►The celebrated “Kirishitan Samurai” – known to us as Lord Justo Ukon Takayama (1552-1615) – was known in Europe as “Dom Justo Ucondono.” This in how Pope Sixtus V (r. 1585 – Aug. 27, 1590) addressed Ukon when he wrote him a “Papal Breve” with his Apostolic Blessings on April 24, 1590 when he learned that Ukon had been stripped of his feudal domain in Akashi (in Hyogo Prefecture) for refusing to abjure his Christian faith.
For a year after his expulsion, Ukon lived as a “ronin” – a masterless samurai.
Even before his domestic exile in Kanazawa in Ishikawa Prefecture, where he served as a guest general of the Maeda clan (whose domain encompassed Etchū, Kaga, and Noto provinces), Takayama was already celebrated as a Japanese artist.
Ukon and 600 other masterless Christian samurai served the Maeda from 1587 till 1614 when he was deported to the Philippines.
Renowned Tea Master
►Takayama Ukon was a prized pupil of Sen no Rikyū (1522-1591), who is considered the historical figure with the most profound influence on the development of “Chanoyu.”
Ukon was one of the celebrated “Rikyushichitetsu” (Rikyu’s Seven), who was credited with refining the tea ceremony into a serene celebration, with ritual movements “almost like a Mass.”
The spirit of the art of tea – characterized by the qualities of harmony, reverence, purity, and tranquility — found in Ukon its Christian transfiguration. As a tea-master, Ukon was known as “Minami-no-Bô Takayama Hida no-kami.”
Takayama Ukon – Food Trendsetter in Kanazawa
►Some Japanese food historians credit Takayama Ukon with concocting the recipe for “Jibuni” [治部煮] – go ahead, Google it! – the most well-known winter dish of the Kaga region, consisting of duck simmered in a flavorful broth and accompanied with vegetables.
Some say the dish was influenced by the Portuguese. The only Portuguese in the Hokuriku region were the Jesuit missionaries who were Ukon’s friends.
►A multi-faceted artist, Takayama Ukon mastered the various forms of Japanese poetry – ◘ the song (“waka”), ◘ the linked verse (“renga”), and ◘ the epigram (“haiku”). — Heinrich Dumoulin, 2005.
We have yet to get hold of curated samples of Ukon’s poetic expressions.#
►In 2003, the Tokyo Opera Association and the University of Santo Tomas (UST) Conservatory of Music co-produced an opera about Lord Takayama – “The Blessed Lord – Ukon Takayama” — to mark the 450th anniversary of the daimyo’s birth, along with the centennial of Japanese migration to the Philippines when Japan mobilized road construction laborers to work on the scenic Kennon Road linking Baguio City in northern Luzon with the lowlands in the first major wave of Japanese immigration to the Philippines.
Based on “Takayama Ukon,” a novel written by Otohiko Kaga, the two-act opera opens with the tale of Takayama’s banishment to Manila in November 1614, along with his family and followers. The story tells of Lord Ukon Takayama, former samurai-general and daimyo who, turning into a committed follower of Christ, gives up power, fame and fortune for his faith.
Exiled for His Faith
As Takayama defies traditional authority, he is exiled to far-off Manila where he continues his apostolate and evangelical mission but dies 40 days – (“40” days in the Biblical sense, but actually 44 days) — after his arrival. Filipino-Japanese relations are further strengthened with Takayama on his death bed, admonishing his countrymen “to live in harmony with Filipinos.”
The opera was the brainchild of Edward Tuazon Ishita (b. 1947), a Japanese-Filipino from Osaka who headed the Tokyo Opera Association. The Lord Takayama opera listed Dean Raul Sunico, Fr. Manuel P. Maramba, OSB, and Edward T. Ishita as executive producers. It showcased a variety of talents, featuring cast members from Japan and the Philippines. The libretto was primarily written in English, with some parts in Tagalog, Japanese and Spanish. The music was composed by Fr. Maramba.
The University of Santo Tomas contributed the services of the UST Symphony Orchestra, under the baton of Herminigildo Ranera, augmented by the Rondalla under James Peter Namit. The chorus consisted of the UST Liturgikon Vocal Ensemble under Eugene de los Santos.
