For Archives: Osaka Cardinal Maeda’s Homily at Manila Cathedral (Dec. 8, 2018)

Manila Cathedral-Basilica — photographed on Dec. 8, 2018 — as the Papal Legate, Osaka Cardinal Thomas Aquinas Manyo Maeda, arrived to concelebrate the 60th Jubilee Mass (Credit: Lorenzo Atienza)

►The Manila Archdiocese spread out the welcome red carpet — for Japan’s lone Cardinal, appointed by Pope Francis to represent him at this milestone event.

Osaka Cardinal Maeda sharing his homily (in Japanese) at the Manila Cathedral (Dec. 8, 2018) — translated into English by Fr. Eric de Guzman, a Nihongo-speaking Filipino priest ordained in Osaka Archdiocese

►During the Mass for the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception and 60th Anniversary of the postwar Manila Cathedral, His Eminence Thomas Aquinas Manyo Cardinal Maeda, Archbishop of Osaka, Envoy of His Holiness Pope Francis, delivered his homily in Japanese – which was rendered into English by Fr. Eric de Guzman, a Nihongo-fluent Filipino priest from the Osaka Archdiocese.

►“I would like to greet first His Eminence Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle — and all the clergy and all the faithful here in Manila Cathedral. Congratulations and Happy Feast day of the Immaculate Conception of Mary. And congratulations for the 60th Anniversary of the reconstruction and consecration of the post-war Manila Cathedral.

I have the great honor of being invited as the Special Envoy of His Holiness Pope Francis to celebrate with all of you this momentous and very solemn event, and I know that it was made possible through the recommendation of His Eminence Cardinal Tagle and once more I am very thankful for that.”

Both Manila and Osaka Cathedrals Are Dedicated to Immaculate Conception

►“And I see that there is a very special connection between Manila Cathedral and our Cathedral in Osaka — the one in Tamatsukuri, Osaka — because both Cathedrals are dedicated to the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

And to cherish this very special connection between the two Cathedrals, I created a haiku and it reads as follows:

A Haiku to celebrate the Immaculate Conception of Mary — to which both the Manila and Osaka Cathedrals are dedicated

① 無原罪

Seibo kana.]

‘Conceived without sin,
Manila, and Osaka,
Oh Mother Mary.’”

►“And I see that the Immaculate Conception of our Blessed Virgin Mary is not only a relationship in between two Cathedrals but in actuality, it is a necessary condition for Mary to become the mother of our Lord Jesus Christ. Mary to become the tabernacle of our Lord Jesus Christ must be preserved from all sin.

And it is as we see in the First Reading, our first parents Adam and Eve committed the first sin, and after that, Man committed all other forms of sin and became a very sinful race. However, God did not forsake us for this miserable condition, indeed God protected us and He made sure that where there is sin, there will be more and more outpouring of graces.

And we have our Blessed Virgin Mary — the very first person to have a foretaste of the salvation that the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ is offering all of us mankind.”

►“And this abundance of grace from God where sin has been committed can be also seen through the very long history the over 400 year history of the Archdiocese of Manila and the long history of the Manila Cathedral — having many times razed to rubble by different disasters and war, but no matter what travails Manila Cathedral had undergone, the faithful had always been very ready to rebuild it from the rubble. And as many times as the Manila Cathedral has been rebuilt from the rubble, the more beautiful that it has become. This is another proof that God indeed showers us with many blessings even though we are sinful.”

►“And Japan also has shared in a little dark history when unfortunately, it was on the same day — Dec. 8, 1940 — that Japan started participating in the Second World War. However, we believe that it is through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary that although the Japanese people did something wrong in participating in the war, it is also the same Blessed Virgin Mary’s Solemnity — on Aug. 15, 1945 — when World War II ended, reminding everyone of us Japanese about the evils of war, and it made us decide to never again participate in a world war like what we did before.”

The Takayama Connection

►“And then there is another connection between Osaka and Manila that I remember: through the Blessed Justo Takayama Ukon. It was in 2015 when we celebrated the 400 years of the death of the Blessed Takayama Ukon [1552-1615] that His Eminence Cardinal Tagle attended our Mass in Kobe and after two years we were fortunate to have the beatification of Blessed Justo Takayama Ukon as a martyr — held in Osaka.

Manila Cardinal Tagle, distributing Communion at 400th Anniversary Mass of the “Servant of God,” Justo Ukon Takayama, in Kobe,  Japan

So, as a matter of fact, the memorial of the Blessed Justo Takayama Ukon is celebrated every third of February. In Japan we also celebrate a festival on the third of February that signifies the end of winter and during that time, we always say, ‘Out with the bad spirits, and In with the blessing.’”

►“So I created another haiku and it reads as follows:

Calligraphy by Cardinal Thomas Aquinas Manyo Maeda


[Ukon ki ya
Fuku musubi.]

‘Passing of Ukon
The Philippines and Japan
Bound by good fortune.’

As the third of February is the memorial of Justo Takayama Ukon and in Japan, it is also our festival signifying the end of winter — we invoke Takayama Ukon as a symbol of evangelization — which promotes forgiveness, reconciliation with God and peace among all mankind.”

►“And I find it also a very big grace and blessing from God that we have many connections, we have many relations between Osaka and Manila and also between Japan and Philippines – which have been strengthened by the blood or our martyrs, shed both in Japan and in the Philippines.

Osaka Cardinal Thomas Aquinas Manyo Maeda, invoking Blessed Justo Ukon Takayama (1552-1615) as the symbol of the shared Christian history of the Martyr Church of Japan and the Missionary Church of the Philippines

For example, Takayama Ukon was born and raised in Osaka but he ended his life here in Manila. On the other hand we also have San Lorenzo Ruiz [c1600-1639] who was born and raised in Manila but was martyred in Nagasaki in Japan — and also I would not like to forget to mention the six Franciscan Friars that first started their evangelization here in the Philippines and then they also went further to Japan to do their evangelization works there. However, they were caught and martyred in Nagasaki and they were also part of ‘The 26 Martyrs of Japan.’

Osaka Cardinal Thomas Aquinas Manyo Maeda and Manila Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle, concelebrating Mass at the 60th Jubilee celebration of the Manila Cathedral, Dec. 8, 2018

I would like to express that the martyrs are praying for us and they are giving us an example of what is most important — the most important thing is the gospel of the Lord. The gospel of the Lord gives us forgiveness and reconciliation with one another, and from now on I would like to see stronger and more ties between Japan and the Philippines through the guidance of His Eminence Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle and yours truly — and I hope and I pray for each and every one, for all the faithful of Japan and the Philippines to further strengthen our ties and further strengthen our faith in our Lord.” (RCAM-AOC)#

Posted by Dr. Ernesto A. de Pedro
Takayama Trustee

3 Religious Icons Escape Destruction of Nagasaki Churches in 1614

►All three statues have been enshrined in Philippine churches — for the past 400 years!

