►Held from February 3-7, 1937, the 33rd International Eucharistic Congress attracted Catholic pilgrims from around the world. It marked the first time a Catholic Cardinal set foot on the Philippines – Philadelphia Cardinal Dennis Joseph Cardinal Dougherty (1865-1951), who formerly served as Bishop of Nueva Segovia (1903–1908) and Jaro (1908–1915).
Easily the most colorful delegation was from Japan, attending its first pilgrimage outside Japan since freedom of religion in was guaranteed by the Meiji Constitution (明治憲法) which was proclaimed on Feb. 11, 1889.
Provindentially, the 5-day Congress started on Wednesday, Feb. 3, the 322nd anniversary of the deathday of Dom Justo Ukon Takayama (高山右近, 1552 Osaka-1615 Manila) – identified by Fr. Repetti as “Justo Ukón-dono Tacayawa.”
Fr. Repetti shares his account of the last day of the Congress:
►On the last morning of the Eucharistic Congress, a little ceremony took place which was interesting but attracted scarcely any notice.
It commenced at the Jesuit Church of St. Ignatius (San Ignacio Church-II) in the Walled City [Intramuros] and ended at St. Theresa College on San Marcelino St., Ermita (now the site of Adamson University).
To understand its significance, it is necessary to give the historical background.
It is well known that the Church of Japan suffered one of its fiercest persecutions in the 17th century — a persecution which wiped out all external evidence of the faith. In 1614, a large group of Japanese Catholics chose exile from their native land rather than deny their faith and they found refuge in Manila. Accompanying this band of confessors there were eight Jesuit priests and 15 lay Brothers, four Franciscan friars, and two Dominican friars.
The Governor-General of the Philippines, Don Juan de Silva (in office: April 1609 – April 19, 1616), and the Archbishop of Manila, Don Diego Vázquez de Mercado (r. May 28, 1608 – June 12, 1616), gave the party a royal welcome, and they established their homes in a suburb of Manila known as San Miguel. It was located on the southside of the Pasig river whereas San Miguel of the present time is on the north bank. The Jesuits had a church in San Miguel and ministered to the spiritual needs of the exiles.
By far the most prominent layman among the exiles was Justo Ukon-dono Tacayawa (sic) [Takayama]. He was born in 1552 and was baptized in 1563 by the first Japanese Jesuit. Brother Lorenzo, who had been baptized by St. Francis Xavier (1506-1552) and received the name Justo. His father and mother were received into the Church the same year.
He became a military leader and then lord (daimyo) of Takatsuki, and later on, of Akashi. His greatest distinction rests on his strong faith and ardent zeal. He converted all those around him and all those who came into contact with him. Fr. Luis Fróis, SJ (1532 – 1597) said that “among our proselytizers, he had the greatest success in gathering sheep into the Holy Flock.”
Forty-four days after arriving in Manila, he contracted a fever and died on Feb. 3, 1615 at the age of 63. His obsequies took place in the Jesuit Church in Manila (i.e., Santa Ana Church in the present-day PLM /Jesuit Campus) and all possible honor was shown to him on this occasion. He was interred in the place reserved for the Jesuit provincials of the Province of the Philippines. Twenty years later, his bones were placed in an urn and transferred to the Chapel of the St. Ignatius University which adjoined the Jesuit church. In the course of time, the Church, the University, and all Jesuit property disappeared or were scattered. What became of Don Justo’s remains is not known.
Ukon-dono brought his wife Justa and five grandsons into exile, and he was also accompanied by an intimate friend and great Christian, Juan Tocuan Naito (1544-1626). He died in 1626 and was buried with honors in our church in Manila. His sister, Mother Julia Naito, shared her brother’s exile and erected a convent in San Miguel in which she passed a strict religious life as superioress of 13 Japanese women. She died on March 28, 1627.
The Japanese Catholics have always cherished the memory of these sufferers for the faith and have desired to show honor to them. A fitting opportunity of fulfilling their desires seemed to offer itself on the occasion of the Eucharistic Congress in Manila. When the Japanese delegation left Nagasaki, Bishop Hayakawa bestowed his blessing and urged them to find the burial place of the famous exiles and mark them to show in an appropriate manner.
Peter Yakichi Kataoka of the Franciscan Seminary in Nagasaki undertook the task of ascertaining the locations of such special interest to the Japanese. He came to the Manila Observatory, and the writer [Fr. W. C. Repetti] was able to give him sufficient information to justify the placing of historical markers.
The site occupied by the Jesuit Church and University in the 17th century is now occupied by the United States Army and the erection of any monument or marker in that place would involve considerable negotiations and would have been immediately impossible in the short time available.
The pilgrims wished to do something in honor of their heroes during their visit to Manila.
Since they wished the commemoration to have some connection with the Society of Jesus, it was suggested that St. Ignatius Church-II, only a short distance from the old site, be selected as the place to do honor to the memory of Ukon-dono. The suggestion was satisfactory to the pilgrims, and Fr. John F. Hurley, the Jesuit superior, readily gave his approval.
On Sunday morning, February 7, a group of about 20 pilgrims gathered in front of the St. Ignatius Church and grouped themselves around the memorial column where some pictures were taken. Rev. (later Cardinal) Paul Yoshigoro Taguchi, co-leader of the Eucharistic pilgrims, was present, as also was Fr. Washida from Nagasaki. The Japanese Vice-Consul and his wife lent an official tone to the assembly. Fr. Hurley, SJ, Fr. Emmet Creahan, and Fr. W. C. Repetti, SJ, were invited to join the group.