Premiere in Tokyo
The opera had its premiere on July 25. 2003 in Tokyo, at the Tokyo Bunka Kaikan Hall, with former Prime Minister Tsutomu Hata leading the distinguished guests, and later in Takaoka, Kanazawa, Takatsuki and Osaka Cathedral. The Philippines presented the opera beginning August 25, 2003 in Davao and Cebu, with four performances in Manila. In all, the opera had 21 performances before audiences in both Japan and the Philippines. ◘
►After the Beatification of Blessed Justo Ukon Takayama (1552-1615) in Osaka on Feb. 7, 2017 – the Jesuit community at the Ateneo de Manila celebrated a Thanksgiving Mass at the chapel of the Loyola School of Theology on Saturday, March 18, 2017.
Very Rev. Fr. Antonio F. Moreno, then the Jesuit Father Provincial, officiated at the concelebrated Mass, along with Fr. James McTavish, provincial superior of Verbum Dei Missionaries, and Fr. Iwao “Wow” Daniel Ikegami, FMVD.
In the congregation were priests, scholastics, seminarians, lay and religious students, and Japanese nuns from various Metro-Manila congregations — and the former Jesuit Superior General in Rome, Fr. Adolfo Nicolas, who lived in retirement at the Ateneo.
Homily by Japanese Priest Born in Brazil
The homily was delivered by Fr. Iwao “Wow” Ikegami, a Brazilian-born Japanese who was ordained August 2015, sharing his journey to the priesthood and the relevance of Blessed Takayama Ukon to relations between the churches of Japan and the Philippines.
Blessed Takayama — A Jesuit “Cause”
►Among 86 Daimyo who converted to Christianity, Lord Takayama, as patron of Jesuit missions, used his resources to support the growth and expansion of the early church of Japan — building churches, chapels and seminaries for the Jesuit missionaries, who were the only Catholic religious congregation in Japan beginning 1549 till 1602 when Manila-based Spanish missionaries started arriving.
It was a Jesuit, Padre Pedro Morejon, who conducted a 30-day “Spiritual Exercises” for Lord Takayama — in preparation for martyrdom — before the exile ship left Nagasaki for Manila with 350 Japanese Christian deportees on Nov. 8, 1614.
It was this same Jesuit, Fr. Morejon — (Takayama’s father-confessor) — who wrote the petition of the Manila Archdiocese dated Oct. 5, 1630 — proposing to the Congregation for the Causes of Saints a Japanese Catholic — who died in Manila; under church rubric “where one dies, is where one is born to Heaven” — as the FIRST saint of the Philippine Church.
It was also a committee of Jesuit historians in Japan, headed by Sophia University’s Fr. Hubert Cieslik, SJ, who prepared in 1963 all the supporting documents for Takayama’s “Positio.”
First as Confessor — Then as Martyr
It was the Jesuit General Postulator, Fr. Paolo Molinari, SJ, who presented the original “Postio” enumerating the heroic virtues of a Confessor — “Servus Dei, Justus Takayama Ukon: Materia Praeparata Pro Propositione Super Virtutibus Servi Dei Justi Takayama Ukon” (Manila: Lord Takayama Jubilee Foundation, 1994) – which resulted in Takayama’s being recognized as a “Servant of God.”
It was another Jesuit General Postulator, Fr. Anton Witwer, SJ, who submitted the revised version for a Martyr – “Positio Super Martirio: Beatificationis Seu Declarationis Martyrii Servi Dei Iusti Takayama Ukon Viri Laici in Odium Fidei, Uti Fertur, Interfecti” (Rome: 2015).
Pope Francis Issues ‘Decree of Martyrdom’
It was another Jesuit, Pope Francis, who allowed the “switching” of the “Cause of Takayama” from Confessor (when Takayama earned the title “Servant of God” on June 8, 1994) to Martyr – by issuing a Decree of Martyrdom on Jan. 21, 2016, recognizing Takayama as a martyr — a “layperson … from Japan [who] died from the hatred of the Faith on Feb. 3, 1615 in Manila, Philippines.”
In an unusual development, the “Servant of God” Justo Ukon Takayama skipped the “Venerable” stage — and went directly to “Blessed.”
Takayama Conference Room
Rev. Fr. Jose V. C. Quilongquilong, SJ, President, Loyola House of Studies, shares that the Loyola School of Theology has honored Blessed Takayama by naming a conference room after him. The “Takayama Conference Room” is located in the Lucas-LST Wing.