The anti-Christian persecutions in Japan were the most systematic and most sustained in the history of the Catholic Church – during the Tokugawa Shogunate (1603-1867).

►On Jan. 27, 1614, the Tokugawa Shogun ordered the expulsion of the all Christian missionaries and the destruction of the churches.

Most Catholic daimyo apostatized, and forced their subjects to do so, although a few would not renounce the religion and were deported from the country — as in the case of Lord Justo Ukon Takayama (高山右近, 1552-1615) and Lord Joan Tadatoshi Naitō (内藤 如安, died 1626). A brutal campaign of persecution followed, with thousands across Kyushu and other parts of Japan killed, tortured, or forced to renounce their religion.

Missionaries who remained and went into hiding, or who secretly entered Japan, continued to minister all over the country, from Hokkaido to Kyushu. This continued until 1637 for the Dominicans and the Augustinians, around 1640 for the Franciscans, and around 1644 for the Jesuits.

►1614 – the year Lord Justo Ukon Takayama led the first boatload of 350 asylum-seekers to Manila – was very grim for Christians in Japan. The Tokugawa Shogun had decreed that all Daimyos renounce their adherence to the Christian religion, the destruction of all Christian places of worship, and the expulsion of all Christian missionaries, foreign or Japan-born.

The tortures were inventive. Some Christians were branded with hot irons, dipped repeatedly in boiling water and crucified. Believers were also straddled with straw coats made of grass then set on fire. 

The total eradication of the “evil foreign religion” was the goal.

Shogun Decrees Destruction of All Churches in Nagasaki

All churches were destroyed – burned, dismantled, or re-purposed.

►With the evangelical efforts of Jesuits (since 1549), followed by Franciscans (1593), Dominicans (1602), and Augustinians (1602) from Manila, there were many Christian communities in Japan — in Kyoto, Osaka, Sakai and in the Noto Peninsula.

But the most numbers could be found in Nagasaki. In 1614, Nagasaki had 14 churches and shrines: ● Todos os Santos; ● Santa Maria; ● Santo Domingo; ● San Francisco; ● San Antonio; ● Santiago (with hospital); ● San Pedro; ● Santa Isabel (Misericordia headquarters); ● San Agustin; ● Church of the Assumption and Colegio of San Pablo; ● Episcopal See and Seminary for diocesan priests; ● San João Baptista and hospital of San Lazaro; ● Nishizaka martyrdom site (since 1597); and ● San Lazaro. (Source: Gonoi 2006, 45)

Lord Justo Takayama led the first group of 350 refugees deported from Japan – arriving in Manila on Dec. 21, 1614 – with the statue of Our Lady of the Holy Rosary from the Santo Domingo Church of Nagasaki.

Three Religious Icons Survived

►Originally brought to Japan from Manila, the three religious statues — ● Santo Cristo (brought by Augustinian missionaries to Japan in 1612) ● Our Lady of the Holy Rosary (“La Japona” – brought by the first Dominican missionaries to Satsuma in 1602) and ● Our Lady of Good Counsel (Mater boni consilii), brought by Augustinians, 1612) — found their way back to the Philippines, and have been continuously enshrined in three Catholic churches for the past 400 years.

Except for the Dominican “La Japona,” which was squired by Lord Justo Ukon Takayama during his exile voyage to Manila from Nov. 8 – Dec. 21, 1614, the two other religious statues were off-floated in a single crate that was fished out of the seas off Badoc, Ilocos Norte in 1620.#

One Large Crate Had Floated Off Badoc, Ilocos Norte in 1620

►In 1620, a wooden crate was fished off the sea by Ilocano fisherfolk off the coast between Barangay Dadalaquiten of Sinait, Ilocos Sur and Barangay Paguetpet of Badoc, Ilocos Norte. In short, in the cove between Sinait and Badoc.

When they opened the crate, they were surprised to find a statue of the Black Nazarene and a Marian image holding the Christ-Child. Being devout Catholics, they immediately considered the statues as a God-send. They took this as a sign from Providence – a gift from Heaven.

As legend has it, the fishermen from Sinait were unable to move the statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary, but had no difficulty moving the statue of the Black Nazarene.

Similarly, the fishermen from Badoc were able to move the statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary (later called the “La Virgen Milagrosa”) with ease, though they were unable to carry the image of the Black Nazarene.

The two groups brought the statues to their respective towns, where they became their towns’ patron saints.

Since 1620, miracles have been attributed to the two images, but these reports were anecdotal — without any ecclesiastical inquiries to verify individual testimonies. Since their discovery, numerous miracles were attributed to both in Sinait and Badoc, including the end of an epidemic in the capital town of Vigan, Ilocos Sur when the images were brought there for devotion.

◘ Santo Cristo (enshrined at San Agustin Church, Nagasaki in 1612)

►While the two Augustinian icons could have been brought out of Japan through the Takayama exile boat in 1614, they were not.

The crate they were shipped in was fished off the coast of Badoc in 1620. The Kuroshio Current (黒潮 , “くろしお) – or “Japan Current” — that brought the crate to Badoc would have taken less than a year to reach Luzon.

The statue of Santo Cristo was of a crucified Black Nazarene – much like the Mexico-sourced icon at the Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene, in Quiapo, Manila. It is now enshrined at the Sanctuary of the Miraculous Statue of the Black Nazarene (“El Santo Cristo Milagroso”), fondly called by its residents as “Apo Lakay.”

The statue of Santo Cristo has been enshrined at the San Nicolas de Tolentino Parish Church in Sinait, Ilocos Sur since 1620
“Apo Lakay” draws fervent devotees to Sinait, Ilocos Sur — from all Ilocano provinces.

◘ Our Lady of the Holy Rosary (“La Japona”)

The first recorded religious icon to leave Japan was “La Japona” which was “extracted” in 1614 from the Dominican Church of Our Lady of the Rosary. This was entrusted to Lord Takayama (who had a cabin) by fellow-deportee Dominican missionaries who were berthed on the top deck, open to the elements.

►The Santo Domingo Church was established in Nagasaki in 1612 – after the “La Japona” was first brought in 1602 by pioneering Dominican missionaries to Satsuma, Japan, where the Marian icon was enshrined at various mission stations the Dominicans built – until it found a home in Nagasaki.