The memorial took the form of a wooden column about six inches square and eight feet long. This was the only thing possible in the short time available. The Japanese inscription was painted on one side and a brief English translation was painted on another side, as follows: “Memorial to Justo Ukon-dono, Catholic Japanese exile. Died Feb. 3, 1615.” The wooden monument is to be attached to the wall of the San Ignacio Church-II and the Japanese hope to raise funds in Japan to substitute a more enduring memorial.
The pilgrims then went to the old site of the Jesuit church and University where Ukon-dono and Naito had been buried. Thence they went to the Franciscan Church and erected another column in the patio of the convent in honor of the Japanese who found hospitality there in 1620.
From there the pilgrims proceeded to St. Theresa College and erected a column in one of its patios to the memory of Mother Julia Naito and her nuns.
Father Washida remarked: “Now we can go home contented.”
~ Fr. W. C. Repetti, SJ, in “A Tercentennial Commemoration in Manila during the 33rd International Eucharistic Congress,” Feb. 3-7, 1937 | Woodstock Letters, Volume LXVI, No. 2, June 1, 1937
►DOM JUSTO UKON TAKAYAMA (高山右近, 1552-1615) — Born in Toyono-cho, Osaka, Japan in 1552; baptized at Sawa Castle on June 1, 1563 at age 11; became Daimyo (feudal governor) of Takatsuki, Osaka at age 21; transferred to a larger governorship in Akashi Prefecture in 1585; s stripped of his domain by Chancellor Toyotomi Hideyoshi for refusing to abjure his Catholic faith on July 24, 1587; imparted by Pope Sixtus V with an Apostolic Blessing on April 24, 1590 “to hold on to the Faith”; and spent 27 years in domestic exile in Kanazawa.#
►On Nov. 8, 1614, Ukon was deported to Manila with his family of seven and 350 other Christian refugees and migrants, arriving on Sunday, Dec. 21, 1614. Ukon and his family were accommodated at the Jesuit guesthouse “Casa San Miguel” at the PLM/Jesuit Compound in Intramuros, Manila, while the other Japanese expatriates were resettled in the Jesuit “encomienda” in San Miguel, Manila. Forty-four days after arrival, Ukon died of “a tropical ailment” on Tuesday, Feb. 3, 1615.#
►On Oct. 5, 1630, the Manila Archdiocese proposed to the Vatican the beatification of Ukon — the first Manila Catholic to be proposed by the Philippine Church. On Jan 5, 1995, Justo was recognized as a “Servant of God”; on Jan. 21. 2016, Pope Francis issued a Decree of Martyrdom; on Feb. 7, 2017, Ukon was beatified as Japan’s 426th Martyr and the Philippines Church’s THIRD Blessed.#
►The Canonization Cause of Blessed Takayama is promoted by several Catholic movements in several countries, but only the Manila-based “Prayer Warriors of Blessed Takayama” have been imparted by Pope Francis with his Apostolic Blessing. Invoking Blessed Takayama, we pray fervently to be worthy channels of God’s Grace under the battle standard of Blessed Takayama – praying for ONE validating miracle to cinch Ukon’s Canonization.🙏💖🙏 Amen.#
Dr. Ernesto A. de Pedro, PhD
Recipient, Pope Francis’ Apostolic Blessing No. 404.467
►In 1585, the Imperial Regent (Kampaku) Toyotomi Hideyoshi (豐臣 秀吉/豊臣 秀吉, March 17, 1537–Sept. 18, 1598) — who is regarded as the second “Great Unifier” of Japan — dropped by the Jesuit seminary in Osaka, accompanied by a son and a brother of the late Oda Nobunaga, and several other lords, and held a “long and familiar conversation” with Fr. Gregorio de Céspedes, SJ (1551–1611), the Superior.#
“You know,” he told the priest, “that everything in your law [Christian religion] contents me, and I find no other difficulty in it, except its prohibition of having more than one wife. Were it not for that, I would become a Christian at once.”
~ James Murdoch, “A History of Japan,” Vol. 2, p. 214 (New York: Frederick Unger Publishing Co., 1903, 1964).#
►TO BE CLEAR: The celebrated “Samurai of Christ,” Dom Justo Ukon Takayama (高山右近, 1552-Osaka-1615 Manila) — known at the Vatican as “Dom Justo Ucondono” — never set foot on Europe, but he had a wide footprint there – in books and theater plays. Europe, which was the source of all Jesuit missionaries sent to Japan, was fascinated with all things Japanese … and its most illustrious Catholic convert.
►Ever since the Italian merchant Marco Polo (1254-1324) wrote about Japan (which he called “Zipangu”) in his book 📖 “The Travels of Marco Polo” (Venice: c1300), describing his travels through Asia between 1271 and 1295, the Western World has been fascinated with a kingdom no one had yet visited. Marco Polo was the first European to write about Japan but it is unlikely that he visited Japan at all. Most likely his accounts were based on what he heard about Japan in China from sailors involved in the failed Mongol invasions of Japan (元寇, Genkō), which took place in 1274 and 1281, when Kublai Khan of the Yuan dynasty attempted to conquer Japan. Marco’s account of the Mongol invasion of Japan is very sketchy because he heard of the invasion only from the Mongols.
