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Japan Is a Nation Rich in Saints and Blessed

The Martyr Church of Japan

►As of 2019, Japan has 42 Japanese Saints and 394 “Beati” (Blessed). All these Catholics venerated in churches around the world, were group martyrs who — except one — were processed 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).

Alone among them, Blessed Takayama was individually promoted and studied at the Congregation for the Causes of Saints (CCS). Originally promoted as a Confessor – necessitating a study of his entire life and heroic virtues since his Baptism on June 1, 1563 — he was later promoted as a Martyr – when Pope Francis issued a Decree of Martyrdom on Jan. 21, 2016, recognizing Takayama as “a layperson … from Japan [who] died from the hatred of the Faith on Feb. 3, 1615 in Manila, Philippines.”

Cardinal Angelo Amato, Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, described the new Blessed as “an extraordinary witness of the Christian faith in difficult times of opposition and persecution.”

As lay promoters of the Canonization Cause of Blessed Takayama, we implore your parishioners to devote a prayer session to study Takayama’s heroic virtues. Pray for him to intercede with God – in the hope God would favor him with his grace.

Blessed Takayama is just ONE miracle away from Canonization.

Despite the shedding of so much martyrs’ blood, Japan remains 99.3% Shinto-Buddhist today – (only ONE in 330 Japanese is Catholic!) — as Pope Francis will find out there are only 509,000 Japanese Catholics when he visits Japan in mid-November, 2019.

The Philippines – Third Largest Catholic Nation in the World

The Philippines, where over 86 per cent of its 102.25 M population profess to be Catholics, has a total of TWO Filipino Saints, THREE Blessed, SIX Venerables, and SIXTEEN (16) Servants of God — over five centuries of Christianity.

With the celebration of the 500th anniversary of Christianity in the Philippines in 2021, focus is intensifying on the many saintly people who have energized the Philippine Church in the past five centuries.#

Dr. Ernesto A. De Pedro
Takayama Trustee

 

Accorded a State Funeral, Did Spanish Government Consider Takayama as a ‘Filipino’

Blessed Takayama Ukon Blessed by Cardinal Tagle
Image of Blessed Justus Ukon Takayama was installed at the PLM University Chapel on June 29, 2019 by Manila Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle. The PLM/Jesuit Compound was where Takayama lived the last 44 days of his life. It was here too where he was entombed till 1889 — when his remains were transferred to the Jesuits’ new San Ignacio Church (II) on Arzobispo St., Intramuros, Manila.

►Banished from his native Japan, settling in Manila with 350 other Christians deportees, Lord Justus Ukon Takayama (1552 Osaka-1615 Manila; beatified 2017) lived the last 44 days of his life as guest of the Jesuits in Intramuros, and was welcomed as a revered Christian of heroic virtue by the Manila Archdiocese.

The Spanish Governor General, Juan de Silva (r.  April 1609 – April 19, 1616) was “a daily visitor” – to the Jesuits’ guesthouse “Casa San Miguel” at the Jesuit Compound (now the Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila [PLM] Campus) in Intramuros where Takayama and his family lived — exploring how Spain might assist the beleaguered Christians in Kyushu – with the assumed military support of the Christian Daimyos in that region. Uh-uh. Ukon replied: You do not understand Japan.

Gov. De Silva was proposing to invade Kyushu with an invasion force of some 6,000 Spanish troops  – under the generalship of Lord Takayama, Japan’s most illustrious Christian samurai. De Silva was under the conceit that one Spaniard was worth 10 Japanese. Wow!

(To understand the martial infrastructure of Japan, when Toyotomi forces (often called the Western Army) battled the Tokugawa Shōgun‘s forces (the Eastern Army) near Osaka on June 5, 1615, Hideyori had 50,000 troops; Tokugawa had 150,000. And Silva proposed to take on Japan through an invasion force of 6,000?)

But Takayama died on Tuesday, Feb. 3, 1615 – ending Gov. De Silva’s ardent hopes to liberate Japan for the Spanish crown.

Did Takayama Die as a Filipino?

►“Filipinos” in Takayama’s time (1614-1615) referred to Spaniards born in the Philippines. The Malays — native born inhabitants of the Philippines (today’s Filipinos) — were called “indio” or “indigenta,” and the ArabsJapaneseHan Chinese and Indians who formed part of the population — were “banyaga” (in Sanskrit, Vanijaka (वणिजक), the word for merchant, trader, foreigner.

Before Takayama arrived on Dec. 21, 1614 with 350 “refugees and migrants,” there were already 3,000 Japanese – mostly in Paco, San Roque (in Cavite) and Agoo, La Union. This, according to the first census in the Philippines in 1591, based on tributes collected.

(The tributes count the total founding population of Spanish-Philippines as 667,612 people, of which: some 20,000 were Chinese migrant traders, at different times: around 16,500 individuals were Latino soldier-colonists who were cumulatively sent from Peru and Mexico and they were shipped to the Philippines annually; some 3,000 were Japanese residents, and about 600 were pure Spaniards from Europe. There was also a large but unknown number of Indian Filipinos. The rest of the population were Malays and Negritos. Thus, with merely 667,612 people, during this era, the Philippines was among the most sparsely populated lands in Asia. In contrast, Japan during that era (the 1500s) already had a population of 8 Million, compared to the Philippine’s mere 600,000.)

Though not a “Filipino,” Takayama was certainly a Japanese-born Manila Catholic – absorbed into the Manila Archdiocese. Under the Church’s rubrics, “where a person dies is where he is born to Heaven.” By that was meant that, the Manila Archdiocese considered Ukon as a “Son of Manila” – a Manila Catholic – and therefore, proceeded to propose Ukon to the Vatican as the first candidate for sainthood from the Manila Archdiocese.#

Dr. Ernesto A. de Pedro
Takayama Trustee

 

Homily on the Blessing of Statue of Blessed Justo Ukon Takayama at Sts. Peter & Paul Church, Wilmington, CA, June 29, 2019

Wilmington, CA Catholic Church
Saints Peter and Paul Catholic Church (SPPC) in WilmingtonCalifornia, USA

►The SPPC Pastor, Rev. Fr. Hildebrand Garceau, O.Praem. notes: “Today, we honor Justo Ukon Takayama as recently beatified, a saint who joins the two countries of Japan and the Philippines in a bond of Christian peace.”

Happy feast day!

Welcome to our honored and special guests from the Japanese Catholic community and the Filipino community.

◘ St. Peter’s imprisonment guarded by 16 soldiers, but prayers by the Church brought 1 Angel, who set him free.

◘ St. Paul’s last letter to Timothy,

>>>Now an old man and living in Rome

>>>St. Peter also in Rome

>>>Both caring for the Christian community there, having suffered many times for Christ with imprisonments and beatings.

As St. Peter had professed to Jesus years before “You are the Christ the Son of the living God”, so now after years of preaching, working miracles, baptizing, and caring for the Christian communities, they have been putting into practice the profession of faith.

III. Tradition tells us that there in Rome, about the year 67AD both died as martyrs, witnesses to their faith in the Lord Jesus. St. Peter’s Basilica is built over St. Peter’s tomb. His successor, Pope Francis, lives in a house nearby. St. Paul died just outside the city near the monastery of Tre Fontane.

