►First outlines of Blessed Takayama emerge – from the “batikuling” wood sun-dried for 10 years. Paete master woodcarver Paloy Cagayat will chisel away every inch that does not look like Ukon Takayama.
Current stage: “Papatuyuin ko na po, ipapasok ko po muna sa dryer, tapos ay ilalagay na yung finer details.” When cured, finer details will be chiseled out.#
►It is the same Ignatian pose as the 36-inch Takayama statue gifted to Pope Francis by “Via Lucis Pilgrimage Group 112011” — but 6-ft tall. This was the first Takayama statue presented to the Pope – after which he imparted his Apostolic Blessing to all Prayer Warriors of Blessed Takayama. The new statue will have all the essential iconographic elements associated with Ukon: ◘ samurai garb, ◘ topknot (instead of a halo), ◘ sword-cum-crucifix; the ◘ “Palm of Martyrdom” – and a ◘ Rosary.
►Anywhere the Pope Francis celebrates a field Mass where Blessed Takayama accompanies him – we’d be ready to ship a resin-fiberglass replica – in santero parlance a “callejero.” In creating a 6-ft version of the statue he already has, we figure this will find favor with him – if needed.
An enabling donation from a Catholic devotee in Gen. Trias, Cavite — through DoT/Osaka Director Maria Leona Nepomuceno — gave us the confidence to commission this large work.
Prayer Warriors from Los Angeles, Long Beach and Wilmington, California – most of them Pinoy-Americans — pitched in with their contributions.#
►Now is the time to add your P50.00 – less than the price of one mini-burger (or bowl of ramen). No amount is too small to support this initiative.
Please remit your offering to ◘ MetroBank: For credit to “Blessed Justo Takayama Research Service” – Acct. No. #347-3-34757405-9. Remember to send us a copy of your remittance slip – so we can acknowledge. *United in prayer and mission!#
►Don’t just “like” this project. After the original wood carving, we’ll have to make a *rubber mold to produce *resin-fiberglass replicas. There’s a lot required. For now, it’s just to make the master statue. That’s only the first step. My wife reminds me – any shortfall will have to be shouldered by our family. Hmmm. Kaya! No burgers? No ramen? As a samurai-general, Ukon Takayama was a good provider. We march — confident our army will be provided!#
“Let our prayers be the best expression of our solidarity and fraternal support for them.”
►Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle has issued a prayer to be said by the clergy and the faithful at all Sunday Masses.
“His Eminence (Cardinal Tagle) invites us to be aware and discerning of the many disturbing issues in our society today. We are invited to respond in faith and hope through our common prayer,” according to Circular 2019-34 on the Prayer for the Nation signed by Fr. Reginald Malicdem, Chancellor of the Archdiocese.
The prayer, written in English and Tagalog, will be prayed at all Sunday Masses, including the evening masses of Saturday, for the whole month beginning August 4.
The circular dated August 1, is addressed to all clergy and superiors of religious men and women in the archdiocese.#
►The head of the Archdiocese of Manila asked them to pray for the members of the Catholic Church particularly those who are victims of false accusations.“Our dear Archbishop, Cardinal Luis Antonio G. Tagle, is asking all of us, priests, religious men and women, and lay faithful in the Archdiocese of Manila, to offer our Masses and prayer for all our bishops and priests, especially those who suffer because of persecutions and false accusations,” the directive said.
“Let our prayers be the best expression of our solidarity and fraternal support for them,” it added.#
►PRAYER FOR THE NATION
>>>Almighty and merciful God
You have brought us together in the name of your Son Jesus.
We beg for your mercy and grace in our time of need.
Open our eyes to see the evil that we have done.
Forgive us for failing to do what is good and just.
Touch our hearts and bring us back to You.
We pray for an end to the violence perpetrated by harsh words, malicious propaganda, deadly weapons, or cold indifference.
May our homes, our nation, and our world become havens of Your peace.
Grant us the grace to see every human being as a child of God, regardless of race, language, or culture, even drug addicts, criminals, and hardened sinners.