Loyola School of Theology (LST) is one of the seven (7) English-speaking faculties of theology in the world administered by the Society of Jesus and is the only one in the Jesuit Conference of Asia Pacific. For School Year 2018-2019, the LST has 470 seminarians, priests, lay and religious students (283 Filipino and 187 international students) representing 63 religious congregations, 72 dioceses and 38 countries around the world.
Wanted: One Miracle from God Interceded by Blessed Takayama
Today, Takayama’s “Cause” is awaiting one validating miracle through the intercession of Blessed Takayama — a requirement to show that indeed Blessed Takayama dwells in the presence of God.
The final step is canonization – or inclusion in the Roman Catholic Church’s Canon of Saints, now numbering over 10,000 Saints.#
►In a Eucharistic Mass with Japanese Catholics in Kobe, Japan on Feb. 3, 2016, Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle said the Philippines, especially Manila, and Japan are linked through a “bridge of faith and martyrdom.”
Justo Ukon Takayama (1552-1615), Japan’s most illustrious Christian, died in Manila in 1615, while San Lorenzo Ruiz (1600-1637), a Filipino, was martyred in Nagasaki in 1637.
“Martyrdom is the deepest link between our two churches.” (Photo shows Cardinal Tagle distributing Communion beside statue of Blessed Justo Ukon Takayama.)
Cardinal Tagle Concelebrates Takayama Mass in Osaka
On Feb. 7, 2017, Cardinal Tagle concelebrated the Mass during the Beatification Ceremonies at the Osaka-jō Hall, Kyōbashi, Osaka (Japan), which was presided by Cardinal Angelo Amato, SDB, Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints (CCS), on Pope Francis’s behalf.◘
►If you can help it, do not pray the Rosary alone. (It’s easy for the mind to wander – if you pray alone.)
Pray “with two or three” of your family or friends. The Lord has promised: “For where two or three have gathered in My name, I am there in their midst.” (Matthew 18:20).
Basics of the Rosary
►The Rosary helps us keep in memory principal events in the history of our salvation.
As updated today – in Lord Justo Ukon Takayama’s time, the Rosary was simpler — there are 20 mysteries reflected upon in the Rosary, and these are divided into the ● five Joyful Mysteries (said on Monday and Saturday), the ● five Luminous Mysteries (said on Thursday), the ● five Sorrowful Mysteries (said on Tuesday and Friday), and the ● five Glorious Mysteries (said on Wednesday and Sunday). As an exception, the Joyful Mysteries are said on Sundays during Christmas, while the Sorrowful Mysteries are said on the Sundays of Lent.
The mysteries of the Rosary are based on the incidents in the life of Our Lord and His Mother that are celebrated in the Liturgy. There is a parallel between the main feasts honoring our Lord and his Mother in the liturgical year, and the 20 mysteries of the Rosary. Consequently, one who recites the 20 mysteries of the Rosary in one day reflects on the whole liturgical cycle that the Church commemorates during the course of each year.
It’s the Gospel compressed into the Rosary. The Catholic Church grants indulgences for the recitation of the Rosary.
Invite Your Patron Saint — or Blessed Takayama — to Pray with You
As a force multiplier, invite Blessed Justo Ukon Takayama — the Philippine Church’s third Blessed — to pray the Rosary with you. (Lord Takayama was the “Kirishitan Samurai” who was entrusted with safeguarding the image of Our Lady of the Rosary during the perilous exile-voyage from Nagasaki to Manila from Nov. 8 to Dec. 21, 1614.
‘La Japona’ — Enshrined at Santo Domingo Church since 1614
Today, the statue of “La Japona” is enshrined at the Santo Domingo Church in Quezon City.
Praying With the Support of the Entire Heavenly Court
This method of praying the Rosary is based on Our Lady’s promise that devotees of the Rosary will have for their intercessors the entire heavenly court.#
(Based on information posted by Ms Puchie Gan of “The Gathering of Filipino Groups and Communities” (GFGC), co-sponsors of the “Servants of Love” Benefit Concert)
►The “Servants of Love” (Lingkod ng Pag-ibig) Concert, which was held at the Shibuya Cultural Center / Owada (Sakura Hall) in Tokyo, Japan on Aug. 31, 2018, presented a raft of Tagalog hymns, among them the first Takayama Ukon Hymn, composed by Jay Gomez, JMM (HimigHeswita) artist, and sung by Rey Malipot, JMM artist.