►We wear red today because both of these Princes of Apostles died as martyrs. The Church has a long tradition of venerating men and women who died for the faith. For 300 years after Jesus’ Resurrection, the Church was persecuted throughout the Mediterranean area, the Roman Empire.

In the following centuries, other persecutions occurred in different countries throughout the world, with many giving their lives in witness to their faith in Christ. England had many martyrs in the 16th century, France in the 18th century, Uganda in the 19th century, Russia, China, Spain and Mexico in the 20th. All gave up their lives rather than give up their faith. As a result, in many cases, the Church began to flourish in these areas after these periods of persecution. This fulfills a famous saying of the Church Father Tertullian, “The blood of the martyrs is the seed of Christians.”

St. Francis Xavier, the great Jesuit missionary brought the faith to Japan in the 1550’s and converted many people. However, in later years the local authorities sought to wipe out the Catholic faith by stripping Catholics of their property and making them live in poverty. In 1597, the first Japanese died for the faith. More persecutions followed, but the faith continued to grow in Japan.

Fr. Hildebrand Garceau, SPPC. Wilmington, CA
A Japanese congregation from “St. Francis Xavier Chapel – Maryknoll Japanese Catholic Center” (established on Dec. 25, 1912), pastored by Fr. Doan Hoang (a Japanese-speaking Vietnamese-American Jesuit) joined the SPPC parishioners. Japanese nuns of Poor Clare Missionary Sisters based in Los Angeles also attended.

Among the early converts to Catholicism in Japan was Justo Ukon Takayama (高山右近). He was baptized with the other members of his family in 1563. His family belonged to the nobility, and when he was 21 he was made feudal governor of Takatsuki. He was a great Samurai warrior, an able governor, and a saintly Christian. Like the holy Apostles, Justo proclaimed the faith of Christ, especially among Japanese Buddhists, and he made many converts, including other noble persons. When he went out to battle, he rode under the sign of the Cross.

During his lifetime in Japan, three separate persecutions broke out against Christians. Justo was fortunate to escape with his life and he continued to make converts by his winning personality and fervor for the faith. Pope Sixtus V heard of Justo’s evangelical missionary work and sent him a letter with the Apostolic blessing in 1590.

Finally, in the third persecution, which broke out in 1614, Justo was given the ultimatum: renounce his Catholic faith or be deported. He fled to Manila late that same year and died of his mistreatment early in 1615 in Manila. As Pope Francis described Ukon in the Decree of Martyrdom he issued Jan. 21, 2016: Justo Ukon Takayama was a “layperson … from Japan [who] died from the hatred of the Faith on Feb. 3, 1615 in Manila, Philippines.”

Sts. Peter & Paul Church Blessing of Takayama Statue
The SPPC Filipino Choir sang the Jesuit Music Ministry’s new Takayama song, “Mabunying Samurai” (Happy Warrior) — the first time in church.

Today, we honor him as recently beatified, a saint who joins the two countries of Japan and the Philippines in a bond of Christian peace.

Let us pray for the continued growth of our Catholic faith both here and among our countrymen of the Far East.#

Blessed Takayama Augurs Well for Future of Philippine-Japanese Relations – Japanese Ambassador Koji Haneda

“Today’s unveiling of Blessed Takayama’s statue and historical markers is an initiative that will resurrect memories of the common history we share… We sincerely hope that the installation of the statue and markers of Blessed Takayama Ukon here will attract more Japanese tourists to take part in history-walks around Intramuros.” — Ambassador Koji Haneda

TAKAYAMA STATUE AT PLM CHAPEL
Manila Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle blesses the altar-statue of Blessed Takayama at the PLM University Chapel on June 29, 2019

Remarks of Ambassador Koji Haneda

*Delivered at the installation of a statue of Blessed Takayama on June 29, 2019 — with Japanese missionaries in the Metro-Manila in attendance.

Magandang hapon po sa inyong lahat.

I am pleased to join you this afternoon in honoring Blessed Takayama Ukon with the unveiling of his statue and historical markers at the Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila.

The name Takayama Ukon is well known in Japanese history school textbooks as a Christian landlord who abandoned his status and devoted himself to his faith. However, it’s not so well known that he was exiled in the Philippines. Where we are now is the place he was allowed to stay until he passed away in 1615. Today’s unveiling of his statue and historical markers is an initiative that will resurrect memories of the common history we share. I would like to thank all those who have engaged in this historic gesture.

We’ve Come a Long Way Since Takayama Arrived

Japan and the Philippines’ partnership has come a long way since the era of Blessed Takayama Ukon. Our cooperative bond has expanded beyond trade, investment, and development matters—encompassing wider cultural and people-to-people exchanges, including tourism. The number of Filipino visitors to Japan increased sixfold to 504,000 over the last six years and is still growing. Likewise, Japanese visitors to the Philippines are on the rise, reaching 631,000 in 2018.

ambassador haneda
Ambassador Koji Haneda receives Plaque of Apprciation on behalf of the “Takayama ·Ukon ·& ·His ·Wife ·Honoring ·Association” (高山右近夫妻顕彰会) of Toyono-cho (Osaka Prefecture, Japan), which gifted the PLM with the Takayama statue

In a sense, Blessed Takayama Ukon was among the pioneering Japanese visitors to the Philippines. When he arrived here over four centuries ago, I am sure he was welcomed with the warmest Filipino hospitality. Unbeknown to Blessed Takayama Ukon, he may have helped plant a seed of friendship that has grown a lot in time. Forty years have passed since the Sister City Partnership was forged between the Cities of Manila and Takatsuki in Osaka—the place where Blessed Takayama Ukon ruled as landlord. In addition, Toyono Town in Osaka, his birthplace, has been accepting Filipino English teachers since last year through the Japanese government’s Japan Exchange and Teaching Programme. These are definitely sterling examples of a bond worth emulating.

Christianity … Is ‘Our Shared History’

It now seems that, through Christianity, Japan and the Philippines may be able to revisit our shared history. Last year, the “Hidden Christian” Sites in the Nagasaki Region were registered as UNESCO World Heritage. Nagasaki is the place where St. Lorenzo Ruiz, the first Filipino and Asian Saint, died as a martyr. As such, we are positive that this could spark interest and encourage more Filipinos to visit Nagasaki. In the same way, we sincerely hope that the installation of the statue and markers of Blessed Takayama Ukon here will attract more Japanese tourists to take part in history-walks around Intramuros.

TWO BRONZE TAKAUAMA MARKERS AT PLM CHAPEL
Two markers — in English and Kanji — explain the historical importance of the PLM/Jesuit Compound. These were unveiled by Ambassador Haneda and the Apostolic Nuncio Gabriele Giordano Caccia, Dean of the Diplomatic Corps

Finally, I would like to reiterate my deepest gratitude to everyone who has endeavoured to make today’s event possible. With people like you, we can be certain of an even brighter future for the close friendship between Japan and the Philippines.

Maraming salamat at mabuhay po kayo.#

“We Are Now Learning the [Japanese] Language like Little Children” – St. Francis Xavier

“We are now learning the [Japanese] language like little children” – Childlikeness and learning within the context of the early modern Jesuit mission to Japan

 Dr. Pia Maria Jolliffe
The Nissan Institute of Japanese Studies, University of Oxford

Learning, education and inculturation were very important to the early modern Jesuit mission to Japan. From the beginning, the Jesuits admired the high level of education in Japan. The missionaries knew that they had to learn from Japan if they wanted the Japanese people to develop a real desire to learn from them.