Give us the strength to teach our children and youth how to resolve differences non-violently and respectfully.
May elders become models of decent and honorable behavior.
We entrust to your mercy those who hate the Church and spread prejudice against our Catholic faith.
Illumine their minds with the light of your truth.
Touch their hearts with your love.
Inspire those in public office to uphold, preserve, promote, and defend the dignity of every human being and acknowledge you, our God, as the Source and Lord of all life.
Touch the hearts of those who oppress others and those who take the law in their own hands.
Touch the consciences of the perpetrators of heinous crimes, violence, senseless, and indiscriminate killings.
Move them to abandon their pride and their instruments of destruction.
We also remember the police and first responders who risk their lives daily to ensure our safety.
May they also be instruments of fair and just law enforcement that guarantees the dignity of persons and promotes truth, peace, and wellbeing in society.
We lift up to you our bishops, priests, consecrated persons, and lay faithful who suffer from misunderstanding, false accusations, and persecution on account of their faith and their promotion of justice.
Grant them holy joy that will see them through the dark nights of suffering.
Welcome to your eternal feast in heaven the people who died in senseless brutal organized killings, including priests who have lost their lives in the pursuit of truth and justice.
With St. Paul, we say:
“We are afflicted in every way, but not constrained; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our body.” (2 Corinthians 4:8-10).
Since you, O God, are with us, nothing that has happened, nothing still to come, can rob us of our hope in Christ.
In your enduring love we trust.
You alone can heal our broken hearts.
You alone can wipe away the tears that well up inside us.
You alone can give us peace.
You alone can strengthen us to persevere.
Assure those who are discouraged that with you nothing is impossible.
Filled and invigorated by the Holy Spirit, may our love for one another be deepened.
We ask this through Christ our Lord.
►Mary, Mother of Hope, pray for us.
◘ St. Michael the Archangel, pray for us.
◘ St. John Marie Vianney, pray for us.
◘ San Lorenzo Ruiz, pray for us.
◘ San Pedro Calungsod, pray for us.
◘ Blessed José María de Manila, pray for us.
◘ Blessed Justo Takayama Ukon, pray for us.#
►“Blessed Justo Takayama Ukon, pray for us.” – The “Samurai of Christ,” Justo Ukon Takayama, the Japan-born Manila Catholic who was “martyred” in Manila in 1615, brings up the rear in the litany of Saints invoked — to protect the Philippines.#
►On six occasions, Pope Francis has shown special regard for Blessed Justo Ukon Takayama (1552 Osaka-1615 Manila; beatified 2017).#
►#1 – ‘BUILD ON LEGACY OF MARTYRS’ — On March 20, 2015 — Pope Francis, in his message to Japanese Bishops during their “ad Limina” visit to the Vatican, urged them to build on the legacy of their martyrs – numbering 42 Saints and 393 Blessed. Dom Justo Ukon Takayama, a pillar of the early Jesuit missions in Japan was, at this time, a “Servant of God” — the first rung in the ladder to sainthood.#
►#2 — ‘DECREE OF MARTYRDOM’ — On Jan 21, 2016 – Pope Francis issued a “Decree of Martyrdom,” paving the way for Takayama’s immediate beatification.