►Ministries of Music have been an important feature of Eucharistic celebrations throughout the centuries. The Filipino hymn “Salamat sa Iyo” (Tanging Alay) was sung as the Offertory Hymn at the Beatification Rites of Blessed Takayama in Osaka on Feb. 7, 2017. The Tagalog hymn was selected as a nod to Takayama’s being “born to Heaven” in Manila, on account of his “death by martyrdom” in Intramuros in 1615.
►The ”Servants of Love” concert featured “PHILMISS,” an organization of priests, nuns and lay missionaries in the Kanto area. (The Kantō region [関東地方] includes the Greater Tokyo Area encompassing seven prefectures: Gunma, Tochigi, Ibaraki, Saitama, Tokyo, Chiba, and Kanagawa.)
Included in the concert are two recording artists from “Himig Heswita” — Rey Malipot and Jay Gomez. Rey is featured in the latest Himig Heswita album, “Nauna na Kitang Mahalin” and Jay Gome, flutist, in Vesper 7.
Jesuit Music Ministry (JMM)
►The Jesuit Music Ministry (JMM) is a producer and publisher of music for use in the liturgy of the Roman Catholic church. It was established in response to Vatican II’s “Sacrosanctum Concilium” which urged the entire congregation to actively participate in the liturgy that includes singing. JMM songs are now sung in churches not only in the Philippines but throughout the world.
By 1965, JMM began composing songs in the Filipino idiom. Many well-remembered compositions followed throughout the 70’s, resulting in what could be called “classics” of Filipino Liturgical Music: “Ama Namin (Our Father),” “Ang Puso Ko’y Nagpupuri (Magnificat)” and “Pananagutan.” 1981 saw the release of “Himig Heswita,” an album celebrating 400 years since the arrival of the Jesuits in the Philippines. JMM has built on this splendid track record since then.
🎼 🎶 🎵 🎶 ‘TO THE END’ 🎶 🎵
(Takayama Ukon Hymn)
Words and Music by Jay Gomez
How do we make the choice
As you have made to hear His voice?
What did you see? What did you know?
All that you had, for Him, you let go.
Takayama Ukon, we will follow your lead.
Together as one, His call, we shall heed.
The life that you lived will show us the way.
Walk us through this journey.
We will not astray.
You honored and loved the Father
In the midst of martial power.
You stood by the church, held on to His word,
Withstanding the draw of this blinding world
Takayama Ukon, your faith is esteemed
A reminder that we, through CHRIST, are redeemed.
Takayama Ukon, you did not bend.
While there’s fear and doubt in others,
You believed in Him to the end.
Isa kang sorpresa, mula bansang Hapon. Sana’y nagkapiling ng mas mahabang panahon. Di man nagtagal ang naging samahan Minahal ka ng bayan, ang Perlas Ng Silangan!#
Photos from the Wall of Jan Michael Acaylar and Fumi Terada:
►The last piece of the concert — “Ang Puso Ko’y Nagpupuri” (composed by Eduardo Hontiveros, SJ).
First Ever Concert Rendition of Takayama Hymn
►Here is Rey Malipot, JMM artist singing “To The End” — Takayama Ukon Hymn.
Credits for a Successful Benefit Concert!
►Great appreciation to Maria Kasuya for directing the entire show and Puchie Gan for teaching the songs and choreography of the grand choir. 💓 💕!!!
►From Blessed Justo Takayama Ukon Canonization Movement to the Jesuit Music Ministry (JMM): Maraming Salamat! 🙏 💓 💕!!!
Compiled by Dr. Ernesto A. de Pedro
►Japanese secular portraits do not show Justo Ucondono (15521-1615) – or Justo Ukon Takayama as he is known today — wearing the Holy Rosary. Lord Takayama was depicted — most famously in this portrait by Utagawa Yoshiiku (1833-1904) — as a fierce samurai, while many Western portraits show him “armed with the Holy Rosary.”
The Holy Rosary Was Introduced in 1214
According to Dominican tradition, the Rosary was given to Saint Dominic of Caleruega (1170-1221) in an apparition by the Blessed Virgin Mary in the year 1214 in the church of Prouille, France — the “cradle of the Dominicans” — where the first Dominican house was founded in late 1206 or early 1207. This Marian apparition received the title of “Our Lady of the Rosary.”