St. Francis Xavier

St. Francis Xavier
A Japanese depiction of Saint Francis Xavier, dated to the 17th century, held in the Kobe City Museum.  St. Francis was the greatest Roman Catholic missionary of modern times who was instrumental in the establishment of Christianity in India, the Malay Archipelago, and Japan.

After Francis Xavier [1506-1552] arrived with his companions on 15 August 1549 in Kagoshima, he lived for a while with a Japanese family and studied Japanese customs. Five letters sent by Xavier from Kagoshima to Rome have survived and have been confirmed as authentic. They are all dated 5 November 1549. Learning emerges as an important theme in all these letters. Xavier admired the Japanese people for their highly developed culture. So, he urged his Jesuit companions to adapt a humble approach to their missionary work:

“May it please God our Lord to grant us a knowledge of the language so that we can speak to them of the things of God, for we shall then, with his grace, favour, and assistance, produce much fruit. We are now like so many statues among them, since they speak and talk much about us, while we, not understanding their language, are mute. We are now learning the language like little children, and may it please God that we may imitate them in their simplicity and purity of mind. We are forced to employ the means and to dispose ourselves to be like them, both in learning the language and in imitating the simplicity of small and innocent children.” (Xavier 1992: 306)

This comparison between the learning Jesuit and little children is very interesting. Probably, Xavier thought of the evangelical simplicity and childlikeness: “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 18: 3-4)

The first elementary school for young children was opened in 1561 in Ōita. Another elementary school was opened in 1562 in Yokoseura. (Schilling 1931: 30)

Fr. Luis Frois, SJ

Fr. Luis Frois, SJ
Statue of Fr. Luís Fróis, SJ,  in Yokoseura Park ©Nishimura Yuka

In the same year, 1562, Fr. Luís Fróis [1532-1597] arrived in Japan. It is quite likely that he had read Xavier’s letters during his novitiate in Goa.

After 23 years as a missionary in Japan, the mature Froís drafted in 1585 his Tratado, which is today considered the earliest systematic comparison of Japanese and European cultures. There is a whole chapter “Concerning children and their customs” which includes several observations concerning learning.

For example, distich 6 says:

“Among us, a four-year old child still does not know how to eat with his own hands; in Japan a three-year old already eats by himself using chopsticks.” (Fróis 2015: 84)

Or distich 8 says:

“Among us, one learns to read and write from secular teachers; in Japan, they all learn at the temple-schools of the Buddhist monks.” (Fróis 2015: 85)

Distich 9: “Our children learn first to read and then to write; in Japan they commence with writing and then learn to read.” (Fróis 2015: 86)

Distich 13: “Our children have little command and excellence in their manners; children in Japan are exceedingly thorough in their manners, so much that they are amazing.” (Fróis 2015: 87)

It is noteworthy how positively Fróis evaluates Japanese children. Compared to their European counterparts – the Portuguese children Fróis may have been familiar with – Japanese children seemed to the missionary well mannered, dexterous and relaxed when performing in the presence of others. This positive interpretation of Japanese customs and behaviour can be found throughout the Tratado.

Fr. Alessandro Valignano, Jesuit Superior General

Fr. Alessandro Valiugnano, SJ
Fr. Alessandro Valignano helped introduce Christianity to the Far East, especially to Japan

Alessandro Valignano [1539-1606], the famous Visitador, also had a high opinion of the quality of learning in Japan. Like Fróis he noted how quickly Japanese children were learning:

“People are very able and of good understanding; and the children are very able to learn all our sciences and disciplines (…) and they learn to read and write in our language much easier and in less time than our children in Europe.” (Valignano 1899: 92)

St. Francis Xavier
St. Francis Xavier, Apostle of the Far East

Moreover, like Xavier, Valignano suggested that Jesuits need to develop a childlike approach towards their new life in Japan:

“However prudent and wise they may be, people find themselves in Japan like children and ignorant, in the kind of way that it is necessary for them to learn how to talk, how to sit down, how to walk, how to eat and to do a thousand other new things. These things seem at the beginning very strange and foolish, however, later they seem good.” (Valignano 1899: 110)

In this way, Valignano challenged generational power relations by acknowledging that mature Jesuits will find themselves “like children and ignorant” when learning to adapt themselves to Japanese culture.#

References

Fróis, Luís. 2015. The First European Description of Japan, 1585. A Critical English-language Edition of Striking Contrasts in the Customs of Europe and Japan by Luís Fróis, S.J. London & New York: Routledge.

Schilling, Konrad. 1931. Das Schulwesen der Jesuiten in Japan (1551-1614). Münster: Druck der Regensbergschen Buchdruckerei.

Valignano, Alessandro. 1899. Monumenta Xaveriana. Ex autographis vel ex antiquioribus exemplis collecta. Matriti: Typis Augustini Avrial.

Xavier, Francis. 1992. The letters and instructions of Francis Xavier. Translated and introduced by M. Joseph Costelloe. St. Louis: Institute of Jesuit Sources.#

A ‘New’ Takayama Bronze, 1966 – To Add to Our Gallery

►The most celebrated bronze of Dom Justo Ukon Takayama (高山右近), 1552-1615; beatified 2017), is the “Samurai of Christ” that stands as the centerpiece of the Philippines-Japan Friendship Park at Plaza Dilao, Paco, Manila. This was the work of the Japanese Catholic convert, Johannes Masaaki Nishimori, who trained in Italy and made his first sculpture there. Returning to Japan, he established the “Atelier Pisano.”

The Takayama statue at Plaza Dilao, inaugurated on Nov. 17, 1977,  was actually the FOURTH bronze made by Nishimori.

The original was erected ● at the Shiroato Historical Park in Takatsuki City (Osaka Prefecture) in 1972.

Other Takayama “twins” are ● at Kojyo Park in Takaoka (Toyama Prefecture) – whose castle had been repaired by Lord Takayama while he was in the employ of the Maeda clan, and in ● Takamatsu – at the entrance of the Shodoshima Sonosho Catholic Church of St. Teresa of the Child Jesus.

►Then there’s the famous mounted Samurai-General.

►But a “new” one – not yet seen at Google/Images — is that sculpted by Yasutake Funakoshi (舟越 保武, 1912–2002), the Japanese artist who created the sculptures of the “Twenty-six Martyrs of Japan “ from 1958 to 1962, and later the “Hara-no-Jo “(原の城, Christian samurai).

For the landmark sculpture, he was awarded the “Takamura Kōtarō Prize “ (高村光太郎賞受賞). The Pope bestowed on the 1950 Catholic convert the Order of St. Gregory the Great in 1964.

For the latter sculpture he received the Nakahara-Teijirō-Prize (中原悌二郎賞) in 1972.