►#3 — ‘WONDERFUL EXAMPLE OF STRENGTH IN THE FAITH’ — On Feb. 8, 2017 (the day AFTER the beatification rites of Blessed Takayama in Osaka), Pope Francis reflected on Ukon during his weekly General Audience in the Vatican’s Paul VI Hall: “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.”#
►#4 — ‘CHOOSING THE PATH OF EXILE’ — On Sept. 14, 2017 – Pope Francis sent a message to Japanese Bishops through Cardinal Fernando Filoni, Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples: “Whenever I think of the Church in Japan, my thoughts return to the witness of the many martyrs who have offered their lives for the faith. They always have a special place in my heart: I think of … Blessed Justus Takayama Ukon, who … preferred poverty and the path of exile rather than recanting the name of Jesus.”#
►#5 — ‘COMMENDING YOU TO BLESSED TAKAYAMA’ — On Dec. 8, 2018, Pope Francis appointed Osaka Cardinal Thomas Aquinas Manyo Maeda as his Papal Legate to the 60th Anniversary of the postwar reconstruction of the Manila Cathedral-Basilica: “And indeed desiring for you a heavenly companion in Manila, we … commend you to Blessed Justo Takayama Ukon, who is recently raised to the glory of the altars in Osaka.”#
►#6 — ‘PRAYER WARRIORS OF BLESSED TAKAYAMA’ — On July 25, 2019, Pope Francis imparts his Apostolic Blessing to the Prayer Warriors of Blessed Takayama. “With the assurance of his prayers, the Holy Father willingly imparts his Apostolic Blessing to you and all the Prayer Warriors of Blessed Takayama as a pledge of peace and joy in the Lord.”#
►In fulsome support of the “Cause of Canonization” of Blessed Takayama, Pope Francis imparts Apostolic Blessing to all “Prayer Warriors of Blessed Takayama.”
►“Dear Dr. de Pedro: His Holiness Pope Francis was pleased to receive your letter and copy of the papal brief of Pope Sixtus V to Justo Ukon Takayama written in 1590, and he has asked me to respond on his behalf.
“So too, he thanks you for the gift of a statue of Blessed Takayama.
“He appreciates the sentiments which prompted these thoughtful gestures.
“With the assurance of his prayers, the Holy Father willingly imparts his Apostolic Blessing to you and all the Prayer Warriors of Blessed Takayama as a pledge of peace and joy in the Lord.”
Dated July 25, 2019, the letter was signed by ✠ Archbishop Edgar Pena, Substitute for General Affairs, Vatican Secretariat of State.
Preparing for Papal Visit to Japan, Nov. 22-25, 2019
►As Pope Francis prepares to visit Japan, a mission field he had aspired to serve as a young Jesuit, the Prayer Warriors of Blessed Takayama were anxious to let him know that Pope Sixtus V (r. 1585-1590) imparted his Apostolic Blessing to the ex-Daimyo Justo Ukon Takayama, after he was stripped of his feudal domain in Akashi (明石市) on the Seto Inland Sea west of Kobe, Japan. Pope Sixtus wrote: “Dear Son, Noble Sir: Hold fast to your Faith.” This Breve was found by Jesuit researchers in the Vatican Archives under ◘ Arch. Vat., Ann. 44, v. 29 ff. 437va-438v. Nr. 42.
The Latin text was included in the Takayama “Positio” — “Servus Dei, Justus Takayama Ukon: Materia Praeparata Pro Propositione Super Virtutibus Servi Dei Justi Takayama Ukon” (Manila: 1994) which Dr. de Pedro edited and submitted to the Jesuit General Postulator, Fr. Paolo Molinari, SJ. Within the year, Dom Justo Ukon Takayama (1552 Osaka-1615 Manila) was declared a “Servant of God.”
But, sending the Pope a mere xerographed copy of the Papal Breve was inelegant. So we printed the Breve ala Vatican parchment. We sent a framed parchment to Archbishop Gabriele Giordano Caccia, Apostolic Nuncio to Manila, imploring him to bring it to the attention of Pope Francis – so he will know that an earlier Pope had sought to shore up the resolve of the celebrated “Samurai of Christ” – now Blessed Justo Ukon Takayama.
An Altar-Image of Blessed Takayama for the Vatican
►At that time, we were waiting for clearance to ship to the Vatican an altar-statue of Blessed Takayama as a gift of the Manila-based “Via Lucis Pilgrim Group 112011” which was chaplained on their pilgrimage to Jerusalem in 2011 by then-Imus Bishop (now Cardinal) Luis Antonio Tagle. The Nuncio said, with the endorsement of this gift by Cardinal Tagle, he will inform the Pope.
The Vatican response was this letter of July 25, 2019.