When the Order of Preachers (OP) was approved by Pope Honorius III via the Papal bull “Religiosam Vitam” on Dec. 22, 1216, the daily recitation of the Rosary soon spread among Catholics reached by Dominican missionaries in every corner of Christendom.
Prayer beads were in use in older religions – Buddhism for instance — for counting mantras since the 5th century BCE. In the case of Catholics, the beads are used to keep track of the number of “Hail Marys” in each decade.
What Does the Holy Rosary Mean for Catholics?
►For those of us who have grown up with the Rosary, Venerable Fulton Sheen expresses best what we believe about the Rosary. Archbishop Sheen was known for his preaching on television and radio on Catholic matters. The cause for his canonization as a saint was officially opened in 2002.
►As Jesuit missionaries in Japan’s Early Church were so thinly spread throughout the Japanese archipelago, they were not always available to celebrate a Eucharistic Mass at Takatsuki Castle. Lord Justo Ukon Takayama and his family used the daily recitation of the Holy Rosary to keep their fervor together.
Ukon understood that the Rosary was indeed a powerful weapon against evil — but that power comes from praying it, not wearing it. The physical beads on a string are only a device to help one keep count. Some people wear the Rosary as a symbol of their faith. The Rosary is not a tool for evangelization — but a tool for prayer.
‘Armed’ with the Holy Rosary
Throughout ● Ukon’s 12-year rule at Takatsuki Castle, his first feudal domain at age 21, ● his two-year rule in Akashi (in Hyogo Prefecture), and ● his 27 years of domestic exile in Kanazawa and Noto Peninsula, the Holy Rosary was the glue that kept the Takayama family together – as Jesuit missionaries were not always available every day.
When Ukon was out on military campaigns, his father, Dom Darius Takayama — Takayama Tomoteru (高山友照), 1531-1596 — led the recitation of the Rosary. When Dom Darius was absent, it was Doña Justa Kuroda Takayama who led the prayers. The sons and daughter of Takayama would take turns too. In their turn, the five Takayama grandsons did the honors.
The iconography of Blessed Takayama includes many paintings and statues with the Rosary — either around his neck or in his hand. While the samurai sword was his trademark weapon, the Holy Rosary was his constant jewel – as can be seen in various representations of him.
◘ MANRESA MOSAIC — This mosaic in a nave of the Jesuit church in Manresa, Spain depicted six Catholic noblemen who were all products of the Jesuits’ famed “Spiritual Exercises,” among them Lord Justo Ukon Takayama – shown holding a Rosary.
The six “Catholic princes” in the mosaic are: ● the Bourbon king of France, Louis XIII; ● Don Alvaro de Cordoba, a Spanish grandee whose public life was much influenced by the Jesuit manual; ● the Hapsburg prince, Don Juan de Austria (1545-1578) — victor of the Battle of Lepanto (1571); ● Justus Ukon Takayama (identified in the mosaic as “Justo Ucandono”); ● Marques de Villapuente, renowned for his charities, and ● Don Lupercio de Arbizu, the Aragon nobleman who was persuaded by the Jesuits to build Manresa into a city.
◘ MARBLE STATUE of the “Kirishitan Samurai” Ukon Takayama — at the plaza fronting the Takatsuki Catholic Church — with a Rosary.
◘ PORTRAIT of Ukon Takayama in Osaka’s Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary — in the heart of Tamatsukuri, Osaka– with a Rosary.
◘ ANOTHER PORTRAIT of Ukon Takayama in the Osaka Cathedral — with a Rosary.
◘ BOOK COVER for a children’s book — with a Rosary.
◘ STAINED GLASS — at Shodoshima Catholic Church. Shōdoshima (小豆島) is an island located in the Inland Sea of Japan.
◘ NEW IMAGE used in an “estampita” (prayer card) — with a Rosary.
Preparation for Martyrdom
During the trek from Kanazawa to Nagasaki, the Rosary was recited, not just daily, but as a frequent prayer exercise. It was a conscious preparation for martyrdom — whether at the hands of minions of the Tokugawa Shogunate, or from the perils of the exile-voyage to Manila.