The first three Europeans to arrive in Japan in 1543 were Portuguese traders who landed by accident at the southern tip of Tanegashima, where they would introduce the arquebus firearm to the local population, who eventually reconfigured it into the Tanegashima (種子島), a matchlock gun that changed warfare in the Japanese archipelago. Within ten years of its introduction upwards of 300,000 tanegashima were reported to have been manufactured. The tanegashima eventually became one of the most important weapons in Japan.
►With Dom Justo Ukon Takayama considered by the Jesuits as the greatest Japanese missionary of the sixteenth century, the Jesuits who were all Europeans brought the fame and heroic virtues of Lord Takayama throughout Europe: 🔸Italy, 🔸Spain, 🔸England, 🔸France, 🔸Germany, 🔸Austria, 🔸Switzerland, and 🔸Belgium. It is odd that there is no imprint from Portugal where most of the early Jesuit missionaries originated.
►1590 — Pope Sixtus V (r. 1585-1590) — Apostolic “Breve” (*photo of present-day print-out) dated April 24, 1590 imparted to Dom Justo Ucondono, when Lord Takayama was stripped of his feudal domain in Akashi Prefecture on June 24, 1587 for refusing to abjure his Christian faith.
►1617 – P. Pedro Morejon, SJ, 📖 “Lettera annua del Giapone del MDCXIV” | al Molto Reuerendo Padre Mvtio Vitelleschi | Generale della Compagnua di GIESv.cion. Scritta del Padre Pietro Morecion della Compagnia di Giesv. (Roma, Per Basttolomeo Zanuzzi, MDCXVII.
This was a biography of Takayama Ukon written in Spanish by Ukon’s Spanish father-confessor, Fr. Pedro Morejon, SJ, and first published in Barcelona, then translated into English by Fr. William Wright, SJ. As the Jesuits were banned in England since 1604, this was published by the underground Jesuit press in St. Omer, France. All these — within four years of Takayama’s death in Manila!
►1646 — P. Antonio Francisco Cardim, SJ (1596-1659) – 📖 “Fasciculus e Japonicis Floribus, suo adhuc madentibus Sanguine” (Japanese Flowers Still Dripping with Blood). Rome, 1646
►1663 — Colin/Pastells, 📖 “Labor Evangelica, ministerios apostolicos de los obreros de la Compañia de Iesvs, fvndacion, y progressos de su provincia en las islas Filipinas” by Colín, Francisco (1592-1660; first published 1663); and copiously annotated by Fr. Pablo Pastells, SJ (1846-1932), eds. Barcelona: 1900.
►1663-1742 – USE OF JESUIT THEATER PLAYS TO PROMOTE TAKAYAMA — By 1600, the Jesuits had over 200 schools, universities, and seminaries, most if not all of which offered some kind of public performance as part of the educational process. By 1706, that number had increased to 769 schools all over the world. In some parts of Europe, the Jesuits held a virtual monopoly on education, including parts of France, Austria, southern Germany, and Spain. And almost without exception, all of those schools performed plays, resulting in a huge body of dramatic literature and numerous public and private performances. According to Robert S. Miola, in the seventeenth century, “at least one hundred thousand (100,000) Jesuit dramas played on European stages.” (“Early Modern Catholicism: An Anthology of Primary Sources,” 2007, 329).
The performers and the audiences alike were the school’s students, although parents, patrons, and other personages of note would be invited to attend certain performances as well. Cardinal Richelieu, Cardinal Mazarin, and Louis XIV were all supporters and regular patrons of Jesuit drama in France.
►1663 – First Jesuit play 🎭 about Lord Takayama is presented this year. Even an incomplete survey of the plays about Takayama shows how his fame spread throughout Europe, and played a role in the development of European drama.
Based on the research of Fr. John Baptist Muller, SJ (📖 “The Jesuit Drama,” Augsburg, 1930), and Fr. Thomas Imoos, SMB (professor of German Literature at Sophia University), the Takayama plays were presented from 1663 to 1742.
►1663 – Munich (Germany) — 🎭 Takayama play (presentation title, not indicated).
►1666 – Vienna (Austria) — 🎭 Takayama play (presentation title, not indicated).
►1673 — Cornelius Hazart, SJ (1617-1690) — 📚 “Kerckelijke Historie van de Geheele Werelt…” (Religious History of the Whole World), Vienna: 1673.
►1673 – Landshut, Bavaria, Germany — 🎭 Takayama play (presentation title, not indicated).
►1682 – Lucerne (Switzerland) — 🎭 Takayama play (presentation title, not indicated).
►1689 – Winnocx (Belgium) — 🎭 Takayama play (presentation title, not indicated).
►1691 — Kortryjk (Belgium) — 🎭 Takayama play (presentation title, not indicated).
►1698 – Sint Winchsbergen — 🎭 Takayama play (presentation title, not indicated).
►1698 — Kortryjk — 🎭 Takayama play (presentation title, not indicated).
►1724 – Ellwangen — 🎭 Takayama play (presentation title, not indicated).
►1742 — Solothurn — 🎭 Takayama play (presentation title, not indicated).
