, and fame. It was a time when society sought upward mobility. Ukon was the type of person blessed with the resourcefulness to seek a better life. However, Ukon was not deceived by visible and attainable fortune and continued to keep his pure vision set on the invisible and true, even if distant, happiness. Ukon was not mistaken regarding the road to be chosen. It was the road of downward mobility as a disciple of the Lord. In that warring age when everyone strove to climb upward, Ukon chose the path of abasement. Through his choices at each of life’s junctures, Ukon became visibly poorer. However, Ukon’s heart became richer.

The downward path that Ukon took was the way of Christ, the way of the cross. On this downward path, one meets God, who is waiting there. Firm hope is found there, because as Christians we know that God lowered himself and chose to become poor for the salvation of mankind. Ukon ascended with Jesus and was received into the presence of the Father.

Those who live close to the ground know that God is near. Ukon teaches us that. In the present age, when we are urged to make choices from among various values that promise happiness, people who adhere to Jesus can learn from the life of Ukon to follow the Lord directly, without deviation or error.#

From the Committee for Promoting Canonization
Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Japan

Celebrating the Life and Martyrdom of ‘Blessed Takayama of Manila’ on 406th Anniversary

Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo, Apostolic Administrator of Archdiocese of Manila, celebrating Takayama Memorial Mass on Feb. 3, 2021. (Photo: Iñigo Maravilla)

►HOMILY OF THE MOST REV. BRODERICK PABILLO, D.D. APOSTOLIC ADMINISTRATOR – ARCHDIOCESE OF MANILA ON FEAST DAY AND 406TH DEATH ANNIVERSARY OF BLESSED JUSTO UKON TAKAYAMA, FEB. 3, 2021, SANTISIMO ROSARIO PARISH, UNIVERSITY OF SANTO TOMAS, MANILA

►There are some aspects of our readings that apply very clearly to our Blessed Justo Takayama Ukon.

In our Gospel, Jesus went to his native place, Nazareth. And the people of Nazareth recognized that he was extraordinary, where did her get all this? They recognized his wisdom. They recognized his mighty deeds – the cures that he did all over the place. And yet they took offense at him. They were not able to accept him. In fact their familiarity with him – they knew his family, they knew his relatives – prevented them from seeing him as sent by the Lord. Really what the prophet said, “that the prophet is not accepted in his own household, in his own family, in his own place” – was true of Jesus. And also true of our Takayama Ukon.

He was not accepted by his own people. By his own leaders. This is why he was exiled. He was too high in society to be executed. So, they just sent him into exile. They could not keep him in his place. He was an irritant for them, because of his faith, because of his attitude. They recognized that he was different. That he was special. And they could not accept him. So, although our Blessed (Takayama Ukon) has not literally shed his blood, yet he was considered as a martyr. Because his suffering and his death was caused by the rejection of the people. Rejection not only of him, but rejection of the faith that he carries, and the faith that tries to live to the full.

Also in our First Reading, although the writer of the letters said to the Christians – to the Jewish Christians – who were being persecuted. That your struggle has not led to the shedding of blood. But remember, that many of the Christians at that time has already shed their blood because of the faith. So, the writer told the Jewish Christians to hang on and to see their own tribulations as discipline of the Lord. And the Lord disciplines them because they are his children. Because He loves them.

And He compares the discipline and the trials that we receive to the discipline that parents give to their children. And they do so, because they want them to be better. They want them to grow up well, so He disciplines them. And this also how we should look at the trials that we are undergoing – it’s a sign of God’s love. It’s not absence of the care of God. It’s a sign of God’s love. And that might have been the attitude of Blessed Takayama Ukon at the disciplines, at the trials that he had to undergo in his society. Because of his commitment to the faith. And he was faithful as the letter to the Hebrews were telling the Christians to be faithful in spite of these trials. And because of these trials, Blessed Justo was faithful up to the end. He was not resentful. He accepted the faith. That’s why the Spanish and the Filipinos when they received him here, they were surprised at his peace of mind, at his calmness, in spite of what happened to him that he being exiled here. So, the letter to the Jewish Christians, “strengthen your drooping hands and your weak knees so that they may be healed and not dislocated.” And at another point, the letter told the Jewish Christians – “strive for peace with everyone, and for that holiness without which no one will see the Lord.”

Celebrated under pandemic restrictions, the Memorial Mass for Blessed Takayana was officiated by Manila Bishop Broderick Pabillo at the UST Chapel. (Photo: Raul Roque)

How true this is also of Blessed Justo, in spite if the persecution that he suffered, he tried to make peace. He made a lot of concessions, even his own dignity, even his own possessions, just to have peace. And in all this, he really tried to be holy. So, it is no wonder that he is now elevated to the altar, because of his effort to be holy. Holiness that he was able to achieve because of his fidelity to Christ. And it was that fidelity was somehow put to the test for decades – several decades – four decades of his holiness in spite of the trials that he was undergoing. So it is but right, that we remember him today, his feast day, and we ask for his help that we too may have that kind of fidelity in front of difficulties. And during this pandemic, we all are experiencing difficulties. In fact, many of us would want to be here in order to celebrate this Mass, but we would just be contented with the online reception of the Holy Mass. And that’s already a kind of a frustration that we feel. And there are still so many activities, and good activities that we could not do because of the limitations that this Corona virus is giving to us. Let us offer this to the Lord. And this can be also a way for our own sanctification.

May the example of our saint strengthen us. May his prayers also help us, that we may follow in that striving towards holiness — without which we cannot see the Lord.#

Transcribed by Raul Roque
Auxiliary, Missionary Disciples for the New Evangelization