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First Feastday of Blessed Justo Takayama (Feb. 3, 2018) – A Philippines-Japan-Vatican Concelebration

His Eminence, Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle, was the Main Celebrant

Photos by Erwin M. de Pedro (Takayama Trustee) and (mostly by) Maricar Santos (Archdiocese of Manila – Office of Communications) 

►In his homily, Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle set the tone of the Eucharistic Concelebration: “Through Blessed Ukon Takayama [‘martyred’ in Manila, Feb. 3, 1615], through St. Lorenzo Ruiz [martyred in Nagasaki, Sept. 29, 1637] — Japan and the Philippines will always be one. Let us give witness to the world of the power of love that comes from the heart of Jesus. Let us now pause and continue thanking God for the gift of Jesus, the gift of mission and the gift of the great martyrs like Blessed Ukon Takayama.”

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The Celebration of the First Blessed Takayama Feastday Took Two Days to Unfold

4:30 PM, Friday, Feb. 2, 2018 – Directly to Paco Parish Church where Lord Takayama’s converts among Japanese non-Christian expatriates were baptized — the 60-man Takayama Pilgrim Group, led by six Japanese Bishops came — straight from the Manila Airport — to concelebrate a Thanksgiving Mass.

Paco Parish Church (where parishioners number some 92,000) is the first church in the Philippines that enshrined an altar statue of Blessed Takayama on Dec. 21, 2017 — 403th anniversary of the 1614 arrival of ‘Lord Takayama and 350 Japanese Christian Exiles.’

The lead celebrant was Nagasaki Archbishop Joseph Mitsuaki Takami. Concelebrating were:  Tokyo Archbishop Tarcisio Isao Kikuchi, SVD,  Kyoto Bishop Paul Yoshinao Otsuka (Chair of the CBCJ Commission for the Promotion of Saints),  Sapporo Bishop Bernard Taiji Katsuya,  Kagoshima Bishop Paul Kenjiro Koriyama, and  Naha Bishop Berard Toshio Oshikawa, OFM.

Also concelebrating were ♦ Rev. Msgr. Rolando dela Cruz, Paco parish priest; ♦ Fr. Carlo del Rosario, parochial vicar, and two Manila-based Japanese priests: ♦ Fr. Iwao Ikegami, FMVD, and ♦ Fr. Johya Kijima.

The Paco Parish Church was the first stop for the Takayama Pilgrim Group. It was in Paco/Dilao where Takayama continued his evangelization efforts — among non-Christian Japanese expatriates. It was in Paco Church where the first Takayama Altar Statue was enshrined on Dec. 21, 2017.

RECALLING that Lord Takayama and thousands of Japanese Christians were refugees in the Philippines, one Tokyo-based Filipina pilgrim, Puchie Gan, a member of the ‘Gathering of Filipino Groups and Communities’ (GFGC), writes: “Blessed Justo Takayama Ukon whose faith was unwavering and who lived a life of holiness until his death” … serves as the inspiration to Filipino migrants in Japan.

The Manila Cathedral was the center for the Concelebration of Blessed Takayama’s first feastday on Feb. 3, 2018.

11:00 AM, Saturday, Feb. 3, 2018 — Manila Cathedral Celebrates the First Feastday of Blessed Takayama (1552-1615) – a true ‘Son of Manila.’ In Church rubric, ‘where one dies, is where one is born to Heaven.’ That’s why the Manila Archdiocese proposed Takayama as the first saint of his adopted country, the Philippines in 1630.

UST Chapel was the third Manila church to host a Memorisal Mass for Blessed Takayama on his first feastday. UST has been the de facto center for the promotion of the Cause for Canonization of the ‘Kirishitan Samurai’ Ukon Takayama since 1988.

5:15 PM, Saturday, Feb. 3, 2018 — As it has since 1988, the UST Chapel (Santísimo Rosario Church) was the venue of a Thanksgiving Mass for Blessed Takayama – with Kyoto Bishop Bishop Paul Yoshinao Otsuka, Chair of the CBCJ Commission for the Promotion of Saints, as Main Celebrant. Concelebrating with him were four Dominican priests – (l-r) ♦ Fr. Jose Antonio E. Aureada, OP ♦ Fr. Pablo T. Tiong, OP ♦ Fr. Louie B. Coronel, OP and ♦ Fr. Arturo P. Pestin, OP.
Fr. Pablo T. Tiong, OP, UST Vice Rector for Religious Affairs, delivered the homily.

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Eucharistic Concelebration at the Manila Cathedral

The main celebration at the Manila Cathedral involved prelates from the Philippines, Japan and the Vatican.

Cardinal Tagle — before the image of Blessed Justo Takayama

◘ His Eminence, Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle – Manila Archbishop since Dec. 12, 2011 — was the main celebrant.

Cardinal Tagle — at the Consecration

◘ Three Archbishops concelebrated the Eucharistic Mass — ♦ Apostolic Nuncio, Archbishop Gabriele Giordano Caccia ♦ Nagasaki Archbishop Joseph Mitsuaki Takami, and ♦ Tokyo Archbishop Tarcisio Isao Kikuchi, SVD.

All the concelebrants — at the High Altar

◘ Four Japanese Bishops also concelebrated: ♦ Kyoto Bishop Paul Yoshinao Otsuka (Chair of the CBCJ Commission for the Promotion of Saints), ♦ Sapporo Bishop Bernard Taiji Katsuya, ♦ Kagoshima Bishop Paul Kenjiro Koriyama, and ♦ Naha Bishop Emeritus Berard Toshio Oshikawa, OFM.

◘ Twenty-five (25) priests – among them: ♦ Msgr. Rolando dela Cruz; ♦ Fr. Carlo del Rosario; ♦ Fr. Dandy Parafina; ♦ Fr. Marlito G. Ocon, SJ; ♦ Fr. Martin Licup, SJ, and four priests with the Takayama Pilgrims’ Group from Japan: ♦ Fr. Benerando Raul Gumanit, MSP ♦ Fr. Joya Kijima ♦ Fr. Ryohei Miyashita and ♦ Fr. Jose Norella III, MSP. (For the record, the names of 16 other priests will be listed too.)

Music was furnished by the Manila Cathedral Ministry of Music.