During the Takayama’s 45-day lay-over in Nagasaki – in quarters in Upper Nagasaki, in the so-called Tori-no-Hane Yashiki which local historians have not been able to locate till now — Takayama made a 30-day Ignatian “spiritual retreat” under the guidance of Fr. Pedro Morejon, SJ, chaplain of the “Beatas of Miyako (i.e. Kyoto)” — (Miyako no bikuni), the only religious women’s group in Japan’s Christian Century. The pioneering nuns were being exiled to Manila too – with Ukon’s exile group of 350 Japanese Christians.
A few days before their boat sailed south to Manila, Lord Takayama and his family could only watch helplessly and pray to Our Lord Jesus Christ to protect His Church and commend the Church of Japan to the protection of the Blessed Mother as the Nagasaki Bugyō, Hasegawa Fujihiro (1605–1614) effected the wholesale destruction of all 12 churches of Nagasaki in October 1614.
Takayama’s Exile Boat — a Chinese Ocean-Going Junk
By Oct. 27, 1614, all Christian deportees were ordered by Nagasaki Bugyō Hasegawa to proceed to Fukuda (福田村 Fukuda-mura), at the mouth of Nagasaki Bay, to board their exile ships — either to Manila or Macau.
But the ocean-going Chinese junk bound for Manila, captained by the Portuguese mariner, Esteban d’Acosta, was still loading provisions and not ready to sail just yet. This junk had been contracted to carry Lord Justo Ukon Takayama, Lord Juan Tocuan Naito, their families, other nobles from Christian daimyo families, the nuns of the Kyoto-based “Miyako no bikuni,” the eight priests and 15 brothers of the Society of Jesus (SJ), as well priests from the three mendicant orders from Manila: the Dominicans, Franciscans, and Augustinians — plus some 100 Japanese catechists (“dojuku”). In all, some 350 Christian exiles.
With foresight, the Dominicans had rescued the Marian icon “Our Lady of the Holy Rosary” from the Santo Domingo Church before the church’s destruction. As they were going to take turns sleeping on crates on the open deck, the Dominicans implored Lord Takayama, who had contracted a large cabin for his extended family, to keep the Marian image in his safe-keeping.
A Christian knight, devoted all his life to the Holy Rosary, being asked to safeguard “Our Lady of the Holy Rosary”? Ukon lived for that. It was Ukon’s great honor and privilege to serve Our Lady. Throughout the voyage, the first ever ocean voyage for the Takayama, his family prayed the Holy Rosary together — this time, in front of “La Japona” — taking turns to lead.
‘Our Lady of Good Counsel’ — Enshrined in St. Augustine Church, One of 12 Churches in Nagasaki
The Augustinians had enshrined a statue of Our Lady of Good Counsel in St. Augustine Church in 1612. Now, only two years later, the church was being demolished. They scrambled to save the Marian icon, which had originated from Manila.
The Augustinian devotion to “Madonna del Buon Consiglio” (Our Lady of Good Counsel) dated back to 1356. (Statues based on this famous Marian image were sculpted for installation in Augustinian churches worlwide.)
But the Augustinians did not bring on board the statue of “Our Lady of Good Counsel” (“Mater boni consilii”) with them — as the Dominicans has done with “La Japona.” Perhaps they had already made alternative arrangements for the sake-keeping of the Augustinian Marian icon.
Was The Augustinian Statue of ‘Our Lady of Good Counsel’ Off-Floated to Luzon?
Could the “La Virgen Milagrosa de Badoc” found in a crate floating off the coast of Badoc, Ilocos Norte in 1620 be the statue of “Our Lady of Good Counsel” enshrined in Nagasaki in 1612-1614? The statue, based on the Marian portrait that has been revered by Augustinians since 1356, is now dressed in new raiment (Philippine iconographic style) and bedecked with jewels presented by Ilocano devotees across four centuries. The studies go on.
The Rosary — in Ukon’s Hands
Weather permitting, even with so many missionaries on board, there was only a single Mass on the topdeck daily. It was the Rosary the rest of the time.
During the 43-day voyage (instead of the normal 20 days), a fight erupted on deck, when a crewman stabbed a Japanese Christian for some unstated reason. As the ship’s crew prepared to face off with the Christian passengers, Lord Takayama stepped out of his cabin to break up the fight – not with a samurai sword on hand – but with a Rosary in his right hand. They had interrupted his prayers. The combatants immediately broke off.