Bronze by Yasutake Funakoshi

►In 1966 — four years after his work at the the “26 Martyrs’ Shrine” at Nagasaki was completed — Funakoshi made a bronze of Dom Justo Ucondono measuring 80 cm (31.5 inches). Funakoshi shows a pensive Takayama wearing, not a katana, but a crucifix. He seems to be past all worldly worries, with an eye cast — not on the current persecutions that befell him or the forthcoming exile to Manila that was his fate — but on the great beyond.#

Takayama Ukon
Bronze statue of Dom Justo Ucondono by Yasutake Funakoshi
Ukon Takayama by Y. Funakoshi
Ukon Takayama by Yasutake Funakoshi

’26 Martyrs’ Shrine’ at Nagasaki

►The bronze sculptures at the “26 Martyrs’ Shrine” in Nagasaki were created by Yasutake Funakoshi from 1958 to 1962.#

Dr. Ernesto A. de Pedro
Takayama Trustee

Tokyo Cathedral Installs Altar-Statue of Blessed Takayama

►An altar-statue of the celebrated “Samurai of Christ,” Justo Ukon Takayama (1552-1615, beatified 2017) was installed on Sunday, May 12, 2019, at St. Mary’s Cathedral, Tokyo by Archbishop Tarcisius Isao Kikuchi, SVD. (*Credit for photos:  Maria KasuyaJan Michael AcaylarPuchie Gan, Chino Manding Caddarao, Atsushi  Wakamatsu and Carmen Agnes Canafranca Wakamatsu).
St. Mary's Cathedral, Tokyop Japan
St. Mary’s Cathedral, Tokyo, Japan

►Lord Justo Ukon Takayama (高山右近) — then already in domestic exile in Kanazawa, capital of Ishikawa Prefecture, on Japan’s central Honshu Island — was deported by the Tokugawa Shogunate to the Philippines in 1614 for refusing to abjure his Catholic faith. Ukon arrived with his wife, Doña Justa Kuroda Takayama, his married daughter Lucia Yokoyama, and five grandsons, 8 to 16  (all surnamed Takayama) with the first boatload of 350 “refugees and migrants” deported from Japan, docking in Manila on Sunday, Dec. 21, 1614 — to a warm welcome from Manilans.

Only 44 days after his arrival in Manila, Takayama died – “martyred” in the reckoning of the Church – on Feb. 3, 1615.

He was the first Manila Catholic to be proposed for sainthood by the Manila Archdiocese in 1630. He was declared “Servant of God” in 1994. And was beatified by authority of Pope Francis in 2017.

►Blessed Takayama is the Philippine Church’s THIRD “Beatus” (Blessed) — and Japan’s 436th Martyr.

Though there are “over a hundred” different artistic representations of him (*check out Google/Images under “Takayama Ukon”), the Takayama image presented to the Tokyo Cathedral was based on the Takayama statue that was erected as the centerpiece of the Philippines-Japan Friendship Park in Plaza Dilao, Manila in 1977. The version carved by the renowned Paete artist, Paloy Cagayat, shows the “Samurai of Christ,” Ukon Takayama. in a pose associated with St. Ignatius (1491- 1556) — offering his sword in the service of Christ.

►The altar-statue for Tokyo Cathedral, produced by the Prayer Warriors of Blessed Takayama, was sponsored by “The Gathering of Filipino Groups and Communities” (GFGC) in the Archdiocese of Tokyo, chaired by Dr. Maria Carmelita Kasuya, Research Associate Professor at the University of Tokyo since 2001.

►It is the apostolate of the Prayer Warriors of Blessed Takayama in Manila to spread to Catholic parishes worldwide the Takayama statues and figurines (*shown being presented to Pope Francis by Fr. Renzo de Luca, SJ, Father Provincial of the Jesuits in Japan) – as an aid to evoking the memory of this Catholic of heroic virtue, who died a martyr in Manila – the first Manila Catholic to be proposed for sainthood in the Philippine Church.

Welcome to St. Mary’s Cathedral

►Tokyo Archbishop Tarcisius Isao Kikuchi, SVD, welcomed parishioners and their guests to the Tokyo Cathedral.

Ushered in by children with flowers and candles

►Children with flowers and candles ushered the procession of four Filipino parishioners who carried the Takayama statue into the Tokyo Cathedral.

Processional

Four Filipinos were chosen to escort the Takayama altar-statue to the High Altar. Left: Jan Michael Acaylar, Right: Leroy Llorente. Back Left: Manny Rosario, Right: Chino Manding Caddarao.

Tokyo Cathedral

Tokyo Cathedral

On Vocation Sunday

►As May 12, 2019 was Vocation Sunday, there was a large complement of priests during the Takayama installation.

Takayama Ukon

Takayama Hymn ‘To the End’ Was Sung

►The words and music of the Takayama Ukon hymn were written  by Jay Gomez (of the Jesuit Ministry of Music, Manila)

“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.”

Bridge:

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!#

“To the End Hymn”was sung by 💥Soloist Redd Sumpaico (from Himig Koenji), with 💥Puchie Velez on the piano.

Prayer-Card(‘Estampitas’) in Japanese and English

►The Takayama Intercessory Prayer, composed by Fr. Johannes Laures, SJ in the 1940s — was printed with an image painted by the late Noel Velez, a Takayama devotee who painted a number of Takayama images — and distributed to the congregation.

Memento Photos

Takayama

Tokyo Cathedral

Takayama

Takayama

Takayama
The Japanese journalist, Atsushi Wakamatsu (at right), has followed the trail of Dom Justo Ukon Takayama since 1986. As Manila bureau chief of a Japanese newspaper, he heard about a research project to document the historical Takayama. He funded the round-trip ticket of Dr. Ernesto A. de Pedro to the Vatican Archives. Was Takayama a myth? Was Ukon a composite of many Japanese Christians? The answer: In 1630, the Vatican received a petition from the Manila Archdiocese for Takayama’s sainthood.

Concelebrated Mass, Presided by Archbishop Kikuchi

►The Filipino community in Tokyo attended the installation.

Homily of Archbishop Tarcisio Isao Kikuchi, SVD

►As we begin today’s Mass for Vocation Sunday, we will first have the blessing of the statue of Blessed Justo Takayama Ukon which will be brought to the altar with a procession by our brothers and sisters from the Philippines. Later, this statue of the blessed martyr will be placed at the rear portion of this Cathedral.

As you know, Takayama Ukon was a warlord (daimyo) who refused to abandon his religion even though the repression of Christianity became increasingly severe, leading him to give up so much.

After Toyotomi Hideyoshi issued an edict expelling the foreign missionaries, Ukon chose to give up all his possessions in exchange for protecting his faith. In 1614, during the time of Tokugawa Ieyasu, he was expelled to Manila, and on the following year, died there on the 3rd of February 1615. Ukon had to let go of everything, including leaving his own motherland, only to keep the faith, thus, the Church considers him a martyr, and beatified him in 2017.

There is a reason why our brothers and sisters from the Philippines brought this statue here. Blessed Takayama Ukon, who died in Manila, is venerated even in the Philippines, and a statue of him is also erected in Manila. The Filipinos have become a moving force in the Cause for the beatification and canonization of Takayama Ukon — researching, praying together for his canonization, and collecting donations from different church communities.

Today, we receive this statue as a gift, but it would not have been possible for this statue to be shipped and brought into this cathedral without the great efforts of our Filipino communities in the Archdiocese of Tokyo. I would like to express my gratitude to all of you, especially for shouldering all the expenses.

I believe it is fitting that Blessed Takayama Ukon is honored in this Mass for Vocation Sunday. A Japanese who has been beatified, had crossed borders, transcended cultures, and to date is venerated in the Philippines, tells a lot about the universality of the Church.