Original Apostolic Blessi Deposited with RCAM Archives
We have deposited the original with the Archdiocesan Archives of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Manila.
We are sharing individual print-outs of the Apostolic Blessing with ALL Prayer Warriors of Blessed Takayama.
►As of 2019, Japan has 42 Japanese Saints and 394 “Beati” (Blessed). All these Catholics venerated in churches around the world, were group martyrs who — except one — were processed in only four batches:
◘ The 26 Martyrs of Nagasaki (martyred 1597; beatified 1627; canonized 1862). This first group includes St. Pedro Bautista (1542-1597), former Superior of all Franciscans in the Philippines and founder of the Franciscan Monastery at San Francisco del Monte, Manila — before he was sent to Japan in May 1593 as personal envoy of Governor-General Gomez Perez Dasmariñas to Hideyoshi. After his diplomatic chores were done, Bautista was allowed to stay on to establish a Franciscan mission.
◘ 205 Martyrs of Japan (1598-1632) – (beatified 1867). This was the largest group beatification ceremony in church history.
◘ Sixteen Martyrs of Japan (1633-1637) — (beatified, 1981; canonized 1987).
◘ The 188 Japanese Martyrs (1603-1639) — (beatified in Nagasaki in November 2008).
◘ Alone among them, Blessed Takayama was individually promoted and studied at the Congregation for the Causes of Saints (CCS). Originally promoted as a Confessor – necessitating a study of his entire life and heroic virtues since his Baptism on June 1, 1563 — he was later promoted as a Martyr – when Pope Francis issued a Decree of Martyrdom on Jan. 21, 2016, recognizing Takayama as “a layperson … from Japan [who] died from the hatred of the Faith on Feb. 3, 1615 in Manila, Philippines.”
Cardinal Angelo Amato, Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, described the new Blessed as “an extraordinary witness of the Christian faith in difficult times of opposition and persecution.”
As lay promoters of the Canonization Cause of Blessed Takayama, we implore your parishioners to devote a prayer session to study Takayama’s heroic virtues. Pray for him to intercede with God – in the hope God would favor him with his grace.
Blessed Takayama is just ONE miracle away from Canonization.
Despite the shedding of so much martyrs’ blood, Japan remains 99.3% Shinto-Buddhist today – (only ONE in 330 Japanese is Catholic!) — as Pope Francis will find out there are only 509,000 Japanese Catholics when he visits Japan in mid-November, 2019.
The Philippines – Third Largest Catholic Nation in the World
The Philippines, where over 86 per cent of its 102.25 M population profess to be Catholics, has a total of TWO Filipino Saints, THREE Blessed, SIX Venerables, and SIXTEEN (16) Servants of God — over five centuries of Christianity.
With the celebration of the 500th anniversary of Christianity in the Philippines in 2021, focus is intensifying on the many saintly people who have energized the Philippine Church in the past five centuries.#
►Banished from his native Japan, settling in Manila with 350 other Christians deportees, Lord Justus Ukon Takayama (1552 Osaka-1615 Manila; beatified 2017) lived the last 44 days of his life as guest of the Jesuits in Intramuros, and was welcomed as a revered Christian of heroic virtue by the Manila Archdiocese.
The Spanish Governor General, Juan de Silva (r. April 1609 – April 19, 1616) was “a daily visitor” – to the Jesuits’ guesthouse “Casa San Miguel” at the Jesuit Compound (now the Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila [PLM] Campus) in Intramuros where Takayama and his family lived — exploring how Spain might assist the beleaguered Christians in Kyushu – with the assumed military support of the Christian Daimyos in that region. Uh-uh. Ukon replied: You do not understand Japan.
Gov. De Silva was proposing to invade Kyushu with an invasion force of some 6,000 Spanish troops – under the generalship of Lord Takayama, Japan’s most illustrious Christian samurai. De Silva was under the conceit that one Spaniard was worth 10 Japanese. Wow!