Japanese ‘Refugees and Migrants’ in Catholic Manila
Finally, during his 44-day sojourn in Manila, Dom Justo Ucondono (aka Lord Justo Ukon Takayama) felt free at last to exercise his Catholic religion, with any of six Churches in Intramuros to visit on any given day. Striving to be a channel of God’s grace in his new country, he frequently visited the “nihon-machi” (Japantown) in Dilao to evangelize the Japanese expatriates there — traders, “wako,” castaways, mercenaries, fugitives or seafarers stranded in Manila. He brought the converts to the Paco Catholic Church (est. 1580) for Baptism — with individual Takayama grandsons standing as “ninong” (sponsor).
At the Jesuit guesthouse “Casa San Miguel” located in the PLM/Jesuit Compound in Intramuros, Manila — near midnight on Tuesday, Feb. 3, 1615 – with his father-confessor, Fr. Pedro Morejon, SJ, beside him, and surrounded by his family praying the Rosary — Ukon commended his spirit to the Lord — and implored Mother Mary to “pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death.”#
►Ordained at San Jose Seminary (inaugurated 1601) at the PLM/Jesuit Compound in Intramuros, Manila, this “Josefino” martyr was beatified in Nagasaki on Nov. 24, 2008.
Blessed Diego Yuki Ryosetsu (1574-Feb. 16, 1636) arrived in Manila with Lord Justo Ukon Takayama’s exile group of 350 Japanese Christian deportees on Dec. 21, 1614. He completed his seminary studies at the San Jose Seminary (now relocated in Loyola Heights, Quezon City), where he was ordained. Knowing full well the risks of martyrdom, he returned to Japan to profess his ministry.
Diego Yuki Ryosetsu was born of samurai stock in Tokushima on the island of Shikoku: his father was a younger brother of Shogun Ashikaga Yoshiaki, who had preceded Oda Nobunaga as head of the realm. He enrolled in the Jesuit seminary upon reaching school age. In 1597, after ten years of study there, he was received into the Society of Jesus.
From 1601 to 1604 he did theological studies in Macao, but was not ordained a priest.
After his return to Japan, he was sent to evangelize in the central provinces of Japan, where he proved to be a very capable and successful missionary. He even traveled as far as Shikoku, where he had the pleasure of preaching to his Ashikaga relatives and even baptizing several of them. In 1612, he moved to Nagasaki to prepare for ordination, but Bishop P. Martinez who was to have ordained him fell ill and died.
Expulsion of All Missionaries and Principal Catholics
In 1614, Tokugawa Ieyasu, the first of the Tokugawa Shoguns, ordered all missionaries to leave Japan. At the same time he ordered the “Kirishitan Samurai” Justo Ukon Takayama to go into exile in Manila. Yuki decided to go with him to Manila, and one year later he was ordained a priest in the Philippines.
Yuki returned secretly to Japan in 1616, and was sent to minister to the Christians in central Japan. For 20 years he continued to do pastoral ministry all through the central provinces.
In the end, Shogun Hidetada’s persecution of the missionaries in central Japan was so effective that Yuki was the only priest remaining to minister to the Christians. (Everywhere he went he was accompanied by his faithful catechist Soan.)
Captured — After 20 Years on the Run
In 1636, Ryosetsu too was captured, in the mountains of Shikoku.
Sent to Osaka for interrogation, he was asked to give the names of those who had given him lodging. But his persistent answer was that no one had given him lodging, that he had lived in the hills and the fields, warding off starvation by eating only what nature provided him.
Seeing the weak and emaciated condition of the old man, his interrogators believed him. Thus, he alone was condemned to death; none of those who had helped him were made to share his fate.
Death ‘in the Pit’
On February 26, Yuki was condemned to die. He endured torture called “the pit.” Bound tightly with ropes, his body was hung upside down into a hole filled with excrement, until he died of suffocation.
He was 61 years old. His faithful catechist, Soan, who had been beside him all through his travels, was his companion to the end and died at his side.
At Yuki’s beatification, Tokyo Cardinal Seiichi Shirayanagi said: “The persecution in Japan lasted long and its cruelty is unparalleled… The martyrs make us think about fundamental issues, such as the meaning of life and its pains.”