With the Philippine Church accepting Takayama Ukon as a brother of the same Christian faith during his last days and until now honors his life with respect, further strengthens the ties between the Japanese church and the Philippine church.

At the same time, as we support each other, we affirm each other in the life of faith.

It also teaches us clearly that our faith has universal value transcending cultures and nationalities.

For this year’s World Day of Vocations, Pope Francis released a message entitled “The Courage to Take a Risk for God’s Promise.” The Pope pointed out that responding to the call of Jesus is a big challenge in life as he states, “Every vocation is a summons not to stand on the shore, nets in hand, but to follow Jesus on the path he has marked out for us, for our own happiness and for the good of those around us.”

Responding to Jesus’ call does not mean that you stay in a safe place and do nothing. It is not an easy task but it involves putting ourselves on the line and continue facing the challenge with great courage. The Pope continues to say that, “embracing this promise naturally demands the courage to risk making a decision… Responding to the Lord’s call involves putting ourselves on the line and facing a great challenge with our whole body and spirit.”

The very life of Takayama Ukon is truly about “putting oneself on the line and confronting great challenges with courage.” Even if he loses his position and fame in the society at that time, his attitude to keep faith is firm and strong. He could have made a compromise somewhere, and he would have walked his life without much trouble. However, Takayama Ukon did not make that choice. I think that the life of Takayama Ukon was a life that had the courage to continue facing challenges and holding on to his decision to respond to the call of the Lord.

Just as the Pope himself mentioned in his message, when we speak of vocations today, it is not limited only with priests and religious. Every Christian has his own vocation. Therefore facing challenges with courage is not only for special persons with specific roles, but rather a necessity for all Christians. The Pope writes: “I think of the decision to marry in Christ and to form a family, as well as all those other vocations associated with work and professional life, with the commitment to charity and solidarity, with social and political responsibilities, and so forth. These vocations make us bearers of a promise of goodness, love and justice.”

Today is Good Shepherd Sunday and the gospel states, “My sheep hear my voice.” In order for us to continue with courage the path we have chosen, we need a strong, loving Shepherd. To follow that Good Shepherd, we must know His voice. Do we really know the voice of the Good Shepherd? Do we know how to distinguish His voice? Here we find meaning in imitating the life of the saints, our predecessors in the faith. The saints who bravely lived the faith are those who have truly heard and followed the voice of the Good Shepherd. Therefore, as we learn from their way of life and try to live up to that model, we can begin to follow the path of listening to the voice of the Good Shepherd as they did.

As we receive today the gift of the statue of Blessed Justo Takayama Ukon, I believe it is appropriate that it coincides with the celebration of Vocation Sunday. Let us learn from Justo Takayama Ukon, who heard the voice of the Good Shepherd and followed Him and we pray for his intercession that like him we may also hear the voice of the Good Shepherd.#

Last Word from Archbishop Kikuchi:

“During today’s Vocation Sunday Mass, a statue of Blssed Takayama Ukon donated by our Filipino friends in Manila was blessed. Grateful to our Filipino community in the Archdiocese.”

世界召命祈願ミサの中で、マニラの方々から寄贈された福者高山右近の像を祝福しました。寄贈にあたって協力くださった東京教区内のフィリピン共同体の皆さんに感謝いたします。

Dr. Ernesto A. de Pedro
Takayama Trustee

Jesuit Music Ministry Composes New Tagalog Hymn for Blessed Takayama

►🎼🎵🎶 •♫**• With lyrics by Fr. Tim Ofrasio, SJ, and music by Dom Joseph Bulan, SJ, it is the FIRST Takayama Tagalog hymn to reach us this year. •♫**• 🎶🎵🎶

"Tinig Barangka" Choir, Manila
“Tinig Barangka,” which recorded “Mabunying Samurai” under JMM Director Lester Mendiola

“Mabunying Samurai” (Awit kay Justo Ukon Takayama)
By Tim Ofrasio, SJ – Dom Bulan, SJ

►1. Sumikat na araw sa bukang liwayway
Nagsabog ng liwanag sa kalupaan
Justo Ukon Takayama, maginoong banal
Daimyo’t samurai na kahanga-hanga.
►2. Di nag-atubiling lahat ay talikdan
Mawala pati yaman, dangal ng ngalan,
Kanya mang iwanan bayang niliyag
Pagka-Kristiano niya’y tunay na ipahayag.
KORO: Nawa’y buong tapang din naming harapin
Lahat ng pagsubok sa buhay namin
Tulad ng halimbawang lingkod ng Ama
O dakilang Justo Ukon Takayama.
►3. Mistulang martir na nagbuwis ng buhay
Alang-alang kay Kristong tagapag-akay
Huwarang Samurai na matapang at tapat
Kay Kristong Hari gantimpala’y ganap.
KORO: Naway buong tapang din namin harapin
Lahat ng pagsubok sa buhay namin
Tulad ng halimbawang lingkod ng Ama.
O dakilang Justo Ukon Takayama. #

►The Jesuit Music Ministry (JMM) – an arm of Jesuit Communications Philippines (JesCom) directed by Fr. Emmanuel Alfonso, SJ — 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.#

Lyrics by Fr. Tim Ofrasio, SJ

►The lyricist, Fr. Tim Ofrasio. SJ, writes: “I was requested by Fr. Manoling Francisco, SJ, the renowned Jesuit composer — for lyrics for a proposed song for Blessed Takayama.

“I had no inspiration whatsoever, but still tried to research his life history. I prayed to him to help me write verses on his life and sacrifice. The inspiration I received was about the Jesus Christ as the true rising Sun, and the fidelity of this noble samurai to his Lord, the true rising Sun. I was also touched by Takayama’s willingness to turn his back from his lofty position and earthly honors in order to stand for his faith in Jesus Christ, to the point of leaving his homeland in order to remain faithful to his Lord.

“In this sense, he faced martyrdom, albeit unbloody, but nonetheless painful. Thus the lyrics of the hymn.”

Music by Dom Bulan, SJ

►The composer, Dom Joseph Bulan, SJ [Dom Bulan], writes: “It was really a fruit of collaboration since we received the request to come up with the hymn from Lester Mendiola of Jesuit Music Ministry. (It was actually one of your [Dr. Ernesto A. de Pedro’s] emails where you attached some prayers and information about his life).

“I asked Fr. Tim if he could come up with the lyrics for the hymn, and he gladly came up with it.

“I was the one who wrote the music for the piece, and in the process solicited some suggestions from Fr. Manoling Francisco, SJ (of the Jesuit Music Ministry, who has composed over 150 songs that are sung all over the world) and Fr. Arnel Aquino, SJ., Assistant Professor of Systematic Theology, who has written 18 songs for the JMM, among them, “Pagsibol” and “Ito Ang Araw.”

‘Tinig Barangka’

►Among the Jesuit Music Ministry’s many choirs, it was “Tinig Barangka,” which recorded “Mabunying Samurai” under JMM Director Lester Mendiola. “Tinig Barangka” started singing during the 70’s under Fr. Eduardo Hontiveros, SJ, as the “Barangka Choir” and later changed into “Tinig Barangka.” Composed by professionals and students whose mission is to spread God’s love through the songs, the choir started singing in concerts of the 70’s like “Purihi’t Pasalamatan,” “Hesus na Aking Kapatid,” “Talinghaga” — which promoted Filipino liturgical music. “Tinig Barangka” has worked with numerous conductors and composers, including ● Fr. Eduardo Hontiveros, SJ, ● Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle, ●  Fr. Nemie Que, SJ, ● Fr. Fruto Ramirez, SJ, ● Fr. Tim Ofrasio, SJ, ● Fr. Manoling Francisco, SJ, and ● Fr. Arnel Aquino, SJ. Today “Tinig Barangka” continues to usher out the quality standards of liturgical music with the passion of serving God and His people.