The ‘Beatification Logo’ was emblazoned on the vestments used at the first Blessed Justo Takayama Feastday.

Logo of Blessed Takayama

The Mass vestments (see photos above and below) bore the logo used at the Blessed Takayama Beatification Rites. The logo was designed by Sr. M. Esther Kitazume, of the Sisters of Disciples of the Divine Master.

The emblem on the Mass vestments is based on the Takayama family crest of seven circles.

The emblem reproduces seven round circles of the Takayama family, with the Cross and three rings in the background. Each circle represents members of Ukon’s family and also the seven sacraments and seven gifts of the Holy Spirit. The Cross is a sign of Ukon’s offer of his life for faith.

Concelebrated Mass, Including Cardinal Tagle’s Homily, Livestreamed on Facebook

The Takayama Thanksgiving Mass, including the homily, was livestreamed at https://www.facebook.com/justotakayamaukon/?hc_ref=ARQ75P7y0iL0uEHvBsgPDM8nBkl7DscKd7DoJ7nzajtgGfj0kZvl4kgHDj4YfW7-QFA
This video will be on permanent file.

Text of Cardinal Tagle’s Homily Is Also Posted at Facebook

The text of Cardinal Tagle’s homily is posted at https://www.facebook.com/justotakayamaukon/?hc_ref=ARTgrfE5rJYIwnXObnSor-C9JSvlYmxsdc49JqF5ajZX7XqIKi2tF7cjkxClxhRPm_4&fref=nf

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MANILA ARCHBISHOP Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle enjoined the Filipino faithful and Japanese pilgrims: “Be martyrs … by giving yourself to others and finding meaning in suffering.”

Cardinal Tagle urged the faithful to emulate Blessed Justo Ukon Takayama, a Japanese Christian who was persecuted for his faith and died in exile in Manila.

Some of the 60-man Japanese Pilgrims’ Group who flew in to celebrate the first Feastdsy of Blessed Justo Ukon Takayama.

BUT IN THESE MODERN TIMES, Cardinal Tagle pointed out that one “does not have to wait for martyrdom” and that Catholics “are invited to be martyrs every day.”

“Every day, we are asked by Jesus to be with Him, to be witnesses to His love. So give yourself to others and be united with them in their suffering,” Tagle said.

In his homily, Tagle cited Blessed Takayama’s life, especially his choice to remain true to his faith even if he had a chance to save himself by simply renouncing it.

“He knew the dangers, he was given a chance to turn away from Jesus and his faith. But he remained faithful to Jesus. Others said he was crazy for not saving his life,” the prelate said.

But in today’s times, Blessed Takayama’s “foolishness” is now a source of wisdom and strength for Catholics, Tagle said.

The prelate added that the Christian understanding of suffering is to give life to others in an ultimate act of love.

“It is not looking for suffering because we enjoy it. It is love, it is mission, it is a gift of self that gives someone like Jesus the strength to suffer and die. With love, you can suffer meaningfully and in a manner that gives life to others,” Tagle said.

Tagle added: “Have no fear, love and when you love you will have the strength to suffer. People who love but are afraid of suffering do not know how to love.”

‘Kirishitan Samurai’

As a samurai general, Lord Takayama served under  the hegemons, Oda Nobunaga and Toyotomi Hideyoshi, but was already in domestic exile (in Kanazawa) when Tokugawa Ieyasu established the Tokugawa Shogunate (1600-1868).

BLESSED JUSTO TAKAYAMA was a Japanese samurai and ‘Daimyo’ (feudal lord) who lived during the Sengoku period (戦国時代 Sengoku Jidai, “Age of Warring States”; c1467–c1603) in Japan, and was baptized as a Catholic with the name, Justo, when he was only 12.

In 1587, Christians were ordered expelled from Japan and all Christian feudal lords asked to renounce their faith.

There was no ‘direct confrontation’ between Hideyoshi and Ukon — as depicted in this famous woodblock print. Hideyoshi sent an emissary — the Grand Teamaster Sen no Rikyu — to demand that Ukon abjure his allegiance to ‘that evil religion’. 

REFUSING TO GIVE UP his faith, Blessed Takayama was expelled from his feudal domain of Akashi in 1587 – and became a ronin, a masterless samurai. In the first year, he was protected by well-placed Christian allies.

He and his family – wife Justa Takayama, married daughter Lucia Yokoyama, and five grandsons – were eventually forced to leave their homeland. Given a choice between Manila and Macau, he chose Manila because his Spanish Jesuit father-confessor, Fr. Pedro Morejon, SJ, was Manila-bound. The overloaded Chinese junk, which normally sailed the route from Nagasaki to Manila in 20 days, took 43 days to reach Manila, as it was buffeted by a severe typhoon that snapped its main mast into two, off the coast of Bataan.

Arriving in Manila in Sunday, Dec. 21, 1614, ‘Lord Takayama and 350 Japanese Christian exiles’ were warmly welcomed by Spanish Jesuits and Filipino Christians. The cannons of Fort Santiago boomed and church bells in Intramuros’ six Churches rang in welcome.

However, 40 days after his arrival (on Jan. 30), he fell ill “of a tropical illness,” and – like St. Francis Xavier who died several days after falling ill on Shangchuan Island, off the southern coast of Guangdong, China on Dec. 3, 1552 (the year Ukon was born) – Ukon died on Feb. 3, 1615. His sojourn in Manila lasted only 44 days – as the cunning Tokugawa Ieyasu had hoped for.

Pope Francis’ Decree of Martyrdom (2016)

When Pope Francis’ Decree of Martyrdom was issued on Jan. 21, 2016, Fr. Anton Witwer, SJ, Jesuit General Postulator, explained: “Since Takayama died in exile because of the weaknesses caused by the maltreatment he suffered in his homeland, the process … is that of a martyr.”

In his decree, Pope Francis recognized Justo Ukon Takayama as a “loyal Japanese layman, who was martyred in Manila in 1615.” 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.”

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A Welcome Entreaty for an Altar Statue of Blessed Justo Ukon Takayama for Laoag

►During the Takayama Thanksgiving Mass, the Bishop of Laoag, Msgr. Renato Mayugba entreated the Japanese Bishops to make Laoag Diocese the first outside Manila to enshrine a Takayama altar statue — at St. William Cathedral (est. 1580; current church built in 1612).