(To understand the martial infrastructure of Japan, when Toyotomi forces (often called the Western Army) battled the Tokugawa Shōgun‘s forces (the Eastern Army) near Osaka on June 5, 1615, Hideyori had 50,000 troops; Tokugawa had 150,000. And Silva proposed to take on Japan through an invasion force of 6,000?)
But Takayama died on Tuesday, Feb. 3, 1615 – ending Gov. De Silva’s ardent hopes to liberate Japan for the Spanish crown.
Did Takayama Die as a Filipino?
►“Filipinos” in Takayama’s time (1614-1615) referred to Spaniards born in the Philippines. The Malays — native born inhabitants of the Philippines (today’s Filipinos) — were called “indio” or “indigenta,” and the Arabs, Japanese, Han Chinese and Indians who formed part of the population — were “banyaga” (in Sanskrit, Vanijaka (वणिजक), the word for merchant, trader, foreigner.
Before Takayama arrived on Dec. 21, 1614 with 350 “refugees and migrants,” there were already 3,000 Japanese – mostly in Paco, San Roque (in Cavite) and Agoo, La Union. This, according to the first census in the Philippines in 1591, based on tributes collected.
(The tributes count the total founding population of Spanish-Philippines as 667,612 people, of which: some 20,000 were Chinese migrant traders, at different times: around 16,500 individuals were Latino soldier-colonists who were cumulatively sent from Peru and Mexico and they were shipped to the Philippines annually; some 3,000 were Japanese residents, and about 600 were pure Spaniards from Europe. There was also a large but unknown number of Indian Filipinos. The rest of the population were Malays and Negritos. Thus, with merely 667,612 people, during this era, the Philippines was among the most sparsely populated lands in Asia. In contrast, Japan during that era (the 1500s) already had a population of 8 Million, compared to the Philippine’s mere 600,000.)
Though not a “Filipino,” Takayama was certainly a Japanese-born Manila Catholic – absorbed into the Manila Archdiocese. Under the Church’s rubrics, “where a person dies is where he is born to Heaven.” By that was meant that, the Manila Archdiocese considered Ukon as a “Son of Manila” – a Manila Catholic – and therefore, proceeded to propose Ukon to the Vatican as the first candidate for sainthood from the Manila Archdiocese.#
►The SPPC Pastor, Rev. Fr. Hildebrand Garceau, O.Praem. notes: “Today, we honor Justo Ukon Takayama as recently beatified, a saint who joins the two countries of Japan and the Philippines in a bond of Christian peace.”
Happy feast day!
Welcome to our honored and special guests from the Japanese Catholic community and the Filipino community.
◘ St. Peter’s imprisonment guarded by 16 soldiers, but prayers by the Church brought 1 Angel, who set him free.
◘ St. Paul’s last letter to Timothy,
>>>Now an old man and living in Rome
>>>St. Peter also in Rome
>>>Both caring for the Christian community there, having suffered many times for Christ with imprisonments and beatings.
As St. Peter had professed to Jesus years before “You are the Christ the Son of the living God”, so now after years of preaching, working miracles, baptizing, and caring for the Christian communities, they have been putting into practice the profession of faith.
III. Tradition tells us that there in Rome, about the year 67AD both died as martyrs, witnesses to their faith in the Lord Jesus. St. Peter’s Basilica is built over St. Peter’s tomb. His successor, Pope Francis, lives in a house nearby. St. Paul died just outside the city near the monastery of Tre Fontane.
►We wear red today because both of these Princes of Apostles died as martyrs. The Church has a long tradition of venerating men and women who died for the faith. For 300 years after Jesus’ Resurrection, the Church was persecuted throughout the Mediterranean area, the Roman Empire.
In the following centuries, other persecutions occurred in different countries throughout the world, with many giving their lives in witness to their faith in Christ. England had many martyrs in the 16th century, France in the 18th century, Uganda in the 19th century, Russia, China, Spain and Mexico in the 20th. All gave up their lives rather than give up their faith. As a result, in many cases, the Church began to flourish in these areas after these periods of persecution. This fulfills a famous saying of the Church Father Tertullian, “The blood of the martyrs is the seed of Christians.”