Entrance of PLM University Chapel (Intramuros, Manila)
Japanese pilgrims visit the PLM University Chapel which stands in the PLM/Jesuit Compound where Lord Justo Ukon Takayama lived for 44 days — before passing away on Feb. 3, 1615. Ukon was entombed in this compound — until their transfer to the new Jesuit church — San Ignacio Church-II — on Arzobispo St. in Intramuros.

First Church Rendition

►On Saturday, June 29 – feast day of St. Peter & St. Paul — “Mabunying Samurai” will be sung for the first time at two related events — in Manila and in Wilmington, California: ◘ The installation of Blessed Takayama at the PLM University Chapel by Manila Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle, and ◘ The installation of Blessed Takayama at the St. Peter & Sr. Paul Catholic Church in Wilmington, California at 5 PM (California time) – by Rev. Fr. Hildebrand Garceau, O.Praem.#

Dr. Ernesto A. de Pedro
Takayama Trustee

Five Occasions Pope Francis Weighed in on Blessed Takayama

At 21, Lord Takayama became Daimyo of Takatsuki. Here, a majority of his retainers and subjects became Catholics – in a land that had for millennia been a Shinto-Buddhist country
At 21, Lord Takayama became Daimyo of Takatsuki. Here, a majority of his retainers and subjects became Catholics – in a land that had for millennia been a Shinto-Buddhist country

►When the celebrated “Samurai of Christ,” Justo Ukon Takayama (高山右近, 1552-1615) was declared a “Servant of God” on June 5, 1994, the Pope then was Pope John Paul II (r. 1978-2005).

Alone among the Church of Japan’s candidates for sainthood, Dom Justo Takayama had been processed as a Confessor – a Catholic of heroic virtue. Which meant every aspect of his life from the day of his baptism had to be studied, requiring many years – perhaps even decades.

In 2008, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Japan (CBCJ) thought Martyrdom was the faster way to proceed with the “Cause of Takayama.” So the CBCJ petitioned the Congregation for the Causes of Saints (CCS) to pursue the next canonical step to sainthood — as a Martyr. During the preparation for the beatification of “188 Japanese Martyrs (1603-1639)” in Nagasaki in November 2008, they proposed the reclassification.

But the CCS was not inclined at that time to declare a Manila Catholic, who died in bed with by his father-confessor at his bedside, and surrounded by family and friends — as a Martyr. The theology of martyrdom had not yet been reexamined to include such candidates.

In 2013, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Japan submitted a revised application for the beatification of Takayama – as a Martyr.

‘Build on the Legacy of Your Martyrs’

◘ On March 20,  2015 — Pope Francis, in his message to Japanese Bishops during their “ad Limina” visit to the Vatican, urged them to build on the legacy of their martyrs – numbering 42 Saints and 393 Blessed.  Dom Justo Ukon Takayama, a pillar of the early Jesuit missions in Japan was, at this time, a “Servant of God” — the first rung in the ladder to sainthood.

Decree of Martyrdom

◘ On Jan 21, 2016 – Pope Francis issued a “Decree of Martyrdom,” paving the way for Takayama’s immediate beatification.

“Since Takayama died in exile because of the weaknesses caused by the maltreatments he suffered in his homeland, the process for beatification is that of a martyr,” Fr. Anton Witwer, SJ, General Postulator of the Society of Jesus, explained. Takayama’s life exemplifies the Christian example of “a great fidelity to the Christian vocation, persevering despite all difficulties,” Father Witwer continued.

The Japanese Bishops quickly shared the information with Manila and acknowledged the help given by the Philippine Church to this four-centuries old campaign to elevate Takayama to the honors of the altar:“With your help, we have realized our hope. We are deeply thankful for your help.”

osakajo
The Takayama Beatification Rites were held in Osaka on Feb. 7, 2017 – with Cardinal Angelo Amato, SDB, representing Pope Francis

‘An Extraordinary Witness of the Christian Faith’

◘ On Feb. 8, 2017 (the day AFTER the beatification rites of Blessed Takayama in Osaka), Pope Francis reflected on Ukon during his weekly General Audience in the Vatican’s Paul VI Hall:

“Yesterday, in Osaka, Japan, Justo Takayama Ukon, loyal Japanese layman, who was martyred in Manila in 1615, was beatified.”

The Holy Father said: “Rather than compromise, Ukon renounced honors and prosperity and accepted humiliation and exile. He remained faithful to Christ and to the Gospel; for this, he is a wonderful example of strength in the faith and dedication in charity.”

“Ukon succeeded in bringing many people to Christ, primarily powerful samurai families… In 1587, however, Hideyoshi decided to eliminate what was described as “the religion of the West.” Torture, abjurations and violence pushed the majority of the Christian neophytes to abandon the faith. Ukon, however, resisted. Willing to face death and humiliation but not to renounce Christianity, he surrendered his fief and military honors into the hands of the Kampaku [Imperial Regent].

“In Japan, his homeland, Ukon also left a trace that endures up to today. Before going into exile, he contributed to the foundation of several seminaries in the Nagasaki area, small communities that had the task to keep the Christian flame lighted in the course of the centuries. Nagasaki is, still today, the area in which the greatest number of followers of Christ is concentrated.

“The memory of Justus Takayama Ukon always remained alive in them. Already in the 17thcentury, thanks to the clergy of Manila, an attempt was made to beatify ‘Christ’s samurai.’ However, because of the isolationist policy of the Tokugawa shogunate, it was impossible to obtain the necessary documents for the canonical investigation.

“There was a second attempt in 1965 — frustrated, however, by some errors of form in the preparation of the cause.

“Finally yesterday, Justus’ beatification became a reality. Cardinal Angelo Amato, Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, celebrated the Mass at Osaka.” AsiaNews reported that Cardinal Amato described the new Blessed as “an extraordinary witness of the Christian faith in difficult times of opposition and persecution.”

Blessed Justus is the first individually-processed candidate to receive the honors of the altar in the history of Japanese Catholicism. Japan has in fact 42 Saints and 393 Blessed, all martyrs of the Edo period (1603-1867) and all celebrated as a group. “These martyrs bless the Japanese Church with their splendid witness,” said Cardinal Amato.

‘Whenever I think of Japan, my thoughts turn to the witness of your many martyrs’

◘ On Sept. 14, 2017 – Pope Francis sent a message to Japanese Bishops through Cardinal Fernando Filoni, Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples.

>>>Pope Francis: “Whenever I think of the Church in Japan, my thoughts return to the witness of the many martyrs who have offered their lives for the faith. They always have a special place in my heart: I think of ● St. Paul Miki and his companions, who in 1597 were sacrificed, faithful to Christ and the Church; I think of the innumerable confessors of faith, ● Blessed Justus Takayama Ukon, who at the same time preferred poverty and the path of exile rather than recanting the name of Jesus.

