Pope Francis – and the ‘Kirishitan Samurai,’ Justo Ukon Takayama


►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.”#

Dr. Ernesto A. de Pedro
Takayama Trustee

 

 

Pope Francis Imparts Apostolic Blessing to All ‘Prayer Warriors of Blessed Takayama’

►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.

Dr. Ernesto A. De Pedro
Takayama Trustee

Promoting “Canonization of Blessed Takayama” — with Spread of Altar-Statues

Osaka Cardinal Thomas Aquinas Manyo Maeda venerating official image of Blessed Takayama at the Manila Cathedral

►The first order for an altar-statue of Blessed Takayama from outside the Philippines came from – surprise! — “Saints Peter & Paul Catholic Church” (est. 1865) in Wilmington, California.

Another Takayama statue being blessed by Manila Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle

As in ALL past orders, there’s a Pinoy element involved. Pinoy parishioners pooled resources to make the amount – which they presented to their pastor.

Takayama altar-statue installed at the Manila Cathedral-Basilica

►Fr. Hildebrand Garceau, O. Praem., pastor of St. Peter and St. Paul Church, in Wilmington, California wrote on January 18: “We hope you will provide an official image of Blessed Takayama for our parish. We have an active community of parishioners who are devoted to Blessed Takayama and want to promote his canonization.”

St. Peter and St. Paul Church, in Wilmington, California

►For this particular acquisition by the Wilmington Parish Church, there was a Badoc connection.

Several residents of Long Beach and Wilmington, CA – who originated from Badoc, Ilocos Norte – were flying home to attend the elevation on Feb. 5 of the Badoc Parish Church to a Minor Basilica – and the dedication of a side altar to ● Blessed Justo Ukon Takayama (1552-1615), who was martyred in Manila, with another for ● San Lorenzo Ruiz (1600-1637), Pro-Martyr of the Philippine Church.

Active parishioners energize their parishes!#

Dr. Ernesto A. de Pedro
Takayama Trustee

In ‘Arc of Grace,’ the First Eucharistic Mass Reaches Ukon’s 1552 Birthplace

►The town of Toyono-cho spent months preparing for this historic celebration that honors their most illustrious townmate who has earned a worldwide reputation as a Christian of heroic virtue — worthy for other people to emulate.

The Christian Samurai, Justo Ukon Takayama — born in Toyono-cho, Osaka Prefecture ~ Painting by Shinrin Sam Bros (2019)

►Osaka Archbishop Thomas Aquinas Manyo Cardinal Maeda — who was entrusted by Pope Francis to the patronage and protection of Blessed Justo Takayama when he served as Papal Legate to Manila during the 60th Jubilee Celebration of the Postwar Reconstruction of the Manila Cathedral (Dec. 8, 2018) – is celebrating the historic Mass.

Could the Shinto-Buddhist townmates of Ukon really appreciate the Catholic ceremony?

Fortunately for them — for two years running — Toyono-cho representatives  (all Shinto / Buddhists) have visited Manila to touch base with Manila Mayor Joseph “Erap” Ejercito Estrada, and Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle – as they trace the footsteps of their illustrious son, Ukon Takayama – ● once in July 2017 to attend the Philippine Conference of New Evangelization (PCNE-4) and ● another Takayama Pilgrimage led by then-Archbishop Maeda in April 2018.

Japanese pilgrims joining Takayama Pilgrimages to Manila attend Mass fervently at the Manila Cathedral — Catholics and Buddhists alike.

Whenever they attended Masses – at the Manila Cathedral and at the Santísimo Rosario Parish (UST Chapel) – they prayed with profound reverence. They watched the wafting of incense — that’s a universal symbol of worship in every religion.

When Catholics pray during Mass: “Lord, from the rising of the sun to its setting, your name is worthy of all praise. Let our prayer come like incense before you. May the lifting up of our hands be as an evening sacrifice acceptable to you, Lord our God” – that prayer expresses a universal sentiment across all religions.