St. William’s Cathedral is the seat of the Diocese of Laoag (Ilocos Norte).

THE DIOCESE OF LAOAG has 22 parishes – and a ‘Japanese connection.’
In 1620, fisherfolk found two crates floating in the sea off the shores of Badoc town, Ilocos Norte — presumably off-floated from a Japanese church desperate to save them from destruction by the Tokugawa Shogunate.

One crate contained the statue of the ‘Black Cristo Milagroso’ — (as ebony as the ‘Black Nazarene’ at Quiapo) — now enshrined in Badoc’s adjoining town, Sinait, Ilocos Sur.

The other crate contained the statue of the Blessed Virgin — “with Japanese features” — cradling the Infant Jesus in her arms. The Marian statue is revered today as ‘La Virgen Milagrosa de Badoc.’ Devotees call her “Mary, Cause of Our Joy — Patroness of Ilocos Norte.”

The canonical coronation of “La Virgen Milagrosa de Badoc” is on May 31, 2018.

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At the Sidelines of the Takayama Feastday

Veneration of Takayama Relic

For the first time since the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Japan (CBCJ) presented the Manila Cathedral with a Takayama Relic – church-goers were invited to venerate it.

The Takayama Relic is a piece of Ukon’s vest (‘chaleco’) encased in a monstrance-shaped gold reliquary.
Church-goers formed a line to venerate the relic.

◘ ‘Estampitas’ or Prayer Cards

Prayer cards in Tagalog were distributed by both the CBCJ and the Manila-based Blessed Justo Takayama Canonization Movement.

‘Estampitas’ (prayer cards) — in Tagalog — were distributed by both CBCJ and the Manila-based Blessed Takayama Canonizstion Movement

The CBCJ prayer cards enjoined – in Tagalog – all Takayama devotees to report any purported “miracle through the intercession of Blessed Takayama” – to the Bishop of the Diocese where the miracle happened. For better coordination – whatever country it is from – also inform <blessedtakayama@gmail.com> and <ernestodepedro@gmail.com>. The concerned ecclesiastical authorities will be alerted.

Some Desperate Cases, Imploring Blessed Takayama’s Intercession,  Attended the Takayama Mass

Some severe medical cases imploring Blessed Takayama’s intercession attended the Mass. For months they had been praying on the basis of ‘estampitas’ or prayer cards. Now, the Takayama Movement presented those on its waiting list — with 12” Takayama statuettes to help them focus on their devotion.

This 12″ Blessed Takayama statuette (made of resin-fiberglass) is from a limited production run — to accommodate the visiting Japanese pilgrims. Distribution at normal religious channels will be announced when there is an adequate supply.

◘ First Japanese Pilgrimage (Feb. 3, 2018) to PLM University Chapel

The 60-man Takayama Pilgrims’ Group began the Feb. 3 Takayama Feastday – with an 8:30 AM visit to the PLM University Chapel – which was arranged by the Department of Tourism (DOT) and the Intramuros Administration (IA). Fr. Albert Fuyuki Hirabayashi, SJ (in light blue coat), Secretary of the CBCJ Commission for the Promotion of Saints, coordinated the brief visit. (Photo by Robert Queddeng)

The Jesuit Compound (now the PLM Campus), is where Lord Justo Takayama sojourned for 44 days (since arriving on Dec. 21, 1614); died on Feb. 3, 1615 – and was buried near the High Altar of the Jesuits’ Santa Ana Church, in the Jesuits’ expectation that he would soon be raised to the honors of the High Altar.

Invoking the spirit of Blessed Justo Takayama — inside the PLM University Chapel. (Photo by Yuya Cruz, Ars Dream Travel, Manila)

For the first time in 403 years – Japanese pilgrims step on ‘hallowed ground’ as they visit the Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila (PLM) where the University Chapel was inaugurated by Cardinal Jaime Sin on Dec. 17, 1990.#

‘Sketching Blessed Takayama’ as Prayer

Having no Takayama ‘estampitas’ — in English or Tagalog — to focus on, a Filipino cancer patient in Tokyo drew his own imaginings of what Takayama looked like.

Noel Velez made his own sketches of Blessed Justo Takayama, as he prayed for Ukon’s intercession during his illness.

The ‘Paintings/Sketches of Blessed Takayama’ by the Filipino artist +Noel Velez (1951-Jan. 14, 2018) as he lay dying in a Tokyo hospital – and died only 20 days before the Takayama Feastday in Manila — was published in a slim booklet by his widow Puchie Gan – and presented to Cardinal Tagle before the Takayama Thanksgiving Mass on Feb. 3, 2018.

Cardinal Tagle is presented with slim book of Velez’s sketches of Blessed Takayama by Velez’s widow, Puchie Gan

A graduate in Bachelor of Philosophy from the Our Lady of the Angels Seminary, Noel moved to Tokyo in 1990 to join his wife, Puchie Gan. He worked as Staff Designer for Sesame Street/Japan and served as Musician and Pastoral volunteer in the Archdiocese of Tokyo. The passion for the art was heightened during the battle with cancer of the lungs. Blessed Justo Takayama Ukon whose faith was unwavering and who lived a life of holiness until his death served as the inspiration for all the artwork in this book.

Ukon Takayama as a Samurai — as sketched by Noel Velez

Noel died on Jan. 14, 2018 at Juntendo University Hospital in Nerima-takanodai, Tokyo. Fr. Russell Becker, OFM, pastor of Franciscan Chapel Center in Roppongi, Tokyo — where the Velezes serve as Music Ministers — administered the Last Rites.
Noel’s widow, Puchie Gan, attended the Takayama Thanksgiving Mass. with a Filipino-Japanese delegation from the ‘Gathering of Filipino Groups and Communities’ (GFGC) from Tokyo.#

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MEMENTO PHOTOGRAPH of the seven prelates who concelebrated the Thanksgiving Mass at the first Feastday of Blessed Justo Takayama. — representing the Philippines, Japan and the Vatican.