►1775 – St. Alphonsus Ligouri, 📚”Victories of the Martyrs: Or, the Lives of the Most Celebrated Martyrs of the Church” (1775, 1887, 1954). Researching at the Vatican Archives, Fr. (later, Saint) Alphonsus Maria de Ligouri, CSsR (1696-1787) — “patron saint of journalists” – studied the Takayama papers and concluded that, despite dying in bed surrounded by family, Takayama was truly a martyr.
►1806 — Johann Michael Haydn (1737-1806, “Oratorio for Takayama” (1806). A music researcher at the British Library shared there was a chorus in honor of Takayama composed by the Austrian composer Johann Michael Haydn (1737-1806), younger brother of the more famous composer, Joseph Haydn (1732-1809) who was the most celebrated composer in Europe. The younger Haydn composed a chorus honoring Takayama. “It features a composite of Takayama and Titus,” Fr. Thomas Imoos, SMB (1918-2001) notes. Researchers in Takatsuki, Osaka Prefecture, Japan tracked this down in Salzburg, studied the music, and had a choir sing at a symposium in Takatsuki.
►1912 — MANRESA MOSAIC (1912) – There was a portrait of Takayama Ukon that was part of a mosaic on the nave of the church at the Santa Cueva in Manresa, Spain – which was first published in black & white in the “Tribune” in Manila in September 1942.
►This mosaic depicted six Catholic noblemen who were all products of the Jesuits’ famed 30-day “Spiritual Exercises,” namely:🔸the Bourbon king of France, Louis XIII, holding the book “Exercitia Spiritualia”;🔸Don Alvaro de Cordoba, a Spanish grandee whose public life was much influenced by the Jesuit manual;🔸the Hapsburg prince, Don Juan de Austria (1545-1578) — half-brother of Philip II, king of Spain — familiar to Filipinos as the victor of the Battle of Lepanto (1571);🔸Lord Justo Takayama Ukon (identified in the mosaic as “Justo Ucandono”);🔸Marques de Villapuente, renowned in Mexico, Africa and Europe for his charities; and🔸Don Lupercio de Arbizu, the Aragon nobleman who was persuaded by the Jesuits to build Manresa into a city.#
Dr. Ernesto A. de Pedro, PhD
Prayer Warriors of Blessed Takayama
►A “bridge of faith and martyrdom” links the “Kirishitan Samurai,” Justo Ukon Takayama (1552-1615), Japan’s greatest lay missionary in the 16th century, who died in Manila in 1615, with San Lorenzo Ruiz (1594-1637), Filipino protomartyr who died in Nagasaki in 1637. “Martyrdom is the deepest link between our two churches,” Cardinal-Bishop Luis Antonio Tagle, Cardinal Prefect of the Evangelization of Peoples (“Propaganda Fide”), has said.
In a Eucharistic Mass with Japanese Catholics in Kobe, Japan on Feb. 3, 2016, then-Manila Archbishop Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle said the Philippines, especially Manila, and Japan are linked through a “bridge of faith and martyrdom.”
On Feb. 7, 2017, Cardinal Tagle concelebrated the Mass during the Beatification Ceremonies at the Osaka-jō Hall, Kyōbashi, Osaka (Japan), which was presided by Cardinal Angelo Amato, SDB, Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints (CCS), on Pope Francis’s behalf.
Saint Lorenzo Ruiz
►Lorenzo was born in Manila of a Chinese father and a Filipino mother, both Christians. Thus he learned Chinese and Tagalog from them, and Spanish from the Dominicans whom he served as altar boy and sacristan. He became a professional calligrapher, transcribing documents in beautiful penmanship. He was a full member of the Confraternity of the Holy Rosary under Dominican auspices. He married and had two sons and a daughter.
Lorenzo’s life took an abrupt turn when he was accused of murder. Nothing further is known except the statement of two Dominicans that “he was sought by the authorities on account of a homicide at which he was present or which was attributed to him.”
At that time, three Dominican priests, Antonio Gonzalez, Guillermo Courtet, and Miguel de Aozaraza, were about to sail to Japan in spite of a violent persecution there. With them was a Japanese priest, Vicente Shiwozuka de la Cruz, and a layman named Lazaro, a leper. Lorenzo, having taken asylum with them, was allowed to accompany them. But only when they were at sea did he learn that they were going to Japan.
They landed at Okinawa. Lorenzo could have gone on to Formosa, but, he reported, “I decided to stay with the Fathers, because the Spaniards would hang me there.” In Japan they were soon found out, arrested, and taken to Nagasaki.
They were subjected to an unspeakable kind of torture: After huge quantities of water were forced down their throats, they were made to lie down. Long boards were placed on their stomachs and guards then stepped on the ends of the boards, forcing the water to spurt violently from mouth, nose and ears.
The superior, Fr. Gonzalez, died after some days. Both Fr. Shiwozuka and Lazaro broke under torture, which included the insertion of bamboo needles under their fingernails. But both were brought back to courage by their companions.
In Lorenzo’s moment of crisis, he asked the interpreter, “I would like to know if, by apostatizing, they will spare my life.” The interpreter was noncommittal, but in the ensuing hours Lorenzo felt his faith grow strong. He became bold, even audacious, with his interrogators.