►The full story is detailed at

First Marian icon that had been saved was the Lady of the Holy Rosary, later short-named “La Japona,” which was extracted from the Santo Domingo Church (est. 1612) in Nagasaki, and brought to Manila in the safekeeping of Lord Justo Ukon Takayama (whose family had rented a cabin).
Osaka Archbishop (now Cardinal) Thomas Aquinas Manyo Maeda made a pilgrimage to “La Japona” in April 2018, with two groups of parishioners from Osaka.

The celebrated Marian image is enshrined at the Santo Domingo Church in Quezon City. Today, the Santo Domingo Priory enshrines three iterations of Our Lady of the Holy Rosary. To differentiate the three Marian statues, all called Our Lady of the Holy Rosary, they are short-named ◘ La Naval, ◘ La Mexicana, and ◘ La Japona — (NOT “La Japonesa.”)

◘ Our Lady of Good Counsel — Now “La Virgen Milagrosa”

►The “La Virgen Milagrosa” is enshrined at the Badoc Church — St. John the Baptist Parish Church (est. 1591) – which was once a chapel under the jurisdiction of Sinait. It was formally recognized as a parish only in 1714 with St. John the Baptist as patron saint.

In Badoc, the atmosphere of grace from the presence of the Virgin and her Child, has earned for her the title of “La Virgin Milagrosa” — the “Miraculous Virgin.” This has been crowned by Catholic Bishops in 1980, and was granted a Canonical coronation by Pope Francis in May 31, 2018.

What the image looks now – her raiment, her locks, her crown – is certainly not the same as when found in 1620, as – across the centuries — devotees offer new raiment and add precious stones for prayers granted. These precious stones are offerings from the faithful, not only of Badoc, but of the entire province of Ilocos Norte.

Where Did the Statues Come From?

►After an earlier failed effort in 1607, Fr. Hernando Ayala, OSA, succeeded in establishing San Agustin Church in Nagasaki in 1612 in what is today modern Furodomo-machi. The church was named St. Augustine Church and designated as the headquarters of the Ordo Sancti Augustini (OSA). The church — which was under the care of the Third Order of St. Augustine Brotherhood of the Cincture — served a parish community of over 4,000 families with 10,000 individuals, many of whom joined the Third Order and the Archconfraternity of the Cincture that Fr. Hernando introduced and organized.

One particular devotional practice connected with the Augustinian Order is the veneration of the Blessed Virgin under the title of “Mother of Good Counsel” (Mater Boni Consilii). In all countries where they have missions, the Augustinians encourage confraternities to spread devotion to this Marian devotion. Our Lady of Good Counsel’s feast day is celebrated on April 26.

In 1614, did the Augustinians hold on to their religious icons – in the hope of better days to come?

But then around 1617, persecutions of Christians intensified. The Augustinian, Fr. Ferdinand of Saint Joseph, along with Andrew Yoshida, a catechist who worked with him, were beheaded in 1617. With no churches or convents, whatever missionary effort became an underground ministry. (During the 35 years of the Order’s presence, 24 friars were martyred, and counting only those whose names are known, 57 members of the Third Order and 47 members of the Archconfraternity of the Cincture shed their blood for Christ.)

Maybe it was time for the Augustinians-in-hiding in “underground missions” to ship out the two religious icons to safer harbors?

Archival Account

The earliest extant chronicle on the origin and discovery of these religious artifacts is reportedly in the 1764 “Chronicle of Fray Pedro de Vivar, OSA” – written in Europe 140 years after the event — archived at the Augustinian Archives in Valladolid, Spain. (It has not been ascertained yet whether Fr. De Vivar’s account supports the speculation that the two icons, now in Ilocos, were originally from Nagasaki. But, as Agustinians continued to work in Japan till 1637, it is possible that some mission reports reached OSA headquarters.)

But Fr. Ericson Josué, historian and archivist of the diocese of Laoag, now has a copy of the tract. In time, we will know what, if any,  the 1764 “Chronicle of Fray Pedro de Vivar, OSA” says on the subject of Santo Cristo and Our Lady of Good Counsel.

The Badoc Church

St. John the Baptist Parish Church — shrine of “La Virgen Milagrosa” in Badoc, Ilocos Norte.
La Virgen Milagrosa de Badoc” inside the St. John the Baptist Parish Church in Badoc.

Canonical Coronation

►Following the issuance of decree on Dec. 6, 2017 by the Vatican Congregation for Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments, Cardinal Robert Sarah, its Prefect, granted “La Virgen Milagrosa de Badoc,” patroness of Ilocos Norte, the privilege of being crowned as mandated by papal authority.

In the Run -Up to the Coronation

►Across the years, as devotion grew, the Badoc parishioners introduced a “La Virgen Milagrosa fluvial parade” in waters around the La Virgen Milagrosa Cove – where the crate was reportedly found.

Devotees from the province would first attend the Concelebrated Mass at St. John the Baptist Church in Badoc and after the Mass, the image of Blessed Virgin Mary traveled in the shoreline of La Virgen Milagrosa Cove.

Traditionally, both the Mayor and the Parish Priest escort La Virgen Milagrosa in her banca, while, provincial officials joined in their respective fishing boats.

Parish priest and Badoc Mayor — in banca carrying “La Virgen Milagrosa de Badoc.”
In some years, La Virgen Milagrosa is paraded alone in her banca.

Shoreside spectators united by praying the Holy Rosary while the fluvial procession sailed ’round the La Virgen Milagrosa Cove.


►On Thursday, May 31, 2018. Manila Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle — “in the name and by the authority of the Holy Father, Pope Francis” — crowned the Marian image of “La Virgen Milagrosa de Badoc” in her shrine at St. John the Baptist Parish Church in Badoc. He was assisted by Cotabato Cardinal Orlando Quevedo and Laoag Bishop Renato Mayugba.

Cardinal Tagle, on behalf of Pope Francis, presided at the Canonical Coronation of “La Virgen Milagrosa de Badoc,” assisted by Cardinal Quevedo and Bishop Mayugba.

Many bishops and a large number of priests were joined by thousands of devotees, from Ilocos Norte and the neighboring provinces of Ilocos Sur, Abra, La Union, Cagayan, Isabela and Batanes.

Cardinal Quevedo’s Homily

►Cardinal Quevedo delivered the homily. The Cotabato Cardinal, whose family originally came from Sarrat, Ilocos Norte, said that these sacred images are believed to have come from the persecuted Christians in Japan who had jettisoned these religious artifacts to the sea to prevent their threatened desecration – leaving it to the “Kurushio” to bring the crate to Luzon.