Dr. Ernesto A. de Pedro
Managing Trustee
Blessed Justo Takayama Canonization Movement

Homily of Cardinal Tagle at the First Feastday of Blessed Takayama on Feb. 3, 2018

Cardinal Tagle extolling the heroic virtues of Blessed Takayama at Thanksgiving Mass celebrating his first Feastday. (Photo by Erwin M. de Pedro, Trustee, Blessed Justo Takayama Canonization Movement)

►The Thanksgiving Mass to mark Blessed Takayama’s first Feastday was concelebrated at the Manila Cathedral Basilica, where Ukon Takayama and his exiled family had worshipped in 1614-1615. Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle was the lead celebrant – with three Archbishops, four Japanese Bishops and 25 Priests concelebrating.

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MY DEAR BROTHERS and sisters in Christ, we give thanks and praise to God for this day. We thank God for giving us the opportunity to be one community so that we could be renewed by his word, by his presence, by his spirit and also, by the gift of holy men and women to the church and to society.

Today, we give thanks to God for the gift of Blessed Ukon Justo Takayama and we welcome all of you. We welcome especially our dear bishops from Japan and all the pilgrims from Japan. Welcome, welcome. Welcome to the Manila Cathedral, the Minor Basilica of the Immaculate Conception. We hope you will enjoy your stay in the Philippines. We hope also you will experience a renewal in discipleship in following Christ as we remember Blessed Ukon.

And to the Filipinos, we hope that we will receive Blessed Ukon Takayama who died as a martyr here in Manila. From Japan he blessed our soil, our land testimony of faith and of heroism. I’m sorry I cannot speak in Japanese, I cannot translate my homily into Japanese. But those of you who understand English maybe you can tell your friends later what I reflected upon.

Some people wonder whether Christians glorify suffering. The say how come you worship Jesus on the cross and you venerate the memory of martyrs those who have suffered? Are we making suffering some sort of a fashionable or glamorous thing? Is it an excuse for all the pain that the world experiences? I think the readings for the feast of Blessed Ukon gives us the Christian understanding. It is not in order to encourage inflicting suffering and pain on other people.

But we look to Jesus how did he look at suffering. And we see in the Gospel that Jesus has an integrated suffering within his mission. It is not accepting suffering in itself but in the context of mission, he finds meaning in suffering. His mission is to fulfill the will of the Father that humanity maybe saved. Jesus glorifies the Father by fulfilling his mission.

And if suffering is involved in fulfilling his mission He says yes. He is saying yes to the mission and if suffering is included in the mission, He will accept it too as He accepts His mission. And so it becomes a moment to glorify God. It is also a moment for him to be the seed of grain that falls to the earth and dies. It is a suffering with other people, by his suffering He becomes one with the earth, one with human beings, one with suffering creation.

His suffering is an act of solidarity. So, it is not just enjoying suffering. It is a suffering that has a meaning. It is a suffering for a mission. It is a suffering for the others. And so, it is not just a suffering it is giving of my life so that others may live. The world sees suffering but Jesus sees a gift of life. That’s a totally different perspective that’s why in the Eucharist we remember that; this is my body for you. This is my blood for you. May I know who among you here are parents with children?

Well you have a mission to be a good parent and part of the mission is a lot of suffering. You work hard not for yourself but for them. You get sick but still go to work. And you embrace that suffering because of your mission for them. Even if they are already grown up you are worried about them. You suffered daily because of your concerned for them. But it is because of your mission and because of your communion, solidarity with them. It is not useless. It is a gift of life for them, for others. So, it is not looking for suffering because we enjoy suffering. No, it is love. It is mission. It is gift of self that gives someone like Jesus the strength to suffer and die. With love you can suffer meaningfully and in the manner that gives life to others.

That’s why St. Paul in the first reading reminds us, when you suffer for God, when you suffer for others, when you suffer because of a mission, when you suffer because you’re giving yourselves out of love then, you are united with God. Some people when they suffer, they ask where is God? Has God abandoned me? But St. Paul says, nothing can separate us from the love of God. Jesus in the Gospel says, “Where I am I want you to be there too.” Jesus is loving us unto death and He wants us to be united with him. Nothing can separate us from the love of Christ who first love us and who loved us with all the sufferings that love can endure. So, why will we fear?

Have no fear. Love. And when you love you will have the strength to suffer People who love but are afraid of suffering do not know how to love. It is love for God, for others that gives someone the strength even to die. We are celebrating the love of Christ manifested to us in and through Blessed Ukon Justo Takayama. He knew the dangers. He was given a chance to turn away from Jesus and his faith. But he said no. I will keep my faith. I will remain faithful to Jesus. The world will say, Ukon, are you crazy? Why not save your life? Yes, he might be crazy. Crazy, because of love. He became foolish because he loved. And he paid the price of his love. But now his foolishness is wisdom for us. His weakness is strength for us. He’s telling all of us. Have no fear love. Love, love. And when you love, you know nothing can separate you from the strength that comes from Christ.

With Cardinal Tagle as lead celebrant, the Eucharistic Mass was concelebrated by three archbishops — ♦ Apostolic Nuncio, Archbishop Gabriele Giordano Caccia ♦ Nagasaki Archbishop Joseph Mitsuaki Takami, and ♦ Tokyo Archbishop Tarcisio Isao Kikuchi, SVD; four Japanese Bishops: ♦ Kyoto Bishop Paul Yoshinao Otsuka (Chair of the CBCJ Commission for the Promotion of Saints), ♦ Sapporo Bishop Bernard Taiji Katsuya, ♦ Kagoshima Bishop Paul Kenjiro Koriyama, and ♦ Naha Bishop Emeritus Berard Toshio Oshikawa, OFM — and 25 priests, six of them from Japan.#

We are invited to be martyrs, witnesses every day. We don’t need to wait for martyrdom by blood. Every day, in our state of life we are asked by Jesus, “be with me witness to my love”. Give yourself to your mission, for others. Be united with sufferings. Nothing should separate you from the love of Christ. When we were singing the “Gloria,” you hear a lot of bells and bells. That’s okay, because according to the historical records when Ukon and his family and companions landed here in Manila the bells of the churches were rang including the bells of Manila Cathedral. And the missionaries, the Spanish missionaries, the Jesuits and the Christians here welcomed him. Already at the time they considered him a martyr, a witness to the love that won’t say no even to the point of suffering. So, now we are happy that the church had recognized him and from Japan, Philippines he will give witness to the whole world to the universal church.