Preserving Ukon’s Memory

►Toyono-cho has erected two giant granite statues of Justo Ukon Takayama and his wife, Dona Justa Kuroda Takayama.

This is the firs representation of the Takayama couple together.

►They keep Ukon’s memory alive by establishing a town-hall — “Ukon-no-Sato” (Takayama Community Center) in Takayama Village, Toyono-cho.

Two active promoters of Ukon’s memory are: ● “Honor-Ukon-Takayama-Couples-Gathering” and ● “Ukon Takayama Canonization Promotion Committee.”

The town-hall — “Ukon-no-Sato” (Takayama Community Center) in Takayama Village — treasures ● a statue of Lord Takayama sourced from the “Prayer Warriors of Blessed Takayama” in Manila, and ● a copy of the Vatican Parchment sent by Pope Sixtus V to “Justo Ucondono” in 1590.

This Apostolic Blessing, sent by Pope Sixtus V in 1590, was retrieved from the Vatican Archives by a team of Jesuit researchers, headed by Sophia University’s Fr. Hubert Cieslik, SJ.

►Yearly, they reenact Ukon’s wedding — giving everyone a chance to strut off their finest medieval wardrobe.

The “Takayama Wedding” is an annual special event that the Toyono-cho townspeople look forward to.
The Wedding of Ukon Takayama.
The reenactment is with great fidelity to historical details.

Grave of Maria Takayama is Part of Toyono-cho Heritage

►The grave of Ukon’s mother — Maria Takayama — wife of Tomoteru Takayama (高山友照), later known as Darius Zusho Takayama (1531–1596), is located in Toyono-cho, where it is a tourist attraction to this day.

The gravesite of Maria Takayama (d. 1596), mother of Blessed Justo Takayama, still draws domestic tourists today to the ancestral Takayama Village in Toyono-cho, Osaka Prefecture. (@Yui Yamada, Philippine Department of Tourism-Osaka).

Maria Takayama was the mother of three Takayama sons, the eldest being Justus (and thus heir), and three daughters. When Ukon was stripped of his feudal domain in Akashi (1587), Maria joined Ukon during his 27-year domestic exile in Kanazawa — but when she died in 1596, the Takayama family chose to bury her in the ancestral village of Takayama in Toyono-cho, Osaka Prefecture. (That’s an acknowledgement by the Takayama family themselves that Toyono-cho, Osaka Prefecture was their hometown.)

Cardinal Maeda Visits Toyono-cho Feb. 16, 2019

►An unprecedented Eucharistic Mass commemorating Ukon’s birthplace and the Beatification of Blessed Justo Ukon Takayama on Feb. 7, 2017 will be officiated by Osaka Archbishop Thomas Aquinas Manyo Cardinal Maeda. There is no mention in Jesuit archives that a Mass was ever celebrated in Toyono-cho although it is mentioned that the Japanese Jesuit Brother Lorenzo — a wandering minstrel who himself was converted by Saint Francis Xavier — had spent some 40 days preaching in the Takayama village and the adjoining Yono village. Ukon’s father was a fervent Buddhist who was won over to Christianity by the eloquent preaching of Brother Lorenzo.

But Brother Lorenzo could only preach; he was not an ordained minister — so Cardinal Maeda may be the first priest to celebrate the Mass in Ukon’a birthplace.

Date: February 16, 2019, Saturday

◘ Venue: Ukon-no-Sato (Takayama community center in Takayama Village), Toyono Town, Osaka Prefecture.

1:20 PM — Opening Ceremony and Presentation of Appreciation & Opening Remarks by Toyono Town Mayor Hon. Isao Ikeda

2:20 PM — Mass Commemorating the Birthplace and the Beatification of Blessed Justo Ukon Takayama to be officiated by Thomas Aquinas Manyo Cardinal Maeda

3:20 PM — Handbell performance by students of the Assumption School.

The program is hosted by ● “Honor-Ukon-Takayama-Couples-Gathering” — in collaboration with ● “Ukon Takayama Canonization Promotion Committee.”