Lorenzo’s persecutors gave him an ultimatum, “Would you renounce your faith in God if we let you live?” To which Lorenzo bravely responded, “If I had one thousand lives, I’d give it all to Jesus. I would never deny my faith even if it costs my life.”
The five were put to death by being hanged upside down in pits. Boards fitted with semi-circular holes were fitted around their waists and stones put on top to increase the pressure. They were tightly bound, to slow circulation and prevent a speedy death. They were allowed to hang for three days. By that time Lorenzo and Lazaro were dead. Still alive, the three priests were then beheaded.
In 1987, Pope John Paul II canonized these six and 10 others: Asians and Europeans, men and women, who spread the faith in the Philippines, Formosa, and Japan. Lorenzo Ruiz is the first canonized Filipino martyr. The Liturgical Feast of Saint Lorenzo Ruiz and Companions is September 28.
Hikogorō Takayama (彦五郎).was born in 1552, scion of the castellan of Sawa Castle in Yamato Province, Tomoteru Takayama (高山友照, 1531–1596), an ardent Buddhist who persecuted the early Jesuit missionaries. But in a series of discussions with Bro. Lorenzo, a half-blind Jesuit brother, he was convinced of the tenets of Christianity, and converted with his family and retinues at Sawa Castle. Hikogorō, 11, was baptized Justo, after St. Justin the Martyr, on whose feast day on June 1, 1563 Justo was baptized.
Dom Dario Tomoteru Takayama was awarded the Takatsuki Castle, but the old man decided to turn over the domain to his eldest son Ukon, who at age 21, ruled Takatsuki foe the next 11 years.
In Takatsuki, Lord Justo Ukon Takayama (高山右近) used his resources to build churches, oratorios and a seminary for the Jesuits – to the chagrin of the Buddhist advisers of Chancellor Toyotomi Hideyoshi (豐臣 秀吉/豊臣 秀吉, 1537 – 1598).
His troubles coincided with the persecution of Christians in Japan, which started on July 24-25, 1587. He received a message from Hideyoshi asking him to give up his faith or lose his fief and position in the latter’s army. He replied that while he had made an oath of allegiance to Hideyoshi, he was prepared to give up wealth, position and power to follow a greater lord, Jesus Christ.
Stripped of his Akashi domain, he became a ronin — a masterless samurai — who found protection with a Christian Daimyo, Admiral Augustine Konishi Yukinaga who, despite being a Christian, was needed by Hideyoshi to realize his conquest of Korea. With the tacit consent of Hideyoshi, Ukon was hired as a guest-general by Kaga Daimyo Toshiee Maeda, where he served until the final edict of February 1614, deporting him to either Macau or Manila.
Takayama left Kanazawa on Feb. 15, 1614, and after a 150-day journey in the winter, he arrived in Nagasaki where he boarded a boat for Manila on Nov. 8, 1614.
Takayama arrived in Manila on Dec. 21, 1614, and was literally greeted with open arms by the Spanish governor-general, Juan de Silva (r. 1609-1616). Justo Ucondono was accompanied by 350 Catholic deportees, including: his wife Lady Justa Kuroda Takayama (1563-?), a daughter, Lucia Takayama Yokoyama married to Yokoyama Daizen Yasuharu (1590-1645), a general of the Maeda clan; five grandchildren (the eldest 16, the youngest almost eight); and 💥23 Jesuits (eight Jesuit fathers and 15 Jesuit brothers), 💥four Franciscan fathers, 💥two Dominican fathers, 💥two Augustinian fathers, and 💥two secular fathers, 💥the 15 nuns (14 Japanese, one Korean) of the Jesuit-chaplained “Beatas de Meaco” or “Miyako no Bikuni” (Nuns of Kyoto, 1615-1656), 💥about 100 Japanese catechists, and 💥two dozen sons and daughters of Japanese noble families.
Sometime in January 1615, Takayama fell ill. He died of “a tropical ailment” four days later, on Tuesday, Feb. 3, 1615 — only 44 days after his arrival in Manila on Sunday, Dec. 21, 1614. He was buried near the High Altar of the Jesuit church in Intramuros – Santa Ana Church – at the PLM /Jesuit Compound.
Cardinal Angelo Amato, SDB, 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.”
Writing about the “greatest Japanese missionary in the 16th century,” Fr. Anton Witwer, SJ, Jesuit General Postulator who promoted Takayama’s Cause, said: “Four hundred years have passed since the death of Justus Takayama Ukon (1552 Osaka-1615 Manila), remembered and revered in Japan not only as a martyr, but also as a great witness to the Christian faith, which he practiced in connection with the mission of the Society of Jesus.
“He was the greatest Japanese missionary of the sixteenth century because of how he lived the Christian faith with the tenacity, rigor and loyalty that were typical of the Japanese people, promoting the inculturation of Christianity through the witness of his life, which eventually led to his dying while in exile. Already at the time of his death people were talking of him as though he were a saint.
“His witness of faith was, and is, convincing. Just as his life has led many to the Gospel, so can the blood of his martyrdom continue to be “the seed of Christians.”#
Dr. Ernesto A. de Pedro, PhD/History
YOUR EXCELLENCY, OFFICERS OF THE IMPERIAL JAPANESE FORCES, YOUR GRACE, YOUR LORDSHIPS, REVEREND FATHERS, LADIES AND GENTLEMEN:
We are gathered today to honor the memory of one united with us under the banner of the Catholic faith and whose image, by the grace of God, may, in the not distant future, adorn the altars of our Catholic churches.