The Cotabato Cardinal, who had previously been seen sent to Japan as Papal Legate to install a bronze statue of San Lorenzo Ruiz in Nakamachi Church in Nagasaki, recalled the martyrs of Japan’s anti-Christian persecution, particularly Blessed Justo Ukon Takayama (1552-1615) and St. Lorenzo Ruíz (1600-1637) – both regarded as stalwarts of the Martyr Church of Japan.

He concluded his homily with a challenge that, like these two venerated martyrs, the faithful should follow “La Virgen Milgrosa” who stands beneath the cross of “Santo Cristo Milagroso.”

Significant Coronation Date

The date chosen for the Canonical Coronation was May 31, 2018, Feast of the Visitation. Ilocano devotees were asked to reflect on the theme of the event: “Exultavit in Gaudio!” – Leap for Joy! from Lk. 1:41: “Upon Mary’s visitation to Elizabeth, the child John the Baptist ‘in utero’ (in the womb), leaped for joy.”

The chosen theme was inspired by the fact that the Lady of Badoc is also called, “Cause of Our Joy,” while the patron saint of the town of Badoc is St. John the Baptist. Hence, doing the coronation on the Feast of the Visitation is very fitting.

The culminating day was marked by the Concelebrated Mass and Coronation with a procession of “Virgen Milagrosa” around the main streets of Badoc accompanied by thousands of devotees who were recipients of her powerful intercession.

Procession through the principal streets of Badoc, Ilocos Norte

‘To Crown Mary is to Love the Poor’

In his address of thanksgiving, Bishop Renato Mayugba of Laoag said that “crowning our Mother and our Queen with diadems finds its fulfillment and meaning through extending our help to the poor and the needy and particularly to those in the peripheries … to crown Mary is to love the poor.”#

”La Virgen Milagrosa de Badoc” in front of St. John the Baptist Church in Badoc.


►A “Pasig Liturgical Photographers” video of “The Pontifical Coronation of La Virgen Milagrosa de Badoc” may be seen at:

Dr. Ernesto A. de Pedro
Managing Trustee

Centuries-Old Christian Painting Found in Japan

Very rare discovery

►(CNA/EWTN News) — A Christian scroll found in a Japanese museum is believed to be from the earliest days of Christianity in the country, researchers have said.

The scroll measures about 10.5 feet long and about nine inches high, and depicts 15 scenes from the passion, death, and resurrection of Jesus. The pictures include religious figures wearing traditional Japanese garments, and Latin prayers are spelled out in Japanese phonetic letters throughout the scroll.

The scroll — [done with China ink on a scroll made of Japanese “washi” paper] — was discovered at Sawada Miki Kinenkan Museum in the town of Oiso, Kanagawa Prefecture, near Tokyo, which collects historical Christian items.

Rare scroll — with Latin prayers

According to Japanese newspaper The Mainichi, an inscription on the scroll reads “1592 years since His Birth,” leading historians to believe that this was the year the scroll was created. Carbon dating has dated the scroll as having been created prior to the year 1633, the museum said.

If this dating is accurate, the scroll would be from a period of cruel and violent persecution of Christians in Japan.

Christianity arrived to the islands of Japan when St. Francis Xavier came to the country in 1549, though it is possible that Nestorian Christians had arrived at the islands in the 400s, only to retreat some years later.

Francis Xavier and his Jesuit missionaries evangelized and baptized many Japanese, sometimes converting whole provinces to Christianity.

By the 1580s, there were more than 200,000 Christians in Japan, including several influential leaders who had converted. But in 1587, the Imperial Regent (“Kampaku), Toyotomi Hideyoshi (豊臣 秀吉, 1537-1598) commanded all Jesuit missionaries to leave the country within six months.

Hideyoshi’s “Edict of expulsion of the Christian Padres” (吉利支丹伴天連追放令), 1587.

Many missionaries remained in secret, but a time of intense anti-Christian persecution had begun. Christian converts were tortured by burning or flaying of their skin until they renounced their faith. If they refused to renounce, they were usually put to death by burning, beheading, or crucifixion.

Most Europeans were banned from the island at the time, for fear they would try to convert the Japanese to Christianity. In 1642, five Jesuits landed in Japan, but were soon discovered and killed. The Christian faith was prohibited throughout Japan until 1871, when the Japanese people were granted freedom of religion.

The scroll discovered at the museum is one of few Christian artifacts from Japan, as most were destroyed after the faith was banned in 1612.

Osamu Inoue, head of the Yokohama History Museum and one of the people who studied the artifact, said the pictures were likely created in response to the rapid growth of the Christian faith in Japan after the arrival of St. Francis Xavier.

“Ordinary people perhaps drew such pictures on papers because the material was inexpensive and (authentic) religious items were in short supply due to a rapid growth of the follower population,” he told The Mainichi.

The work depicts 15 scenes relating to Jesus Christ and the Virgin Mary, including the Annunciation and the Pentecost. The painting also bears some writing. An analysis shows it is Latin prayers that someone transcribed from a verbal form.

The scroll is now on display at the at Sawada Miki Kinenkan Museum in the town of Oiso, in Kanagawa Prefecture.

The history of Christianity in Japan has recently received new attention, with the U.N. recognizing several places of Christian importance in Japan as UNESCO World Heritage sites, and with the 2017 beatification of Justo Takayama Ukon (高山右近), a Catholic samurai and martyr.#


Japan’s 436 Martyrs Are Venerated in Altars Throughout Christendom

►These martyrs — 42 Japanese Saints and 393 Beati (Blessed) —  represent the largest batch of martyrs in any single nation in the last 400 years.

The 26 Martyrs of Nagasaki were the first group of Christians to be crucified – and lanced — in a grim parody of Jesus Christ’s sacrifice at Calvary

Japan’s martyrs were processed by the Congregation for the Causes of Saints (CCS) — in only four batches:

◘ The 26 Martyrs of Nagasaki (martyred 1597; beatified 1627; canonized 1862).

This first group includes St. Pedro Bautista (1542-1597), former Superior of all Franciscans in the Philippines and founder of the Franciscan Monastery at San Francisco del Monte, Manila — before he was sent to Japan in May 1593 as personal envoy of Governor-General Gomez Perez Dasmariñas to Hideyoshi. After his diplomatic chores were done, Bautista was allowed to stay on to establish a Franciscan mission.