So let us rejoice, give thanks to God and let us be one. Through Ukon, through Lorenzo Ruiz — Japan and the Philippines will always be one. Let us give witness to the world of the power of love that comes from the heart of Jesus. Let us now pause and continue thanking God for the gift of Jesus, the gift of mission and the gift of the great martyrs like Blessed Ukon.#

In Solidarity with Manila Cathedral – Toyono-cho, Birthplace of Blessed Takayama, Took Photos of the Town on Feb. 3, 2018 – ‘the Day Ukon Passed Away’

►These photographs offer sceneries of Ukon’s birthplace on Feb. 3, 2018 – 403rd death anniversary of Ukon — which the town wishes to share with Takayama devotees in the Philippines.

Tono-cho has, of course, no Catholic Church for a Memorial Mass. As in Takayama’s time, it has been 99.63% Shinto/Buddhist, but the town is very proud of their ‘Kirishitan Samurai’ who has been hailed as ‘the epitome of the Japanese spirit.’

In lieu of a Thanksgiving Mass – ‘as you are having at the Manila Cathedral’ — ‘we had a memorial Ukon musical performed by residents of Toyono on February 3 and 4.’

Toyono-cho on February 3 was ‘covered by some snow.’

These terraced paddies must have looked exactly like these some 400 years ago.

A stone marker claims that Ukon Takayama was born in Takayama Village in Toyono-cho, Osaka Prefecture.

In the far background, Takayama Village may be seen.

Takaki Ohnishi, Manager of the Agriculture, Forestry, Commerce, Industrial and Tourism Division, of the Toyono-cho Government, writes about the February environment in Toyono-cho:

‘Here in Toyono-cho, it gets very cold and snows quite often.
This climate makes vegetables sweet and ambrosial!’

* * * * *

Indeed! When Toyono-cho residents make a pilgrimage to Manila this April  — to visit the places in Old Manila associated with Blessed Takayama — Trustees of Takayama will be waiting to welcome them!#

Dr. Ernesto A. de Pedro
Managing Trustee
Blessed Takayama Canonization Movement

All’s Set for the Manila Celebration of the First Feastday of Blessed Takayama (1552-1615) on February 3 – with Six Japanese Bishops Attending

First altar-statue of Blessed Takayama was enshrined at Paco Catholic Church (est. 1580) by Msgr. Rolando dela Cruz, Paco Parish Priest, on Dec. 21, 2017,

►The ‘Samurai of Christ,’ Justo Takayama, is the third Beatus (Blessed) of the Philippines, his adopted country. Under the rubrics of the Catholic Church, “where one dies, is where one is born to Heaven.” Thus, Blessed Takayama is a “Son of Manila.” He was proposed for sainthood by the Manila Archdiocese on Oct. 5, 1630 – the first Catholic of heroic virtue to be proposed as saint by Manila – and he was a Japanese layman!

After Takayama’s Cause for Beatification had lain dormant for 333 years at the Vatican, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Japan (CBCJ) offered in 1963 – on the sidelines of the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965) — to revive the ancient cause and do the spadework. With the Philippine Church not having a native Filipino canonized a Saint yet, Manila Archbishop Rufino Cardinal Santos (1908-1973) – the Philippines’ first Cardinal — seconded the Takayama Cause to the Church of Japan on April 24, 1963.

Cardinal Rufino Santos — the Philippines’ first Cardinal — at the Vatican in 1963

In 12 years, the CBCJ’s Historical Committee produced the necessary supporting historical documents, all 30 chapters, and submitted these to the Jesuit General Postulator — in loose form — in 1975. These lay dormant – unread — for 11 years.

In a fortuitous development – a ‘happy accident’ —  Manila had a part in the final preparation of the Takayama ‘Positio’ when a Filipino layman, researching at the Vatican on the Japanese daimyo, Don Justo Ukondono, was asked by the Jesuit General Postulator to undertake the translation of the entire Takayama documents — written in German, Spanish, Portuguese, Latin, and Japanese — into English. When Prof. Ernesto A. de Pedro, of the UST Graduate School, completed this task in 1994, the Jesuit General Postulator, Fr. Paulo Molinari, SJ, acknowledged: “Thanks to your much appreciated collaboration, all the essential materials for this important ‘Cause’ are by now available.”

The 1994 ‘Positio’ on ‘Justus Takayama Ukon, Servus Dei’ (648p) was laser-printed by Dr. Ernesto A. de Pedro —  and shipped directly to the Jesuit General Postulator.

That first ‘Positio’ proposed beatification for Takayama, as a Confessor (not as a Martyr). For the first time in Japanese church history, a candidate for sainthood was being proposed as a Confessor. (All previous Japanese candidates for sainthood were Martyrs.) Also, Takayama’s ‘Cause’ was also being promoted – for the first time in Japanese church history — on an individual basis, not as part of a group. All the previous 42 Japanese Saints and 383 Blessed were group martyrs.

Cardinal Sin endorsed the Beatification Cause of Don Justo Takayama at a Synod on Family he was attending in Rome

In Rome, attending a Synod on Family, Manila Archbishop Jaime Cardinal Sin endorsed the Cause of Beatification for the ‘Samurai of Christ,’ Justo Takayama.

The Jesuit General Postulator, Fr. Paulo Molinari, SJ, submitted the bookbound ‘Positio’ — “Justus Takayama Ukon, Servus Dei” (1994, 648p) — to the Congregation for the Causes of Saints (CCS). The Takayama ‘Positio’ was granted a “Nihil Obstat” on June 8, 1994, giving Takayama the title “Servant of God” — the first of three formal steps to Sainthood.

After surveying the path forward, the Japanese Bishops decided that a Cause of Martyrdom for the Servant of God, Justo Takayama, was the quicker pathway – not requiring a years-long examination of Takayama’s life and heroic virtues – going back to the day of his baptism at 12, through his many battles as a samurai-general, his record as a pillar of the early Church of Japan, and his death in Manila. They submitted that Takayama’s accumulated trials resulted in his death in Manila just 44 days after his arrival. A death by martyrdom.