Justo Ukon Takayama was the son of Dario Takayama, a native of Kyoto, the ancient capitalofJapan. In 1565, when little Justo was eleven of age, his father was received into the Roman Catholic Church by the Jesuit Father Gaspar Vilela, and soon after Justo himself was baptized in the Catholic faith. Justo grew up to be a mighty captain. He became Lord (feudal governor) — [first, at age 21, as Daimyo of Takatsuki, r. 1573-1585; and later] of Akashi, the fortress town commanding the entrance into the Inland Sea.
Of him it can be truly said that he had everything—family, social position, wealth—yet all these he abandoned to walk in the path of the Lord. The spiritual regeneration of men both by example and by precept became his life task. For his Lord he gave up everything and led a humble existence doing good everywhere he went. No doubt by the very simplicity of his Christian life and the ardor of his devotion to his faith, he attracted many to a life of virtue and faith.
This was the man who headed a group of Japanese Catholics who sailed to Philippine shores in the beginning of the 17th century. Though it was not given him to continue his evangelical labors in this country, for the Lord called him to His bosom shortly after his arrival in the Islands, yet so strong was his influence that those whom he left behind emulated his example and led lives of real Christian culture and self-abnegation.
The beatification of Justo Ukon Takayama will redound to the glory not only of Japan but also of the Philippines, where his mortal remains rest, and will serve to bind closer these two countries already held together in the indissoluble bond of racial and geographical affinity. Long obscured by foreign influence, we have been brought by the Greater East Asia War to a realization of this affinity. For many years, before the outbreak of the war, we had been made to regard our fellow Orientals, the Japanese, with distrust and trepidation, Fear of Japan was widespread and prevalent. The war, fortunately, has dispelled all our unfounded doubts. For instead of wreaking vengeance on those who took part in the war, the Imperial Japanese Forces have acted with unparalleled magnanimity, benevolence and generosity. Unnecessary loss of life and property has been meticulously avoided. Social institutions have been respected and preserved. Individual liberties, especially freedom of worship, have been guaranteed. Not only has the religious life of the Filipino people been allowed to continue free and uninterrupted, but a movement towards spiritual and moral regeneration was immediately begun and undertaken.
In these days of supreme effort and toil, when the spirit of self-sacrifice and other virtues should be made to triumph over materialism and other human failings, when our thoughts and acts should be sanctified by the noblest and loftiest of motives, the spirit of self-abnegation and other virtues that constituted the moral greatness of Justo Ukon Takayama should serve as an urge and an inspirationfor the entire Filipino people.
In the great and urgent task of effecting in ourselves a spiritual regeneration, I deem the support and cooperation of the Church and of her ministers as important and necessary. Always in close contact with the people, with every sermon that they preach, every sacrament that they administer, every aid that they give, they hold the key to the hearts of the people and wield the power to revive and strengthen in their souls the spirit of self-sacrifice and self-discipline, the passion for honesty and for simple living, the love of God and of one’s fellowmen, and the other great virtues that have ever distinguished us as an oriental people.
On this solemn occasion, therefore, that we have consecrated to the memory of the famous Japanese leader whose life was devoted to the moral and spiritual improvement of his fellowmen, I appeal to the Church for the fullest support and cooperation in the sacred task of effecting the moral and spiritual regeneration of the Filipino people.#
On Holy Thursday we commemorate the first Mass, the first miracle of the Eucharist. None of us having been there, how do we know it occurred? Faith of course, but faith buttressed by the knowledge that our Faith is supported by historical facts. We know when Christ lived. At each Mass we remember that He suffered under Pontius Pilate which allows us to date the Crucifixion and the Last Supper to plus or minus a few years. We know when Caiaphas was High Priest. Judea, the province in which Christ lived, was not some make-believe land but a province of the Roman Empire and we know much about it at the time of Christ. Above all, we have the Gospels and the Epistles of Saint Paul, documents written while those who saw and heard Christ still lived.
This of course was only the start of the historical record of Catholicism, the Universal Church. Each generation produced new writers who give us precious facts of the journey through history of the Faith of Christ. One of the most important of the early writers about the Church is Saint Justin Martyr, regarded as the foremost exponent of the Divine Word, the Logos, in the second century.
Justin Martyr was born in Flavia Neapolis, ancient Shechem, modern day Nablus, in Judea circa 100 AD. He was brought up a pagan. Having enough money to pursue the study of philosophy, he encountered the teachings of Christ, after a long and methodical search for the true philosophy, and became a convert. Having found the true philosophy, he traveled around the Roman Empire, spreading it, garbed in his philosopher’s gown. Eventually he settled in Rome. He wrote eight treatises defending Christianity. His best known work is his First Apology which he addressed to the Roman Emperor Antonius Pius, one of the best of the emperors, who reigned from 138-161 AD. This Apology was a plea for the Emperor to stop persecuting the Christians. In this Apology he gives us many details as to how Catholics worshiped in Rome during the middle of the Second Century. His description of the Eucharist is a treasure for all Catholics as we attend Holy Thursday Mass today.