“And what about the so-called ‘hidden Christians,’ who from 1600 to the mid-1800s lived underground, not to recant, but to preserve their faith, and of which we recently remembered the 150th anniversary of the discovery? The long line of martyrs and confessors of faith, by nationality, language, social class and age, shared a profound love with the Son of God, renouncing either his civil status or other aspects of his social condition, all “in order to earn Christ” (Phil 3: 8). Remembering that spiritual heritage, I turn to you dear brothers who have inherited it, and that with gentle solicitude continue in the task of evangelization, especially taking care of the weakest and favoring the integration into the communities of faithful from various backgrounds.

“I would like to thank you for this, as well as for the commitment to cultural promotion, interreligious dialogue and the care of creation. In particular, I would like to reflect with you on the missionary mission of the Church in Japan. ‘If the Church is born Catholic (that is, universal) it means that it was born ‘outgoing’ — that it was born missionary.’ (General Audience on 17 September 2014). In fact, ‘the love of Christ pushes us’ (2 Cor 5,14) to offer our life for the Gospel. Such dynamism dies if we lose our missionary enthusiasm. For this reason life is strengthened by giving it and it weakens itself in isolation and agitation. In fact, those who make the most of the chances of life are those who leave the safe shore and are passionate about the mission of communicating life to others.” (Evangelii gaudium, 10).

‘We commend you to Blessed Takayama’

◘ On Dec. 8, 2018 – Pope Francis appointed Osaka Cardinal Thomas Aquinas Manyo Maeda as his Papal Legate to the 50th Anniversary of the postwar reconstruction of the Manila Cathedral-Basilica:

>>>“You are to act in our name, therefore, on the 8th day of the coming month of December, more than four years since we have visited it, at the Cathedral in Manila — also titled as Minor Basilica of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary — giving thanks to God for the beauty of this temple but most importantly for the lively faith of the pastors and of the Christian faithful, who always pray there every day, approaching Christ the Lord, the living stone who is chosen and precious before God, so that they who are also living stones be built up by God as a spiritual abode. (cf. 1 Peter 2:4-5).

“Through prayer we will sustain the great task of your mission, while even now zealously we place you, our venerable brother, under the most loving protection of the Holy Mother of God, Blessed Virgin Mary: ‘For there is only one God, and only one mediator between God and men, the man who gave himself as ransom for all, Jesus Christ’ (1 Tim 2:5-6), in whose Mother ‘he had the most perfect degree of mediation possible… and deigned to preserve her from original sin” (Bl. John Duns Scotus, Ordinatio III d. 3. n. 2).

“And indeed desiring for you a heavenly companion in Manila, we also commend you to ● Blessed Justo Takayama Ukon, who is recently raised to the glory of the altars in Osaka. We therefore abundantly pour upon you our Apostolic Blessing; and we generously share it with all of those to whom you will be sent: beloved pastors, seminarians, religious men and women, and lay Christian faithful, most especially the poor and the children.”

In the first celebration of the feast day of Blessed Takayama on Feb. 3, 2018, six Japanese bishops choose to concelebrate Mass at the Manila Cathedral with Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle and the Apostolic Nuncio, Archb. Gabrielle Caccia
In the first celebration of the feast day of Blessed Takayama on Feb. 3, 2018, six Japanese bishops choose to concelebrate Mass at the Manila Cathedral with Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle and the Apostolic Nuncio, Archbishop Gabriele Giordano Caccia

►Pope Francis has announced TWICE his intention to visit Japan “before the end of the year.” It will be a sentimental journey for, as a young Jesuit, he had aspired to serve in the missions of Japan. His plans did not materialize – for health issues. But we pray his journey would go through – as his visit comes at an important intersection of Japanese history.#

Dr. Ernesto A. de Pedro
Takayama Trustee

 

 

Who Was Blessed Takayama – Japanese Martyr Who Died in Manila?  

►The story of the celebrated “Samurai for Christ” — Dom Justo Ukon Takayama (1552-1615) — is of enduring interest for all people of faith. Why has this Japanese Christian samurai of heroic virtue resonated so well among so many devotees across the world?

Here’s a brief that accompanies every Takayama statuette:

►One of the greatest heroes of the martyr Church of Japan is undoubtedly the Catholic lay apostle, Justo Ukon Takayama, or “Justus Ucondono” as he was usually called by Jesuit missionaries. Although he greatly desired to shed his blood for Christ, he was not granted this honor, yet he sacrificed everything on three separate occasions for his Divine Master, was exiled to a foreign land (the Philippines) for the sake of his Faith, and died in Manila as a result of the hardships endured on the voyage to his exile.

Ukon Takayama was one of the greatest men of his era. He was an able ruler (as Daimyo, or feudal governor of Takatsuki from age 21, and later, of Akashi), a great general, an ingenious strategist, a master of the tea ceremony, a harmonious personality, and above all, an exemplary and saintly Christian.

He preached the Gospel among Japanese Buddhists — (which the Takayama family professed until their conversion and baptism in 1564) – better than many of the Jesuit missionaries. His amiable and attractive personality and, more striking, his blameless life, attracted numerous souls to the fold of the Good Shepherd. Not only did he convert his vassals and subjects to the Catholic Faith, but a number of the greatest personalities of his era were also won over by his entreaties and example to the cause of Christ. The Daimyos Gamo Ujisato, Kuroda Yoshitaka, and Lady Hosokawa Gracia were the most outstanding of them — but there were many others whose number and identity is known to God alone.

Ukon’s unblemished chastity was so generally admired even his adversary, Toyotomi Hideyoshi (豊臣 秀吉, 1537–1598), who ruled Japan 1583-1598) could not but admire it.

‘Samurai of Christ’

As a samurai-daimyo devoted to Christ, Ukon Takayama professed his Faith openly — fighting battles under the Sign of the Cross.

When the hegemon Oda Nobunaga (織田 信長, 1534–1582; r. 1574-1582) threatened to massacre all Christians and destroy their churches — unless Ukon handed over to him the strategic castle of Takatsuki (in Osaka Prefecture), the heroic champion of Christ, without hesitation, renounced his domain and betook himself to Nobunaga, with shaved head — ready to die with the missionaries and Christians. Doing this, he fully realized the terrible danger to which he exposed the lives of his only son and his little sister, who were held as hostages by his suzerain Araki Murashige. God deigned to save Ukon’s life, spare his hostages and secure for him Nobunaga’s admiration and good graces.

When Toyotomi Hideyoshi (who succeeded Nobunaga) suddenly turned persecutor in 1587, Ukon Takayama was called upon either to deny his Faith, or lose his fief, and he gladly gave up everything rather than turn traitor to his Divine Master.

For several years, his life and the lives of his family were in grave danger – because of hatred for the Faith. Even after Hideyoshi’s wrath had cooled, he never again became a ruling daimyo but lived in relative obscurity as a guest samurai-general of the Daimyo Toshiee Maeda in Kanazawa. For the next 26 years, Takayama devoted his time sharing the Gospel, striving to be a worthy channel of God’s grace, It was in 1590 that Pope Sixtus V heard of Ukon’s plight. In a rare gesture, the Pope sent his Apostolic Blessings to Takayama, enjoining him to hold on to the Faith – and be an example to other oppressed Christians,

In 1614, Tokugawa Ieyasu (徳川家康, 1543 – 1616) resolved to exterminate Christianity — “that evil foreign religion” — and Ukon Takayama was again among the first targets. Since the tyrant could not hope to make him apostatize, he exiled him to a foreign land, calculating that he would not long survive the rigors and hardships of the voyage. The fact that Ukon died a few weeks after his arrival at Manila shows most clearly that Ieyasu’s calculation has been only too correct. Thus Ukon Takayama had the satisfaction of giving up his life for the Divine Master.