St. Francis Xavier, the great Jesuit missionary brought the faith to Japan in the 1550’s and converted many people. However, in later years the local authorities sought to wipe out the Catholic faith by stripping Catholics of their property and making them live in poverty. In 1597, the first Japanese died for the faith. More persecutions followed, but the faith continued to grow in Japan.
Among the early converts to Catholicism in Japan was Justo Ukon Takayama (高山右近). He was baptized with the other members of his family in 1563. His family belonged to the nobility, and when he was 21 he was made feudal governor of Takatsuki. He was a great Samurai warrior, an able governor, and a saintly Christian. Like the holy Apostles, Justo proclaimed the faith of Christ, especially among Japanese Buddhists, and he made many converts, including other noble persons. When he went out to battle, he rode under the sign of the Cross.
During his lifetime in Japan, three separate persecutions broke out against Christians. Justo was fortunate to escape with his life and he continued to make converts by his winning personality and fervor for the faith. Pope Sixtus V heard of Justo’s evangelical missionary work and sent him a letter with the Apostolic blessing in 1590.
Finally, in the third persecution, which broke out in 1614, Justo was given the ultimatum: renounce his Catholic faith or be deported. He fled to Manila late that same year and died of his mistreatment early in 1615 in Manila. As Pope Francis described Ukon in the Decree of Martyrdom he issued Jan. 21, 2016: Justo Ukon Takayama was a “layperson … from Japan [who] died from the hatred of the Faith on Feb. 3, 1615 in Manila, Philippines.”
Today, we honor him as recently beatified, a saint who joins the two countries of Japan and the Philippines in a bond of Christian peace.
Let us pray for the continued growth of our Catholic faith both here and among our countrymen of the Far East.#
“Today’s unveiling of Blessed Takayama’s statue and historical markers is an initiative that will resurrect memories of the common history we share… We sincerely hope that the installation of the statue and markers of Blessed Takayama Ukon here will attract more Japanese tourists to take part in history-walks around Intramuros.” — Ambassador Koji Haneda
Remarks of Ambassador Koji Haneda
*Delivered at the installation of a statue of Blessed Takayama on June 29, 2019 — with Japanese missionaries in the Metro-Manila in attendance.
Magandang hapon po sa inyong lahat.
I am pleased to join you this afternoon in honoring Blessed Takayama Ukon with the unveiling of his statue and historical markers at the Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila.
The name Takayama Ukon is well known in Japanese history school textbooks as a Christian landlord who abandoned his status and devoted himself to his faith. However, it’s not so well known that he was exiled in the Philippines. Where we are now is the place he was allowed to stay until he passed away in 1615. Today’s unveiling of his statue and historical markers is an initiative that will resurrect memories of the common history we share. I would like to thank all those who have engaged in this historic gesture.
We’ve Come a Long Way Since Takayama Arrived
Japan and the Philippines’ partnership has come a long way since the era of Blessed Takayama Ukon. Our cooperative bond has expanded beyond trade, investment, and development matters—encompassing wider cultural and people-to-people exchanges, including tourism. The number of Filipino visitors to Japan increased sixfold to 504,000 over the last six years and is still growing. Likewise, Japanese visitors to the Philippines are on the rise, reaching 631,000 in 2018.
In a sense, Blessed Takayama Ukon was among the pioneering Japanese visitors to the Philippines. When he arrived here over four centuries ago, I am sure he was welcomed with the warmest Filipino hospitality. Unbeknown to Blessed Takayama Ukon, he may have helped plant a seed of friendship that has grown a lot in time. Forty years have passed since the Sister City Partnership was forged between the Cities of Manila and Takatsuki in Osaka—the place where Blessed Takayama Ukon ruled as landlord. In addition, Toyono Town in Osaka, his birthplace, has been accepting Filipino English teachers since last year through the Japanese government’s Japan Exchange and Teaching Programme. These are definitely sterling examples of a bond worth emulating.