“There is then brought to the president of the brethren bread and a cup of wine mixed with water; and he taking them, gives praise and glory to the Father of the universe, through the name of the Son and of the Holy Ghost, and offers thanks at considerable length for our being counted worthy to receive these things at His hands. And when he has concluded the prayers and thanksgivings, all the people present express their assent by saying Amen. This word Amen answers in the Hebrew language to so be it. And when the president has given thanks, and all the people have expressed their assent, those who are called by us deacons give to each of those present to partake of the bread and wine mixed with water over which the thanksgiving was pronounced, and to those who are absent they carry away a portion.
“And this food is called among us the Eucharist, of which no one is allowed to partake but the man who believes that the things which we teach are true, and who has been washed with the washing that is for the remission of sins, and unto regeneration, and who is so living as Christ has enjoined. For not as common bread and common drink do we receive these; but in like manner as Jesus Christ our Savior, having been made flesh by the Word of God, had both flesh and blood for our salvation, so likewise have we been taught that the food which is blessed by the prayer of His word, and from which our blood and flesh by transmutation are nourished, is the flesh and blood of that Jesus who was made flesh. For the apostles, in the memoirs composed by them, which are called Gospels, have thus delivered unto us what was enjoined upon them; that Jesus took bread, and when He had given thanks, said, This do in remembrance of Me, Luke 22:19 this is My body; and that, after the same manner, having taken the cup and given thanks, He said, This is My blood; and gave it to them alone. Which the wicked devils have imitated in the mysteries of Mithras, commanding the same thing to be done. For, that bread and a cup of water are placed with certain incantations in the mystic rites of one who is being initiated, you either know or can learn.”
Here the Real Presence is asserted matter-of-factly as what all Christians believe. As Catholics in the Twenty-First Century we are part of a long process of the keeping of the truth handed to the Apostles by Christ on that Thursday night so long ago. As Saint Justin Martyr witnessed to that truth in his day, we witness to it in ours. As his title indicates, Saint Justin died a martyr for the Faith. We have a contemporaneous account of his heroic death.
“The Prefect Rusticus says: Approach and sacrifice, all of you, to the gods. Justin says: No one in his right mind gives up piety for impiety. The Prefect Rusticus says: If you do not obey, you will be tortured without mercy. Justin replies: That is our desire, to be tortured for Our Lord, Jesus Christ, and so to be saved, for that will give us salvation and firm confidence at the more terrible universal tribunal of Our Lord and Savior. And all the martyrs said: Do as you wish; for we are Christians, and we do not sacrifice to idols. The Prefect Rusticus read the sentence: Those who do not wish to sacrifice to the gods and to obey the emperor will be scourged and beheaded according to the laws. The holy martyrs glorifying God betook themselves to the customary place, where they were beheaded and consummated their martyrdom confessing their Savior.”
►In the summer of 1587, as the Regent (Kampaku) Toyotomi Hideyoshi (豐臣 秀吉/豊臣 秀吉, 1537–1598) was consolidating power with final battles in Kyushu, where the Akashi Daimyō Justo Takayama Ukon (高山右近, 1552-1615) was a field commander, he sent Sen no Rikyū (千利休, 1522–1591), to Lord Takayama: Would Ukon renounce his fealty to a foreign religion?
Hideyoshi did not want a foreign God in Japan. So he decided to expel all missionaries who were bringing the tenets of “that evil religion” among the Japanese, including many daimyos in Kyushu.
Rikyū was a friend of both Hideyoshi and Takayama, so he knew what Ukon’s reply would be, but he was duty-bound to bring the message nonetheless.
Lord Takayama knew well the consequences of his decision. He dispatched a horseman from Hakata to Akashi – six hours’ drive in Japan’s modern roadway system – for his family to vacate immediately the new Akashi castle he had just built – before Hideyoshi’s cohorts got there.
Now a “rōnin” (浪人, “drifter” or “wanderer”), Takayama sought to keep his family together in the faith. For a year, he was under the protection of his friend and fellow Christian, Lord Konishi Yukinaga (小西 行長, 1555-1600) – who despite being a Christian, was untouchable because Hideyoshi needed him for the conquest of Korea – and then China.
For the next 26 years, Takayama was in domestic exile in Kanazawa — whose Great Daimyo Lord Maeda Toshiie (前田 利家, 1538–1599) — though not a Christian, had a daughter who was one. Takayama served as guest general (“Kyakusho“). in Maeda’s standing army.
In 1590, Takayama fought for Lord Toshiie Maeda in the Siege of Odawara, Toyotomi Hideyoshi‘s campaign to eliminate the Hōjō clan as a threat to his power. Hideyoshi’s victory occasioned an invitation from Hideyoshi for Ukon to join him at a tea ceremony, suggesting there was no personal enmity between the two wary men.
While Takayama himself served at the Maeda court in Kanazawa, he was given an estate in Noto Peninsula to support his family and his retainers. Here he invited some 600 Christian ronin and their families to make up two ecclesial communities in Shika-machi (志賀町) and Shio-machi (志雄町) with its own Jesuit chaplain and Brother.
But the increasing Christian activity of Ukon had not escaped the notice of Shōgun Tokugawa Ieyasu (徳川家康, 1543-1616) and when the ruler ordered the expulsion of the missionaries on Jan. 27, 1614, he paid special attention to the Christian community, exiling its leaders Ukon and Lord Juan Tokuan Naitô (内藤 如安, c1549–1626) along with their families. Other outstanding members of this church were condemned to hard labor in the region of Tsugaru.