Pope Francis issued a Decree of Martyrdom (Jan. 21, 2016) declaring Takayama as a “loyal Japanese layman, who was martyred in Manila in 1615.” The Japanese Bishops quickly shared the development 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.”

Bypassing the prescribed second step – Venerable — Takayama was beatified on Feb. 7, 2017 in Osaka (the prefecture where Takayama was baptized) – as the 426th Japanese Martyr venerated in the Roman Catholic Church – and the third Blessed of the Philippine Church.

Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle of Manila was the only other Cardinal invited by the Church of Japan to join Cardinal Angelo Amato, SDB, Prefect of the Congregation of the Causes of Saints, at the Concelebrated Mass at the historic Takayama Beatification Rites.#

Dr. Ernesto A. de Pedro
Takayama Trustee

Headline in Polish: “Boży samuraj” Ukon Takayama powrócił do ojczyzny

The first altar statue of Blessed Takayama, carved by Paete artist Paloy Cagayat, was installed at the Paco Catholic Church on Dec. 21, 2017 by Rev. Msgr. Rolando dela Cruz, Paco parish priest.

►”Błogosławiony Ukon Takayama pojawia się w momencie, gdy Kosciół w Japonii jest dotknięty kryzysem, atakowany, jak na całym świecie, przez globalną cywilizację relatywizmu moralnego i wieloznaczności ról i postaw (…) Banita wraca do kraju, w którym liczba chrześcijan jest znikoma – pisze dla KAI o. Zygmunt Kwiatkowski, jezuita.”

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Outreach Through Takayama Website

A devotee of Blessed Takayama in Poland said he learned about the ‘Samurai of Christ’ through Polish newspapers and the Takayama website – <www.takayamaukon.com> — which is the only Takayama website in English. Aside from audiences in the Philippines, the United States and Japan — there’s some interest too in: ►Singapore; ►Australia; ►Hong Kong; ►Brazil; ►Poland; ►Canada and ►Romania. (These are the Top Ten countries visiting the Takayama website.)

Lord Takayama was a celebrated Christian Daimyo — who placed God above all else, offending his overlords who demanded loyalty over everyone else.

For the first celebration of the Feastday of Blessed Takayama – set in the Church’s liturgical calendar on February 3, Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle and the Apostolic Nuncio, Archbishop Gabriele Giordano Caccia will concelebrate Mass at the Manila Cathedral on Saturday, Feb. 3, at 11:00 AM with other Filipino Bishops and clergy. Also on hand are: ►Archbishop Joseph Mitsuaki Takami (Nagasaki), ►Archbishop Tarcisio Isao Kikuchi, SVD (ex-Niigata, now Tokyo), ►Bishop Paul Yoshinao Otsuka (Kyoto), ►Bishop Bernard Taiji Katsuya (Sapporo), ►Bishop Paul Kenjiro Koriyama (Kagoshima), and ►Bishop Berard Toshio Oshikawa, OFM (Naha). (That’s ONE THIRD of Japan’s 18 Bishops.)

While earning acclaim as a valiant samurai-general, Lord Takayama was also a pillar of the early Church of Japan — builder of churches and seminaries across Japan.

In addition to the six Japanese prelates, a 60-man ‘Takayama Pilgrimage Group’ will be flying in from Japan – composed of six priests, Sisters and other ‘Consecrated Persons.’#

By Dr. Ernesto de Pedro
Managing Trustee
Blessed Justo Takayama Canonization Movement

Philippine Catholic Mass Media Tackles the Challenges of Mass Communications in a Digital World

Organized by Signis Philippines, Jesuit Communications Foundation, TV Maria, Catholic Media Network, Pauline Sisters, and Radio Veritas, the panel discussion also featured ♦ Bishop Mylo Hubert Vergara, chairman of the CBCP Commission on Social Communications, ♦ John Nery of the Philippine Daily Inquirer, and ♦ Howie Severino of GMA Network 7 as reactors. (Photo by Aida M. de Pedro).#

Signis Philippines has spearheaded a forum open to all Catholic media practitioners to understand and appreciate the challenge of social media. New digital media have allowed everyone who has access the ability to publish their own content and choose what matters to them.
They have considerably changed journalism and the public space where information is derived.
How can church groups use these digital platforms to spread ‘The Word” Or their application in the promotion of Causes for Beatification and Canonization, for instance?

Keynote Address by Cardinal Tagle
The keynote address for the forum on “Catholic Media in Challenging Times” on Jan. 19, 2018, was delivered by Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle at the Layforce Auditorium, San Carlos Seminary, Guadalupe in Makati City.

Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle gives the keynote talk at a panel discussion on “Catholic Media in Challenging Times” at the Layforce Auditorium, San Carlos Seminary, Guadalupe, Makati City, Jan. 19, 2018.#

He recalled the prescient observations on mass communications media that were included in the records of Vatican Council II (convened as a means of spiritual renewal for the Catholic Church, 1962-1965), written in 1963 before the emergence of many of today’s digital media, evaluating the challenges, opportunities and pitfalls of new information technologies.
While he praised social media and its great potential for evangelization, Cardinal Tagle observed that modern man’s immersion in the digital world could be leading him back to silence and reflection.
Tagle also conceded that while social media opens up opportunities for “solidarity, growing in unity” as well as the “deepening of faith through prayer and through formation,” constant digital exposure has a downside. “…There are also some threats. Being hooked constantly is the contemporary version of ‘noise.’ You don’t hear any noise, but you are constantly being bugged… It is the new form of noise, the lack of silence,” he explained partly in Filipino.
The prelate related how a priest revealed that whereas previously, the first thing he did in the morning was to pray, now it is to check his cellphone for messages.

Warnings from 1963

The Manila Cardinal pointed out how as early as 1963, the Second Vatican Council was already calling on the faithful, particularly parents, “to help the youth learn moderation and self-control in the use of the means of social communications.”
“Now they’re talking about addiction to the gadgets and it is a form of addiction…,” said Tagle.