◘ 205 Martyrs of Japan (1598-1632) – (beatified 1867). This was the largest group beatification ceremony in church history.

◘ Sixteen Martyrs of Japan (1633-1637) — (beatified, 1981; canonized 1987).

◘ The 188 Japanese Martyrs (1603-1639) — (beatified in Nagasaki in November 2008).

SOLO CANDIDATE — The “Kiririshitan Samurai” Justo Ukon Takayama (1552-1615) – was born in Toyono-cho, Osaka, Japan, but died in exile in Manila. Promoted for sainthood by the Manila Archdiocese (Oct. 5, 1630); declared Servant of God (as a Confessor), June 5, 1994; beatified (as a Martyr), Feb. 7, 2017. Alone, among Japan’s 436 venerated Martyrs, he was processed SOLO – not as a Group Martyr.

Pope tells Japanese bishops not to forget these early martyrs

►In a letter to Japanese bishops, Pope Francis urges his brother prelates to … remember the witness of your martyrs. He remembered two martyrs in particular: ● St. Paulo Miki (パウロ三木; c1562–Feb. 5, 1597) and ● Blessed Justo Ukon Takayama (高山右近; 1552-Feb. 3, 1615). These courageous martyrs represent “the true evangelizing power of your church,” that should always be remembered, cherished and built upon.

►Pope Francis said that when he recalls the Church in Japan, his “thought runs to the witness of so many Martyrs, who offered their life for the faith.” He went on to encourage the bishops to provide “solid and integral priestly and religious formation.”  And he noted the role that can be played by “the Ecclesial Movements approved by the Apostolic See. With their evangelizing impulse and testimony, they can be of help in pastoral service and in the missio ad gentes.”

The Holy Father’s Letter

►“Every time I think of the Church in Japan, my thought runs to the witness of so many Martyrs, who offered their life for the faith. They have always had a special place in my heart: I think of Saint Paul Miki and his companions, who in 1597 were immolated, faithful to Christ and to the Church; I think of the innumerable Confessors of the faith, of Blessed Justus Ukon Takayama, who in the same period preferred poverty and the way of exile rather than abjure the name of Jesus.

“And what to say of the so-called “hidden Christians,” who from 1600 to the middle of the 1800s lived in clandestinity not to abjure but to keep their faith, of which we recently recalled the 150th anniversary of the discovery? The long list of Martyrs and Confessors of the faith, by nationality, language, social class and age, had in common a profound love for the Son of God, renouncing either their own civil status or other aspects of their social condition, all “for the sake of Christ” (Philippians 3:8).

“Mindful of such spiritual patrimony, it is dear to me to address you, Brothers, who have inherited it and who with delicate solicitude continue the task of evangelization, especially by taking care of the weakest and fostering the integration in the communities of the faithful of various provinces. I want to thank you for this, as well as for your commitment to cultural <and> inter-religious dialogue and to the care of Creation. In particular, I wish to reflect with you on the missionary commitment of the Church in Japan. “If the Church is born catholic (namely, universal) it means that it was born “outbound,” that she was born missionary” (General Audience of 17.9.2014). In fact, “the love of Christ compels” us (2 Corinthians 5:14) to offer our life for the Gospel. Such dynamism dies if we lose the missionary enthusiasm. Therefore, “life grows by being given away, and it weakens in isolation and comfort. Indeed, those who enjoy the most are those who leave security on the shore and become excited by the mission of communicating life to others” (Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, 10).

“I pause on the discourse on the mountain, in which Jesus says: “You are the salt of the earth; […] You are the light of the world” (Matthew 5:13-14). Salt and light are related to a service. The Church in as much as salt has the task to preserve from corruption and to give flavor; in as much as light she impedes the darkness from prevailing, ensuring a clear vision about the reality and end of existence. These words are also a strong call to fidelity and authenticity, namely, it’s necessary that salt truly give flavour and light overcome darkness. The Kingdom of Heaven, as Jesus speaks of it, appears initially with the poverty of a bit of leaven or a small seed; this symbolism reproduces well the present situation of the Church in the context of the Japanese world. Jesus has entrusted to her a great spiritual and moral mission. I know well that not a few difficulties exist because of the lack of clergy, of men and women religious and the limited participation of the lay faithful. However, the scarcity of labourers cannot reduce the commitment to evangelization; rather, it is the occasion that stimulates to seek it incessantly, as the householder of the vineyard does who goes out at all hours to find new labourers for his vineyard (Cf. Matthew 20:1-7).

“Dear Brothers, the challenges that the present reality puts before you cannot make you resigned and even less so return to an irenic and paralyzing dialogue, even if some problematic situations arouse not a few preoccupations: I am referring, for instance, to the high rate of divorces, of suicides even among young people, to persons that choose to live totally detached from social life (hikikomori), to religious and spiritual formalism, to moral relativism, to religious indifference, to the obsession for work and earnings. It’s also true that a society that runs in economic development also creates among you the marginalized, the excluded. I am thinking not only of those that are materially so, but also of those that are so spiritually and morally. In this very peculiar context, the need is urgent for the Church in Japan to renew constantly the choice for Jesus’ mission and to be salt and light.  The genuine evangelizing strength of your Church, which comes to her also from having been a Church of Martyrs and Confessors of the faith, is a great good to guard and develop.

“In this connection, I would like to stress the necessity — a particularly urgent task today — especially because of the spread of the “disposable culture” (Meeting with Seminarians, and Men and Women Novices, 6.7.2013). Such a mentality leads young people, especially, to think that it’s not possible to truly love, that there is nothing stable and that everything, including love, is relative to the circumstances and the needs of sentiment. Therefore, a more important step in priestly and religious formation is to help those that undertake such a course to understand and experience in depth the characteristics of the love taught by Jesus, which is gratuitous, entails the sacrifice of oneself, and merciful forgiveness. This experience renders one capable of going against the current and of trusting the Lord, who doesn’t disappoint. It is the witness of which Japanese society has so much thirst.

“Dear Brothers in the Episcopate, I entrust each one of you to the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary and I assure you of my closeness and prayer. May the Lord send laborers to His Church in Japan and support you with His consolation.

“I extend upon you, upon the Church in Japan and its noble people my Apostolic Blessing, while I ask you not to forget me in your prayers.”

Dr. Ernesto A. de Pedro
Takayama Trustee


Vatican Apostolic ‘Breve’ to Lord Justo Takayama, April 24, 1590

Vatican Archives

►In 1587, the Imperial Regent (“Kampaku), Toyotomi Hideyoshi (豊臣 秀吉, 1537-1598) banished Christian missionaries from Kyūshū to exert greater control over the Kirishitan Daimyōs. Christianity was repressed as a threat to a newly-reunified Japan.