In the estimation of his contemporaries, Ukon Takayama was a saintly man. After he had been deposed as Lord of Akashi (in 1587), he was now freer to preach the Gospel — ready to be killed for his Faith. When he visited Kyushu, the Christians there venerated him as a martyr.

Exiled to Manila

In Manila, he was welcomed with religious enthusiasm, for everyone was well aware of the honor of giving hospitality to a renowned Confessor of the Faith. His premature death on Feb. 3, 1615 caused general mourning and regret that Manila had been deprived of the presence of a man of God. His funeral in Intramuros, accorded by Church and State, was a great tribute to him, underscoring that an outstanding Servant of God had passed to a better life.

‘Son of Manila’

The Archdiocese of Manila (as the diocese where Takayama died, or where he was “born to Heaven”) first presented to the Vatican a petition for the beatification of Ukon Takayama in 1630 — only 15 years after he died. This was the FIRST EVER petition for sainthood sent to the Vatican from the Philippine Church!

Many who have remembered this heroic champion of Christ across the centuries continue to pray fervently that Ukon Takayama would someday be raised to the honors of the Altar, and thus be set as a model for young people.#

Ukon’s last sunset in Kanazawa was on Feb. 13, 1614. He departed with 350 Christian exiles from Nagasaki for Manila on Nov. 8, arriving in Manila on Dec. 21, 1614

Takayama’s Timeline in the Philippines

1614 – (Dec. 21) — Arrival in Manila of Lord Justo Ukon Takayama with 350 Japanese Christian asylum seekers.

1615 – (Feb. 3) – Death of Ukon in Intramuros, Manila at the Jesuit/PLM Compound.

1630 – (Oct, 5) — Original Petition for Takayama’s sainthood sent by Manila Archdiocese to the Vatican.

1937 – (Feb. 3) – The 33rd International Eucharistic Congress in Manila (Feb. 3-7, 1937) passes resolution supporting the Beatification Cause of Takayama.

1942 – (Sept. 20) – Takayama Memorial Mass in honor of Takayama — a symbol of Philippine-Japanese friendship and amity in time of war — is celebrated at San Marcelino Church – with Japanese military and Philippine government officials in attendance.

1963 – (April 24) – Manila Cardinal Rufino J. Santos endorses to the Japanese Church the Cause of Takayama.

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

1992 – (Nov. 17) – Takayama Memorial is declared a National Monument by the National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP).

1994 — (June 5) – The “Samurai of Christ” is declared “Servant of God.”

2016 – (Jan. 21) – Decree of Martyrdom issued by Pope Francis, declaring Takayama, a “layperson … from Japan [who] died from the hatred of the Faith on Feb. 3, 1615 in Manila, Philippines.”

2017 — (Feb. 7) — Beatification of the “Servant of God” Justo Ukon Takayana as a Beatus (“Blessed”).

2017 – (March 28) — Takayama Shrine established at the Thomas Aquinas Research Complex (TARC), home of the UST Graduate School.

2018 – (Feb. 3) — Liturgical feast day of Blessed Takayama in Japan and the Philippines.

2018 – (Dec. 21) — Manila City Council issues a Resolution declaring every December 21 – as “Blessed Takayama Ukon Day” in Manila.#

Manila-Based Trustees of Takayama’s Memory

►The Manila-based “Blessed Takayama Canonization Movement” relies on Social Media to promote (in English) the canonization of the “Jesuit samurai” – Blessed Justo Takayama (Osaka 1552-Manila 1615).

Takayama died in Intramuros, Manila on Feb. 3, 1615 – only 44 days after he and 350 Japanese Christian exiles arrived in Manila. Because, under Church rubrics, “where a person dies, is where one is born to Heaven,” the Manila Archdiocese proposed this “Son of Manila” for sainthood at the Vatican on Oct. 5, 1630 – the first candidate EVER proposed by the Philippine Church.

Pope Francis issued a ‘Decree of Martyrdom’ on Jan. 21, 2016, declaring Lord Takayama, a “layperson … from Japan [who] died from the hatred of the Faith on Feb. 3, 1615 in Manila, Philippines.”

Servant of God Justo Ukon Takayama was beatified on Feb. 7, 2017. He is thus the Philippines’ THIRD Blessed – and 436th venerated martyr of Japan.

How Did Filipinos Get Involved in this Japanese Cause?

►With funding from Buddhist and Protestant admirers of Lord Takayama, a group of Filipino and Japanese history buffs in Manila decided to send Dr. Ernesto A. de Pedro to visit the Vatican Archives in 1986, to research on Vatican archival materials about Lord Justo Ukon Takayama (whose Memorial at Plaza Dilao was erected in 1977). The Archives Director was puzzled why a Filipino researcher was interested in the Japanese “Samurai of Christ” — Ukon Takayama.

De Pedro explained that Takayama died in Manila in 1615 – and there was a flow of Japanese pilgrims visiting Manila to trace Takayama’s footsteps – and wanted to know more about the “historical Takayama.”

When De Pedro visited the Jesuit Curia, the Jesuit General Postulator, Fr. Paolo Molinari, SJ, — who was in charge of the “Beatification Cause of Takayama” (an “ancient cause” pending since 1630) — handed over a carton-box-full of xerographed documents submitted by the CBCJ Historical Committee in 1975 — to support the “Cause of Beatification” of Takayama. Could De Pedro undertake to translate the documents into English within two years? (The CBCJ had submitted the documents in 1975 – and all the while that Catholics in Japan were fervently praying for the beatification of Takayama for 11 years, these papers were actually “dormant” at the Jesuit Postulator’s office – as the German, Portuguese and Japanese text that some chapters were written in were not considered official Vatican languages. The papers could not be studied – unless all text was in an official Vatican language – like Italian, English, Latin or Spanish.)

De Pedro accepted the pro-bono assignment. When he completed the one-volume ‘Positio’ — “Justus Takayama Ukon, Servus Dei” (1994, 648p) — the Jesuit Postulator General, Fr. Paulo Molinari, acknowledged: “Thanks to your much appreciated collaboration, all the essential materials for this important ‘Cause’ are by now available.”

De Pedro and the supportive “Prayer Warriors of Blessed Takayama” have promoted  the “Cause of Takayama” ever since.

Spreading the Word

►To spread info about Blessed Takayama, we run the website: https://www.takayamaukon.com/ – As this is the only Takayama website in English – it is the ‘de facto’ aggregator of Takayama info.

►On Facebook, we promote the ‘Takayama Cause’ on the FB Page: //http://www.facebook.com/justotakayamaukon

►Promoter’s FB account: https://http://www.facebook.com/drernestodepedro/

►Email: ernestodepedro@gmail.com

We implore your prayers and support for the “Cause of Blessed Takayama” which – at this stage – is waiting for ONE “intercessory miracle” required for final canonization.#

Dr. ERNESTO A. DE PEDRO
Takayama Trustee