Christianity … Is ‘Our Shared History’
It now seems that, through Christianity, Japan and the Philippines may be able to revisit our shared history. Last year, the “Hidden Christian” Sites in the Nagasaki Region were registered as UNESCO World Heritage. Nagasaki is the place where St. Lorenzo Ruiz, the first Filipino and Asian Saint, died as a martyr. As such, we are positive that this could spark interest and encourage more Filipinos to visit Nagasaki. In the same way, we sincerely hope that the installation of the statue and markers of Blessed Takayama Ukon here will attract more Japanese tourists to take part in history-walks around Intramuros.
Finally, I would like to reiterate my deepest gratitude to everyone who has endeavoured to make today’s event possible. With people like you, we can be certain of an even brighter future for the close friendship between Japan and the Philippines.
“We are now learning the [Japanese] language like little children” – Childlikeness and learning within the context of the early modern Jesuit mission to Japan
Dr. Pia Maria Jolliffe The Nissan Institute of Japanese Studies, University of Oxford
►Learning, education and inculturation were very important to the early modern Jesuit mission to Japan. From the beginning, the Jesuits admired the high level of education in Japan. The missionaries knew that they had to learn from Japan if they wanted the Japanese people to develop a real desire to learn from them.
St. Francis Xavier
After Francis Xavier [1506-1552] arrived with his companions on 15 August 1549 in Kagoshima, he lived for a while with a Japanese family and studied Japanese customs. Five letters sent by Xavier from Kagoshima to Rome have survived and have been confirmed as authentic. They are all dated 5 November 1549. Learning emerges as an important theme in all these letters. Xavier admired the Japanese people for their highly developed culture. So, he urged his Jesuit companions to adapt a humble approach to their missionary work:
“May it please God our Lord to grant us a knowledge of the language so that we can speak to them of the things of God, for we shall then, with his grace, favour, and assistance, produce much fruit. We are now like so many statues among them, since they speak and talk much about us, while we, not understanding their language, are mute. We are now learning the language like little children, and may it please God that we may imitate them in their simplicity and purity of mind. We are forced to employ the means and to dispose ourselves to be like them, both in learning the language and in imitating the simplicity of small and innocent children.” (Xavier 1992: 306)
This comparison between the learning Jesuit and little children is very interesting. Probably, Xavier thought of the evangelical simplicity and childlikeness: “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 18: 3-4)
The first elementary school for young children was opened in 1561 in Ōita. Another elementary school was opened in 1562 in Yokoseura. (Schilling 1931: 30)
Fr. Luis Frois, SJ
In the same year, 1562, Fr. Luís Fróis [1532-1597] arrived in Japan. It is quite likely that he had read Xavier’s letters during his novitiate in Goa.
After 23 years as a missionary in Japan, the mature Froís drafted in 1585 his Tratado, which is today considered the earliest systematic comparison of Japanese and European cultures. There is a whole chapter “Concerning children and their customs” which includes several observations concerning learning.
For example, distich 6 says:
“Among us, a four-year old child still does not know how to eat with his own hands; in Japan a three-year old already eats by himself using chopsticks.” (Fróis 2015: 84)
Or distich 8 says:
“Among us, one learns to read and write from secular teachers; in Japan, they all learn at the temple-schools of the Buddhist monks.” (Fróis 2015: 85)
Distich 9: “Our children learn first to read and then to write; in Japan they commence with writing and then learn to read.” (Fróis 2015: 86)
Distich 13: “Our children have little command and excellence in their manners; children in Japan are exceedingly thorough in their manners, so much that they are amazing.” (Fróis 2015: 87)
It is noteworthy how positively Fróis evaluates Japanese children. Compared to their European counterparts – the Portuguese children Fróis may have been familiar with – Japanese children seemed to the missionary well mannered, dexterous and relaxed when performing in the presence of others. This positive interpretation of Japanese customs and behaviour can be found throughout the Tratado.