At the same time, Hideyoshi ordered all Daimyōs who were Christian converts to renounce their fealty to a foreign God – or lose their fiefs: castles, armed forces, rice income (in “koku”) – and be reduced to “ronin” — masterless samurai.

However, since Hideyoshi made much of trade with Europeans, individual Christians were overlooked unofficially. (It was only after the Tokugawa shogunate banned Christianity in 1620, that Christianity ceased to exist publicly.)

Hideyoshi’s “Edict of expulsion of the Christian Padres” (吉利支丹伴天連追放令), 1587.

►Hideyoshi’s move against Lord Justo Ukon Takayama (高山右近,1552-1615) was personal and calculated. The demand was made in the middle of military campaign that Ukon was leading for Hideyoshi in Kyushu.

Ukon’s answer to the emissary sent by Hideyoshi – the renowned Teamaster Sen no Rikyū (千利休, 1522–1591), friend of both Hideyoshi and Ukon — was firm and measured: “My loyalty is to the hegemon, but my God comes first.”

[Note that Ukon’s banishment from Akashi in 1587 was fully ten years BEFORE the first gory martyrdoms – by crucifixion — at Nishizaka Hill in Nagasaki, which were ordered by the same Toyotomi Hideyoshi, now ruling as “Taiko” or Retired Regent. Ukon was on top of the original list of Japanese Christians to be executed — until Lord Maeda intervened to remove Ukon from that execution list.]

The “confrontation” between Hideyoshi and Ukon did not happen — though it is famously illustrated in historical accounts. The ultimatum was sent through Sen no Rikyū (千利休), the Grand Teamaster

Having declared his defiant decision, Lord Ukon Takayama, now 35, sent runners to warn his family in Funage Castle in Akashi of the dire events and they escaped to the protection of a fellow Christian, Lord Agostinho Yukinaga Konishi (小西 行長, 1555–1600) who – though a committed Christian like Ukon — was secure in the affection of Hideyoshi because he was needed to command  Hideyoshi’s two military invasions of Korea — First Invasion [1592–1593]; Second Invasion [1596-1598].

Pope Sixtus V Sends Papal ‘Breve’ to ‘Dom Justo Ucondono’ in Japan

Pope Sixtus V (r. 1585-1590)

►On April 24, 1590 – in the fifth year of his papacy and four months before he died, Pope Sixtus V (r. 1585-Aug. 27, 1590) issued a “Papal Breve” exhorting Justo Ukon Takayama (高山右近,1552-1615) to hold fast to his Catholic Faithand “be an inspiration to other oppressed Christians.”

[A papal brief (“breve”) was used for the popes’ private or even secret correspondence. Written not in the chancery but, instead, by papal secretaries (an office dating from about 1338), the briefs were sealed on wax with the imprint of the papal signet ring.]

The Pope said he was aware of the flare-up of persecutions mounted against followers of Jesus Christ. As one who was baptized in the Faith, the celebrated “Kirishitan Samurai” was urged to endure with fortitude all the trials that came his way. The prayers of the Pope were with him. The saints revered by the Church were those who were forged in the fire of adversity, and they emerged stronger for their steadfastness.

The Pope appreciated the difficult circumstances of the Christian community in Japan and, with the former Daimyō Takayama as its major pillar, the Pope wanted to shore up his courage. But there was no necessity for that, as Pope Sixtus himself acknowledged. Ukon was a committed Christian who understood and appreciated his duties derived from his Baptism.

In Domestic Exile in Kanazawa

►In 1590, the year the Papal Breve was written, Dom Justo Ucondono was already in domestic exile in Kanazawa – where he found sanctuary in the service of Lord Toshiie Maeda (前田 利家, 1538–1599) as a guest general (“Kyakusho”) of Maeda’s troops since 1588.

Over 200 Daimyōs — in Ukon’s Era

►In Takayama’s time (1552-1615), there were some 215 Daimyōs who ruled parts of Japan.  Only landlords [sometimes rendered as “warlords”] heading “han” assessed at 10,000 “koku” (50,000 bushels) or more were considered Daimyōs. [The term, “dai” (大) means “large”, and “myō” stands for “myōden” (名田), meaning private land.]

Of some 86 Daimyōs. who had converted to Christianity between 1563 to 1600 – only Ukon and former Daimyō Joan Tocuan Naitō (内藤 如安), did not abandon their faith. Lord Ōtomo Sōrin (1530-June 11, 1587), also known as Fujiwara no Yoshishige (藤原 義鎮), of the Funai Domain on Kyūshū, wavered but a scion joined Ukon in the exile of the first 350 Japanese Christians to Manila on Nov. 8, 1614.

Lord Toshiie Maeda

►Lord Maeda was the richest Daimyō in Japan – and relatively secure in the affections of Hideyoshi. In time, Hideyoshi would appoint Maeda to be a member of the Council of Five Elders (五大老 Go-Tairō), a group of five powerful feudal lords formed in 1598 by the Regent (太閤 TaikōToyotomi Hideyoshi, shortly before his death in the same year. His son, Toyotomi Hideyori, was still only 5 years old and as such Hideyoshi needed to create the Council to ensure his heir would be able to succeed him after coming of age.

►During his service to Lord Maeda for the next 26 years, Ukon was rewarded with an estate in Noto Peninsula, with generous revenues to support his family. While functioning in Kanazawa, Ukon invited some 600 masterless Christian samurai – “ronin” – who had lost their privileges for staunchly remaining Christian despite the government’s prohibition — to live as a truly Christian community in Noto Peninsula. Ukon built two churches in his estate in Shio-machi and Shika-machi, Hakui-Gun, Ishikawa Prefecture — with one Jesuit chaplain and one Jesuit Brother serving in both places. This was the first dedicated community of Christians ever in Japan.

Ukon Went to Battle With Vanguard of 600 Christian Samurai

Ukon and his army fought under the banner of the Cross

►It should be noted that during the 12 years he was Daimyō of Takatsuki (becoming castle-lord of Takatsuki Castle at age 21), Takayama’s vanguard was composed of 600 men – all Christians, all ready to die at the battlefield with Ukon. Theoretically he could support a 20,000-man army, with his revenue of 20,000 “koku” of rice.