But as algorithms that can’t tell fact from fake news took over the critical editorial role of deciding what people see in the new public conversation spaces, they fostered the rise of a disinformation ecosystem that distributed falsehood: from the simply misleading (due to the rush to print or post) to outright fabrication.
The forum laid bare the nature of disinformation and misinformation online. It also urged constant vigilance in an age of selfies, bots, fake accounts, and trolls. It sought to promote a better understanding of how social media and other digital platforms work – which even Filipino Bishops two generations older than millennials, had to learn from scratch, with the help of such mentors as the tech-savvy Pauline Sisters (Daughters of St. Paul).# — Based in part on CBCPNews

How Did Fifth-Century Chant – ‘Te Deum Laudamus’ – Become the Battle Hymn of Japanese Martyrs?

►The “Te Deum” was an ancient hymn of praise to God. It began: “O GOD, WE PRAISE THEE: WE ACKNOWLEDGE THEE TO BE THE LORD!” According to legend, it was improvised antiphonally by St. Ambrose and St. Augustine at the latter’s baptism. It has more plausibly been attributed to Bishop Nicetas (d. 414 AD), bishop of Remesiana in present-day Serbia in the early fifth century.

It was the battle hymn of the “26 Martyrs of Nagasaki” (日本二十六聖人) as they walked barefoot in the snow – their left ears cut off, with some noses cut off too! — from Kyoto to their martyrdom in Nagasaki in Feb. 5, 1597 – along a scenic route of some 1,000 km passing through Sakai, Osaka, Hyogo, Akashi, Himeji, Okayama, Mihara, Hiroshima, Shimonoseki, Kokura, Shigashima, Hakata, Tokitsu, and finally, Nishizaka (Nagasaki) — which the martyrs (including the Manila Franciscan missionary, St. Pedro Bautista (of San Francisco del Monte, in Quezon City) covered in 27 days.

Every Takayama-era Japanese Catholic prepared for martyrdom by memorizing the first parts by heart – understanding each difficult Latin phrase and its meaning. This was the arrival hymn of praise to God that ‘Lord Justus Takayama and his 350 Companions’ sang at the Santa Ana Church inside the Jesuit Compound (now PLM University Campus), when the Japanese exiles arrived on Sunday, Dec. 21, 1614.◘

Dr. Ernesto A. de Pedro
Takayama Trustee

The Fervor of Filipino Catholics Has Never Been In Doubt. Imagine What a ‘Second Coming’ Would Draw

When a Pope visits the Philippines, he draws some six to seven million Filipinos for the final Mass at the Luneta — larger than anywhere else in the world.  Pope Francis drew a crowd of up to seven million people, the largest ever for a papal event.

Vatican spokesman Fr. Federico Lombardi said the Office of the President told the Vatican that between six and seven million attended the Mass in Manila’s Rizal Park and surrounding areas. “We are not able to count all these people, obviously, or to verify this, but in any case, we have seen so many people that we believe that it is possible,” Lombardi shared with reporters.

“If this is true — and we think it is — this is the largest event in the history of the Popes,” he said, noting that an earlier pope, Pope John Paul, drew some five million to the same area in 1995.
With the terrible motor traffic in Manila, the threat of ill-willed elements, plus the rains — how do authorities, both Church and government, manage to pull off such an event?

Pope John Paul II’s helicopter flies 15 January 1995 over the huge crowd in Manila’s Luneta Park prior to celebrate an open-air mass to an estimated crowd of over two-million people gathered for the 10th World Youth Day congress. The pontiff was visiting from 11 to 21 January Philippines, Papua New Guinea, Australia and Sri Lanka. (it was his 63rd Internatinal Pastoral visit). AFP PHOTO JUN DAGMANG

Faced with tremendous logistical problems, they can never hope to field enough Portalets, nor enough plastic ponchos to ward off the rain – but they can count on an army of first-aid volunteers to be on the ready. It  is a demonstration of group dynamics at its best.

Wearing a transparent yellow poncho over his white cassock, the Pope was driven through the ecstatic crowd in a “popemobile” modified from a jeepney, the most popular mode of transport in the Philippines which is based on a U.S. military vehicle used in World War II.

He stopped often along the route to kiss children and bless religious statues on the day the Philippines celebrates the feast of the infant Jesus. The faithful, also wearing ponchos, held up rosaries in a forest of uplifted arms as he passed by.

Some people had waited all night for gates to open at dawn.

Traditional Life-long Devotions

Without the drawing power of a Pope – how do Catholic crowds rate?

Catholic devotees wave white handkerchiefs as they prepare for an annual procession of the black image of Jesus Christ, known as the Black Nazarene, Saturday, Jan. 9, 2010 in Manila, Philippines. Hundreds of thousands of Filipino Catholic devotees seeking redemption from sins, miracle cures for illnesses and a better life poured into the streets of the Philippine capital in the procession to honor a centuries-old dark image of Jesus Christ. (AP Photo/Bullit Marquez)

The Procession of the Black Nazarene – on January 9 at Quiapo Church in Manila – draws some two million devotees. The Black Nazarene is a life-sized statue of Christ, carried through town by barefooted men yelling, “Viva Señor, while huge crowdd try to touch the statue. The statue was bought by a priest from Mexico and brought to Manila in 1606. Since 1787 the statue has been housed at Quiapo.

Huge crowds attend in the hope of being able to touch the statue, or its processional carriage, in the hopes of bringing good luck to themselves.

Local media reported that – at its height — the throngs reach an estimated five million people at its height. Because of the crowds, the procession, which is some 6.7 km long, takes around 20 hours to complete. The procession is expected to return to the statue’s home base, the Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene, at around midnight local time.◘

Dr. Ernesto A. de Pedro
Takayama Trustee

New Artwork about Blessed Takayama de Manila by Filipino Artists

A painting of Blessed Justo Takayama made in Japan by a Filipino artist John Andrew Sustaita, of Real Catholic Art
A painting of Blessed Takayama de Manila made in Japan by Filipino artist John Andrew Sustaita, of Real Catholic Art

►This painting of Blessed Justo Takayama de Manila was made by John Andrew Sustaita, owner of Real Catholic Art in Manila. Note that the venerated Martyr wears a halo, but not the ‘Palm of Martyrdom.’