In 2018, the Church of Japan has in fact 42 Saints and 394 Blessed — all martyrs. All lost their lives in Japan – with the lone exception of Blessed Justo Ukon Talayama, who was “martyred” in Manila on Feb. 3, 1615. “These martyrs bless the Japanese Church with their splendid witness,” said Cardinal Angelp Amato, SDB, Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints (CCS) when he presided at the Beatification Ceremony of Blessed Takayama, Japan’s 436th vererated Martyr, on Feb. 7, 2017.#
Compiled by Dr. Ernesto A. de Pedro
►John Andrew Sustaita — “The Art Guy” – from Grapevine, Texas, is not yet a Michaelangelo – but, for devotees of Blessed Justo Takayama — close!
Working for an art shop called “Real Catholic Art,” which creates artwork for subjects such as our Lady of Guadalupe, St. Maximillian Kolbe, St. Patrick, St. Pope John Paul II, St. Charbel and the Children of Fatima, Sustaita wanted to paint a portrait of Blessed Takayama, but did not know how to tackle his subject. Sustaita proceeded to Japan for an immersion trip to learn and appreciate the culture of the samurai, and the singular relevance of Ukon Takayama who is a venerated exponent of the Martyr Church of Japan.
Relying on a network of friends and relatives, he imbibed the essence of Japanese civilization in the Osaka region — where Ukon Takayama became a “Daimyo” (feudal governor).
When he became lord of Takatsuki Castle (at age 21), Ukon, who was baptized at 12, considered it his obligation to spread his faith in Christianity, and proselytized to many Daimyo close to him, among them Kuroda Kanbei and Gamo Ujisato. The unwavering faith that Takayama Ukon fostered penetrated deep into people’s hearts.
But Japan’s Shinto/Buddhist rulers were wary of faith in a foreign religion. After Toyotomi Hideyoshi’s 1587 order to expel missionaries from Japan, Takayama Ukon was stripped of his fief in Akashi. He found refuge as a “guest general” (“Kyakusho”) under the Maeda family, who were lords of the Kanazawa Domain (金沢藩 Kanazawa han), covering most of Kaga Province. Etchū Provinces and all of Noto Province (modern-day Ishikawa and Toyama Prefectures), in the Hokuriku region of Japan.
However, with the Tokugawa Shogunate’s 1614 general prohibition on Christianity, he was forced to leave Japan, with seven members of his family, and a majority of foreign and Japanese missionaries — finding refuge in Manila in the Philippines, where he died on Feb. 3, 1615.
Sustaita also visited Fushimi, Kyoto, which is not usually seen as a place connected with Takayama Ukon.
Fushimi was a center of politics from Hideyoshi’s era to that of the third Tokugawa shogun, considered to be a politically important site as a sort of “capital,” and the castle town of Fushimi was filled with mansions built by the lords of Japan to show their submission to the Shogun.
Ukon’s footprints are definitely imprinted on the soil of Fushimi as he was involved in the establishment of the Fushimi Jesuit Church (1604-1614). Gekkeikan Brewery, which acquired one of Sustaita’s Takayama portraits, now owns the land.
After completing the original which was to be presented to the Vatican, John Andrew Sustaita made four copies of the Blessed Justo Takayama painting, which have found homes at:
◘ The Takatsuki Museum in Osaka,
◘ The Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Tamatsukuri Church) in Osaka,
◘ Gekkeikan Brewery (a brewery with ties to Ukon) and
◘ The Church of Our Lady of Guadalupe, in Hirakata, Osaka Prefecture.
Destination: The Vatican
From his Rome base at a convent of The Oblate Sisters of St. Joseph Oblates (where two of Sustaita’s cousins are nuns), Sustaita bided his time until he received an invitation to the Vatican.
Sustaita’s iconic portrait of Blessed Takayama has been presented to the Vatican.
Since the recognition of Justo Takayama as a “Servant of God” by the Congregation for the Causes of Saints (CCS) in 1995, there has been a number of artwork about the “Samurai of Christ” Ukon Takayama submitted to the Vatican’s gallery of saints. Many of these can be seen at Google.com/images or at Pinterest.com. Sustaita’s portrait of Blessed Takayama is now part of the art collection at the Vatican — where other representations of Blessed Takayama will be added as devotion grows.#