James Murdoch writes in “A History of Japan” (1903) that, at the Battle of Yamazaki (山崎の戦い Yamazaki no tatakai, fought in 1582 in Yamazaki), Lord Takayama led the first detachment of “less than 1,000 troops” but “they were so fired with the ardor of battle, and so confident with the help of God that on seeing the enemy, Justo did not hesitate to lead them to battle. And they so bore themselves that in a twinkling, they [accounted for] more than 200 nobles of Akechi.”

This led Lord Ieyasu Tokugawa (徳川 家康, 1543–June 1, 1616), who would become the first of the Tokugawa shoguns who ruled Japan till 1868 — to remark: “In Ukon’s hands 1,000 soldiers would be worth more than 10,000 in the hands of whosoever else.”

Takayama Archival Research

►The Takayama Historical Committee that researched on Ukon Takayama was headed by ● Fr. Hubert Cieslik, SJ, Vice-Moderator, “Kirishitan-bunka-kenkyukai” and editor of the Sacred Heart Magazine in Tokyo, ● Peter Yakichi Kataoka, professor in Collegio Junshin Joshi-Tanki-Daigaku in Nagasaki, and ● Fr. P. Diego Pacheco, SJ, director of the Twenty-Six Martyrs Museum in Nagasaki. Fr. Pacheco researched on European sources.

Jesuit researchers — compiling historical documents to support the Cause of Canonization of Justo Ukon Takayama (which had been a Cause of the Manila Archdiocese since 1630, up to 1963 when Manila Cardinal Rufino J. Santos (1908-1973) seconded the “Cause of Takayama” to the Church of Japan –– chanced on the document in the Vatican Archives.

Print-out of Papal Breve sent to Dom Justo Ucondono on April 24, 1590 (Arch. Vat., Ann. 44, v. 29 ff. 437va-438v. Nr. 42). 

The Papal Breve Was Written in “Cursus Curiae Romanae” Style

►The “Breve” was written in Latin, the root of Europe’s Romanic languages, but now considered a “dead language” – although, in 1590, it was taught at all levels of education in Europe. Even today, Latin is still commonly used in science, medicine, and law. It was the Catholic Church which largely kept it alive – until Vatican II (1962-1965) abandoned the Latin Mass.

The Vatican parchment was written in the “Cursus Curiae Romanae” style – which is some 16 centuries removed from the classical Latin of Julius Caesar’s “De Bello Gallico” (‎58–49 BC). Its use was promoted by Pope Urban II (r. 1088-1099). His papal chancery standardized the “Cursus Curiae Romanae” as a rhythmical style for the official documents issued by the Vatican. By the 12th century, the template for all future papal correspondence had emerged. The task, which began under Pope Urban II (1088-1099), was completed under Pope Gelasius II (1118-1119). The system established a set of rules governing the balance and cadence of epistolary periods.

The affairs of the Holy See were handled primarily by the Apostolic Chancery through which the Pope conducts his business – his secretarial office. The Breve to Ukon was penned by Msgr. Marcellus Vestrius Barbianus, the Papal Secretary who served several successive Popes.

Breve Was Printed in First Takayama ‘Positio’

►There is no account that the “Breve” ever reached Ukon — but a copy of the Latin text exists in the Vatican Archives. (Arch. Vat., Ann. 44, v. 29 ff. 437va-438v. Nr. 42). The text was first reproduced in the first Takayama “Positio”: “Servus Dei, Justus Takayama Ukon: Materia Praeparata Pro Propositione Super Virtutibus Servi Dei Justi Takayama Ukon” (Manila: Lord Takayama Jubilee Foundation, 1994).

Text ‘Tweaked’ by Prof. Jenkins

►Prof. Anthony Philip Jenkins (1949- ), Oxford-educated Professor Emeritus of History, Archive Science and Latin at the Okinawa Prefectural University of Arts, in Naha, Okinawa, teased out the correct Latin text from the Vatican parchment.

Prof. Anthony Philip Jenkins (left), who edited the Latin text, was presented by Dr. Ernesto A. de Pedro (right), Takayama Trustee, with a framed copy of the Vatican Parchment that was sent to Dom Justo Ucondono in 1590

First English Translation

►After Prof. Jenkins had “tweaked” the Breve for misprints and typographical errors ● made when an amanuensis created a file copy for the Vatican Archives, ● during the transcription of the archival copy by Jesuit researchers, and ● during its digitization by Dr. Ernesto A. de Pedro, Takayama Trustee, for inclusion in the first “Takayama Positio,” he made a provisional English translation and left it to Dr. de Pedro to edit out the “curlicues of language” that characterized the “Cursus Curiae Romanae” style.

Apostolic Blessing

►Addressed to “Beloved Son and Noble Sir: Greetings and Apostolic Blessings,” the “Papal Breve” was dated April 24, 1590 – exactly 125 days before the Pope died. The message exhorted Ukon – and “others suffering Persecution”: “Hold fast to your Christian Faith!”

The apostolic blessing was addressed – NOT to Lord Justus Ukon Takayama – but to “Nobilis Vir, Justi Ucodono” – “Nobleman Justo Ucondono,” which is how the Jesuits referred to Ukon in their accounts.

What Did Pope Sixtus V Write?

Beloved Son and Noble Sir: Greetings and Apostolic Blessings!

>>>Since you have revealed yourself by readily abandoning honors, by disdaining wealth and, under adverse circumstances, accepting this outcome as the Will of God, you have shown that you are a good Christian who, though accustomed to receive just treatment, yet you have readily accepted the Reality of Exile, suffering the loss of all your worldly possessions with constancy of mind.

>>>Furthermore, you have demonstrated how the Christian virtues of Faith, Hope and Charity are lived out in the midst of trouble and misfortunes. As you have also disdained Death, the Christian religion has advanced and increased by the example of your own life put to the test of Peril.

>>>We have rejoiced that you have displayed the mindfulness of a man of Faith awaiting the heavenly reward of an outstanding Christian, worthy to be emulated by other men. In the causes of Divine Glory and the salvation of your people, much praise be yours.

>>>Wherefore, since you know those who defend and stand up for Jesus, regardless of the consequences, will be blessed and belong to Heaven, We freely impart our apostolic blessings to a singular promoter of God’s Kingdom and an undaunted witness to the Catholic Faith

>>>You know from the Word of God that the Blessed will find themselves in the Kingdom of Heaven, and well as those who raise up the Cross according to His Example and follow Christ — just as you perceive that Christian adherents are bound to grieve when their Leader is put to the test for the sake of our holy Catholic Faith.

>>>In this regard, you do not need to receive our Counsel as you are endowed with Outstanding Courage. We do not consider that you need our Encouragement to face a firestorm of your own free will. Indeed, that is because you have confronted tests by yourself.