This poster/painting of Blessed Takayama de Manila was created by a team of U.S.T. Seminarians led by Elson Santos, who exhibited it during the Fourth Philippine Conference on New Evangelization (PCNE-4) on July 24-28, 2017 at the U.S.T. Campus.

Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle extols the importance of Blessed Takayama de Manila to the bilateral relations between Japan and the Philippines
On Feb. 7, 2017 — Beatification of Lord Takayama in Osaka — Photographer Robert Queddeng visited the Takayama Memorial at Plaza Dilao to take this memento picture. Since then, the statue has been wrapped in mufti and caged with a wire screen — as construction for Skyway-3 Overpass proceeds. By then, the statue had stood at Plaza Dilao for 40 years, collecting grime and dust from the street traffic.
Different artists, different interpretations. Can your art group re-imagine this revered figure of Philippine-Japanese history? Email these to us.

Altar Statue of Blessed Takayama, carved by the celebrated Paete artist, Paloy Cagayat, was installed on Dec. 21, 2017 at the Paco Catholic Church (est. 1580), Manila — showing Ukon with ‘Palm of Martyrdom’ and a metal halo. The Paco Catholic Church is in the pastoral care of Msgr. Rolando R. dela Cruz, parish priest, and Fr. Carlo del Rosario, parochial vicar.#

The Takayama Altar Statue was borrowed by the Manila Cathedral for the Feb. 3, 2018 Thanksgiving Mass marking Takayama’s first Feastday as ‘Beatus’ (Blessed).
Blessed Takayama portrait made by +Noel Velez at his Tokyo hospital bed.

Imploring Blessed Takayama’s intercession for his healing — on just the basis of an ‘estampita’ (prayer card), Noel Velez (b. 1951) decided to make his own portraits of what he imagined the celebrated ‘Kirishitan Samurai’ looked like. A Tokyo-based Filipino, Noel Velez was familiar with the lore about this martyred Japanese Christian of great heroic virtue. He prayed fervently — even after his doctors told his family there was no hope from the hospital treatment. Noel died Jan. 14, 2018.

His widow, Puchie Gan, compiled his art works into a slim booklet — and presented this to Cardinal Tagle after the Mass celebrating ther first Feastday of Blessed Takayama.

Another work by +Noel Velez.

Photos of new artwork (even old ones) about Blessed Takayama may be emailed to <blessedtakayama@gmail.com> or <ernestodepedro@gmail.com> so we can share them on this blog.◘

Dr. Ernie A. de Pedro
Takayama Trustee

A Triumphant Welcome for Blessed Takayama at Paco Catholic Church, Manila

The Thanksgiving Mass was celebrated by Rev. Msgr. Rolando dela Cruz, Paco parish priest -- with seven priests from three nations concelebrating.
The Thanksgiving Mass was celebrated by Rev. Msgr. Rolando dela Cruz, Paco parish priest — with seven priests from four nations concelebrating.

(Photo credit: Robert Queddeng)

►For the first time in 403 years, Paco Parish Church (est. 1580) commemorated the Dec. 21, 1614 arrival of Justo Ucondono (Lord Justo Takayama Ukon) – and ‘350 Japanese Christian Exiles.’

A halo -- symbolizing the holiness of Saints and Angels -- was added by Msgr. R. dela Cruz.
A halo — symbolizing the holiness of Saints and Angels — was added by Msgr. R. dela Cruz.

The Thanksgiving Mass was concelebrated by Rev. Msgr. Rolando de la Cruz, parish priest – with seven other priests: ♦ Fr. Carlo del Rosario, parochial vicar; ♦ Fr. Iwao Ikegami, FMVD; ♦ Fr. Vincent Guinoo, FMVD; ♦ Fr. Antonius Harnoko, CICM (a Tagalog-speaking Indonesian missionary in Ofunato, Iwate Prefecture); ♦ Fr. Luke Moortgat, CICM; ♦ Fr. Celso Alcantara, and ♦ Fr. Wilfredo C. Talavera.

After the Mass, memento photos were taken of the eight concelebrants, with Dr. and Mrs. Ernesto A. de Pedro, Takayama Trustees.
After the Mass, memento photos were taken of the eight concelebrants, with Dr. and Mrs. Ernesto A. de Pedro, Takayama Trustees. Members of mandated Catholic organizations similarly took souvenir photos. Then parishioners were allowed to take ‘selfies.’

The Japanese contingent of Manila-based nuns was made up of: Sr. Therese Fukatani, of the Congregation of Marie Auxiliatrice (MA); Sr. Kinue Maura, MA; and Sr. Ma. Therese Chiba, of the Handmaids of the Sacred Heart of Jesus (ACI), and lay Japanese: Masako Yamamoto; Mrs. Risa (Ishii) Peralejo, and Sakiko Ishida.

The Paco parishioners' response was superb -- and augurs well for the spread of devotion to Blessed Takayaa de Manila.
The Paco parishioners’ response was superb — and augurs well for the spread of devotion to Blessed Takayama de Manila.

The San Fernando de Dilao Parish in Paco counts with 27,000 parishioners (according to census data of 2010 — but Msgr. Dela Cruz estimates the number in 2017 at 95,000) — making Paco PARISH larger than any DIOCESE in Japan: ►Archbishop Joseph Mitsuaki Takami (Nagasaki – 67,729 Catholics), ►Bishop Paul Yoshinao Otsuka (Kyoto – 19,198), ►Bishop Bernard Taiji Katsuya (Sapporo – 17,993), ►Bishop Tarcisio Isao Kikuchi, SVD (Niigata – 7,711), ►Bishop Paul Kenjiro Koriyama (Kagoshima – 9,291), and ►Bishop Berard Toshio Oshikawa, OFM (Naha – 6,118). (It should be noted that the Paco Catholic School, adjacent to the church, has the largest student enrollment among Catholic schools in the Philippines.)

This statue, carved by the celebrated Paete artist Paloy Cagayat, was financed with contributions from the family and relatives of Dr. E. A. de Pedro — who wanted the honor of producing the first Takayama statue in the Philippines. It is the first Takayama altar statue with the ‘Palm of Martyrdom’ – and a saintly halo. ◘

Dr. Ernesto A. de Pedro
Lord  Takayama Jubilee Foundation