The Tokugawa shogunate’s prohibition was extended to everyone regardless of class or origin, including all missionaries without exception. The shogunate was concerned about a possible invasion by the Iberian colonial powers, which had previously occurred in the New World and the Philippines.
It was from Kanazawa that Takayama departed for Manila on Feb. 14, 1614 – on a 267-day journey on foot (with lengthy stops to wait for developments) to Nagasaki – and after a 43-day voyage to the Philippines on board a Chinese sampan captained by the Portuguese mariner Esteban d’Acosta — arrived in Manila on Sunday, Dec. 21, 1614 – with his family of 7 (wife Doña Justa Kuroda Takayama, daughter Lady Lucia Yokoyama [wife of Lord Yokoyama Daizen Yasuharu], and five grandsons (aged 8-16), all surnamed Takayama) and 350 other migrants and refugees (M&R).
Dr. Ernesto A. de Pedro, PhD
Prayer Warriors of Blessed Takayama
►Aside from ‘Te Deum Laudamus,’ Japanese Christians chanted other Latin hymns: “Ave Maria,” “Adoro Te Devote,” “Regina Caeli,” “Pange Lingua Gloriosi,” “Veni Creator Spiritus,” and “Salve Regina.”
As the 26 Martyrs were marched along the long road from Kyoto to Nagasaki, they chanted the “Te Deum Laudamus” (“Thee, O God, we praise”) over and over again — Jesuits and Franciscans alike. If he had been the 27th Martyr, Lord Justus Ukon Takayama (1552 Osaka-1615 Manila) would have added his full-throated voice to the plain chant.
But, alas, Dom Justus missed his chance at martyrdom, because his name, which originally topped the list, had been crossed out by Lord Maeda Toshiie (who, since 1588, had been the liege lord of Ukon) and Lord Ishida Mitsunari, daimyo of Sawayama in Ōmi Province.
Lord Takayama had been stripped of his feudal domain in Akashi in 1587, and was now a guest general (Kyakusho) in Lord Maeda’s employ.
The two daimyos calculated that the untimely execution of Ukon, the foremost Christian ex-daimyo, might cause complications they could not foresee.
Beginning Jan. 10, 1597, the 26 martyrs — with their left ears cut off — were marched barefoot in the snow from Kyoto to Nagasaki – via the scenic route. They walked about 620 miles (1,000 km) over the course of 26 days. They left Sakai and went to Osaka, Hyogo, Akashi, Himeji, Akaho, Okayama, Omichi, Mihara, Hiroshima, Shimonoseki. They traveled by boat from Shimonoseki to Okura and they walked to Hakata, Karatsu and Sonogi. Traveling by boat from Sonogi, they went to Tokitsu and they walked to Nagasaki.
On Feb. 5, 1597, Japan’s 26 proto-martyrs – three Japanese Jesuits, and 17 Japanese members of the Third Order of St. Francis, including three young boys, and four Spaniards, one Mexican, one Portuguese from India (all of whom were Franciscan missionaries – were executed by crucifixion in Nagasaki on the orders of the Lord Chancellor (Kampaku) Hideyoshi Toyotomi (豐臣 秀吉/豊臣 秀吉, 1537-1598).
Two proto-martyrs stand out:
💥 St. Paul Miki (1562-1597), son of a Kirishitan Samurai in the service of Lord Takayama in Takatsuki Castle. Paul studied at a Jesuit seminary at Arima, built in 1580 beneath Hinoe Castle, repurposed by Lord Takayama from a Buddhist monastery. The original décor was left largely unchanged.
💥 St. Fr. Pedro Bautista (1542-1597), Father Provincial of the Franciscans of the Philippines and founder of the San Francisco Monastery in Quezon City, had arrived as the Philippine Ambassador to Hideyoshi’s court in 1593, and was royally received. With his diplomatic chores done, he was permitted to remain in Japan to set up a Franciscan missionary outpost.
When Hideyoshi lost his temper over steady advances of Christianity, he ordered the execution of “the Manila friars” (meaning, Fr. Bautista and his confreres) and other Japanese Christians to deter the spread of Christianity. He prescribed crucifixion as the method of death, in grim parody of Christ’s own death.
These individuals were raised on crosses and then pierced through with spears.
‘Te Deum’ in Manila Cathedral
When the first Japanese exile boat with 350 Catholics deported from Japan, led by Lord Takayama, arrived in Manila after a perilous 43-day voyage, they were grateful for the new lease on life they were graced with. On the late afternoon of Sunday, Dec. 21, 1614, the exiles / refugees / migrants visited the newly consecrated Manila Catholic (III) – inaugurated just 16 days earlier on Dec. 5, 1614 — and sang a “Te Deum.” It was the battle hymn they had not been able to sing during the typhoon that wrecked their voyage.
It was an ancient hymn of deliverance written in A.D. 387. It survives to this day largely through the devotion of Benedictine monks.
Lord Takayama (a.k.a. “Dom Justo Ucondono”) did not know what the future held for him, but he was now newly arrived in a land where he and his family could now practice freely their Catholic Faith.#
Dr. ERNESTO A. DE PEDRO, PhD
Managing Trustee, Prayer Warriors of Blessed Takayama