>>>But we endeavor to draw attention to the Cause of others suffering Persecution — rather than to your Cause. The pursuit of Heaven needs to be carried forward as far as possible with the Shield of your Unshakable Faith.

>>>Dated Rome, at St. Peter’s, under the Ring of the Fisherman, April 24. 1590, in the 5th year of our Pontificate.

Vatican Parchment

Vatican Parchment

►What did a Vatican parchment look like? Here’s a sample “Breve” – NOT Ukon’s – from the Vatican Archives.#

Dr. Ernesto A. de Pedro
Takayama Trustee

Two Pilgrim Churches — The Philippines and Japan

The Venerated Martyrs of Japan

►In four centuries of Christianity, the Philippines — the largest Catholic nation in Asia and the third largest in the world — has produced TWO SAINTS – San Lorenzo Ruiz (martyred 1637) and San Pedro Calungsod (martyred 1672).

The Martyr Church of Japan has 42 Saints and 394 “Beati” (Blessed) — the latest being Blessed Justo Ukon Takayama Ukon (beatified 2017).

All 436 venerated Catholics were Martyrs – processed in five batches by the Vatican’s Congregation for the Causes of Saints.

Only Blessed Takayama was processed individually – meaning, he stood solo on the dock when the Congregation examined his heroic virtues — earning the title “Servant of God” (as a Confessor) on June 8, 1994, and “Blessed“ (as a Martyr) on Feb. 7, 2017.◘

Dr. Ernesto A. de Pedro
Takayama Trustee

The Tomb of Lord Justo Takayama in Intramuros, Manila

►No illustration or artwork about the original Takayama tomb at the Jesuit church in Intramuros – the Santa Ana Church — has surfaced so far.

From Jesuit chronicles, we know only that Lord Takayama was buried in a side room near the main altar – much like the Legazpi Tomb at the San Agustin Church.

Lord Justo Ukon Takayama was buried “with great lamentation and sorrow” near the High Altar of the Santa Ana Church – where the Fathers Superior of the Society of Jesus were also interred — in the expectation that Ukon would one day be raised to the ranks of the Saints.
What did Takayama’s tomb look like?

No Illustration

No sketch has been found to give an idea.

The grandest tomb in Manila at that time was that of El Adelantado, the Spanish Governor-General Miguel Lopez de Legazpi (1502-1572), who died 43 years earlier. Legazpi’s body was entombed at the Capilla de Legazpi near the main altar of San Agustin Church, its top slab covered by a bas relief of Legazpi – a grand tomb worth replicating. Across four centuries, neither earthquakes nor howitzer shells nor grave robbers have damaged it. (The Legazpi tomb is still there today!)

Common Tomb

But Karl Aguilar (“The Urban Roamer”) corrects that claim “It must be clarified that despite the presence of a ‘tombstone’ with Legazpi depicted in repose, it is not actually the tomb of Legazpi himself. It is actually a common tomb where Legazpi, along with the remains of his grandsons Juan de Salcedo and, possibly, Juan’s brother Felipe, (possibly) former Governor General Guido de Lavezares, Blessed Pedro de Zuniga, and a few others [repose].

Originally, they had their own tombs but their remains were disturbed (by predatory British grave-robbers) when the British took control of San Agustin Church during the British Occupation of 1762-1764 as they were looking for treasure [to enrich the coffers of the British Empire].

“When the Augustinians regained control of the church, they decided to gather all the remains and place them in the spot where they are located today.”◘

Dr. Ernesto A. de Pedro
Takayama Trustee

Before Takayama Was Born — St. Francis Xavier Brought Christianity to Japan

St. Francis Xavier (1506-1552)

►Justo Takayama Ukon (1552-1615) lived during Japan’s Christian Century (1549-1650) – which started with the arrival in 1549 of St. Francis Xavier (1506-1552) and two other Jesuit missionaries.

The Japanese are “the best that until now has been discovered”

Born to a noble family in Navarre (Spain), Xavier was educated at the University of Paris, the theological center of Europe, where he met the other six co-founders of the Society of Jesus (Jesuits). As an ex-soldier who turned priest, he followed a career path similar to Japanese warriors electing to retire as Buddhist monks. Conversant with the broadest ramifications of civilization in Europe which was then in the throes of the Protestant Reformation (1517-1648), Xavier made one of the first European assessments of the Japanese as an “unknown” people: The Japanese are “the best that until now has been discovered” — “la mejor que hasta aguora esta descubierta.” He found them well-behaved, courteous and kindly. “They esteem honor more than anything … They will stand no insults nor slighting words.”

Having previously evangelized in Jesuit missions of Goa (India), Ceylon (Sri Lanka), Moluccas Islands, Banda Islands, and the Malay Peninsula, which had varying stages of economic development, Xavier thought the Japanese exceeded all non-Europeans — through their goodness, honor, and politeness, and also because they are a “gemte bramqua” (white people) and as such, naturally pre-disposed to Christian conversion. Suddenly, the Jesuit practice of bringing a begging bowl as they preached in South Asia was not quite appropriate in Japan. Over centuries. the Japanese accumulated layers of civilization defining their daily lives, their relations, even their view of death.

“One Diety, One God”

In a land with hundreds of deities, Xavier struggled to find a Japanese word for “One Diety, One God” as the omnipotent and omniscient power over the Universe. He finally settled on “Deusu” — a modification of Deus, the Latin word for God.

Xavier labored in Japan more than two years. All these developments transpired three years before Blessed Justo Takayama Ukon was even born.◘

Dr. Ernesto A. de Pedro
Takayama Trustee

Lord Takayama – Japanese Artist Par Excellence

►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

As a tea-master, Ukon was known as “Minami-no-Bô Takayama Hida no-kami.”

►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

Jibuni” [治部煮] – prepared Kanazawa stylr.
►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.

Japanese Poet

Takayama Ukon mastered the waka. renga and the haiku.

►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.#

By Dr. Ernesto A. de Pedro
Takayama Trustee

‘Blessed Lord Takayama’ – The Opera

The Opera was a Philippines-Japan joint production

►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 Filipino-Japanese cast performed in both Japanese and Philippine cities
A Japanese was cast as the Spanish Governor-General of Manila
The UST student-actors in the cast took a leave for the duration of the performances

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 opera adapted to the available stage — but always, it was a minimalist Cross that servd as backdrop.
The opera incorporated such Philippine cultural features as the “Tinikling Dance” to welcome Lord Takayama to Manila

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. ◘

Dr. Ernesto A. de Pedro
Takayama Trustee