Fr. Alessandro Valignano, Jesuit Superior General
Alessandro Valignano [1539-1606], the famous Visitador, also had a high opinion of the quality of learning in Japan. Like Fróis he noted how quickly Japanese children were learning:
“People are very able and of good understanding; and the children are very able to learn all our sciences and disciplines (…) and they learn to read and write in our language much easier and in less time than our children in Europe.” (Valignano 1899: 92)
Moreover, like Xavier, Valignano suggested that Jesuits need to develop a childlike approach towards their new life in Japan:
“However prudent and wise they may be, people find themselves in Japan like children and ignorant, in the kind of way that it is necessary for them to learn how to talk, how to sit down, how to walk, how to eat and to do a thousand other new things. These things seem at the beginning very strange and foolish, however, later they seem good.” (Valignano 1899: 110)
In this way, Valignano challenged generational power relations by acknowledging that mature Jesuits will find themselves “like children and ignorant” when learning to adapt themselves to Japanese culture.#
Fróis, Luís. 2015. The First European Description of Japan, 1585. A Critical English-language Edition ofStriking Contrasts in the Customs of Europe and Japanby Luís Fróis, S.J. London & New York: Routledge.
Schilling, Konrad. 1931. Das Schulwesen der Jesuiten in Japan (1551-1614). Münster: Druck der Regensbergschen Buchdruckerei.
Valignano, Alessandro. 1899. Monumenta Xaveriana. Ex autographis vel ex antiquioribus exemplis collecta. Matriti: Typis Augustini Avrial.
Xavier, Francis. 1992. The letters and instructions of Francis Xavier. Translated and introduced by M. Joseph Costelloe. St. Louis: Institute of Jesuit Sources.#
►The most celebrated bronze of Dom Justo Ukon Takayama (高山右近), 1552-1615; beatified 2017), is the “Samurai of Christ” that stands as the centerpiece of the Philippines-Japan Friendship Park at Plaza Dilao, Paco, Manila. This was the work of the Japanese Catholic convert, Johannes Masaaki Nishimori, who trained in Italy and made his first sculpture there. Returning to Japan, he established the “Atelier Pisano.”
The Takayama statue at Plaza Dilao, inaugurated on Nov. 17, 1977, was actually the FOURTH bronze made by Nishimori.
The original was erected ● at the Shiroato Historical Park in Takatsuki City (Osaka Prefecture) in 1972.
Other Takayama “twins” are ● at Kojyo Park in Takaoka (Toyama Prefecture) – whose castle had been repaired by Lord Takayama while he was in the employ of the Maeda clan, and in ● Takamatsu – at the entrance of the Shodoshima Sonosho Catholic Church of St. Teresa of the Child Jesus.
►Then there’s the famous mounted Samurai-General.
►But a “new” one – not yet seen at Google/Images — is that sculpted by Yasutake Funakoshi (舟越 保武, 1912–2002), the Japanese artist who created the sculptures of the “Twenty-six Martyrs of Japan “ from 1958 to 1962, and later the “Hara-no-Jo “(原の城, Christian samurai).
For the landmark sculpture, he was awarded the “Takamura Kōtarō Prize “ (高村光太郎賞受賞). The Pope bestowed on the 1950 Catholic convert the Order of St. Gregory the Great in 1964.
For the latter sculpture he received the Nakahara-Teijirō-Prize (中原悌二郎賞) in 1972.
Bronze by Yasutake Funakoshi
►In 1966 — four years after his work at the the “26 Martyrs’ Shrine” at Nagasaki was completed — Funakoshi made a bronze of Dom Justo Ucondono measuring 80 cm (31.5 inches). Funakoshi shows a pensive Takayama wearing, not a katana, but a crucifix. He seems to be past all worldly worries, with an eye cast — not on the current persecutions that befell him or the forthcoming exile to Manila that was his fate — but on the great beyond.#
’26 Martyrs’ Shrine’ at Nagasaki
►The bronze sculptures at the “26 Martyrs’ Shrine” in Nagasaki were created by Yasutake Funakoshi from 1958 to 1962.#