Cardinal Maeda

Cardinal Maeda himself is descended from a family of “Hidden Christians” (Kakure Kirishitans) who survived underground as they continued to practice Christianity in secret.

They worshipped in secret rooms in private homes. As time went on, the figures of the saints and the Virgin Mary were transformed into figurines that looked like the traditional statues of the Buddha and “bodhisattvas”; depictions of Mary modeled on the Buddhist deity Kannon, goddess of mercy, became common, and were known as “Maria Kannon.” The prayers were adapted to sound like Buddhist chant, yet retained many untranslated words from LatinPortuguese, and Spanish. The Bible and other parts of the liturgy were passed down orally, because printed works could be confiscated by authorities.

The Virgin Mother morphed into the Buddhist deity “Maria Kannon”

Because of the official expulsion of the Catholic clergy in the 17th century, the Kakure Christian community relied on lay leaders to lead the services. In some cases, the communities drifted away from Christian teachings. They lost the meaning of the prayers and their religion became a version of the cult of ancestors, in which the ancestors happened to be their Christian martyrs.

Recognizing that the places of “hidden” Christianity in Japan are the heritage of humanity, the UNESCO has included 12 sites in Nagasaki and in the Amakusa region on its World Listing. The places are symbols of the persecution perpetrated against Christians during the Tokugawa Shogunate (1603-1868).

A ‘Miracle of the East’

►Pope Pius IX (b. 1792; r. 1846-1878) has considered the discovery of “Hidden Christians” a “miracle of the East”: after the inauguration of the Oura Churdh in Nagasaki, a group of people from the village of Urakami asked Fr. Bernard Petitjean (1829 – 1884) — one of the two missionaries who built it — to be able to enter the church to “greet Mary.” They were “Kakure Kirishitans,” descendants of the first Japanese Christians forced into anonymity, and were followed by tens of thousands of underground Christians who came to the cathedral and resumed Christian practice.

[The remains of the castle of Hara was also included in the UNESCO list.  It was one of the scenes of the Catholics revolt “Shimabara-Amakusa Rebellion” (1637), as a result of which the persecution became harsher. Another site is the village Sakitsu, in the prefecture of Kumamoto (Amakusa), where Christians continued to practice their faith in secret.]

Cardinal Thomas Aquinas Manyo Maeda told the “Japan Times” that the recognition will allow people to discover the history of Christianity in Japan, “summarized” in forgiveness and understanding: “The [UNESCO] registration brings with it something profound and meaningful, in which a true peace for peoples comes when there is respect for each other.”

Cardinal  Maeda is working for the beatification of “hidden Christians” who had been exiled to Tsuwano in present-day Shimane prefecture, part of Hiroshima Diocese. In the final outbreak of anti-Christian persecution in Japan 150 years ago, some 3,400 Christians from Nagasaki were exiled to various places throughout the country.

Nagasaki Archbishop Joseph Mitsuaki Takami

►The Archbishop of Nagasaki, Msgr. Joseph Mitsuaki Takami, expresses the same satisfaction to “AsiaNews”: “For 250 years, Christianity has been persecuted in Japan. Now, it is recognized in its history, and many more Japanese are beginning to take an interest in Christianity.”

The rediscovery of the Japanese Christian history must also involve the faithful themselves, called to study “the history of their ancestors”: for this, on April 1, 2018, the diocese of Nagasaki inaugurated a museum on the history of Japanese Christianity, within the old residence of the bishop. “We need to remember history because it’s not the buildings that are important — concludes Archbishop Takami — but the story behind them. It is this history of faith that has universal value.”

Takayama Village, in Toyono-cho has remained relatively pristine, despite being in the highly industrialized Osaka Prefecture.

Toyono-cho is part of the Osaka Archdiocese – as well as the birthplace of Ukon Takayama, Japan’s most celebrated Christian samurai.

Cardinal Maeda’s visit is less an opportunity to evangelize – but more for Ukon’s townmates to reflect on why the Takayama family, then living at Sawa fortress in Haibara-cho, Nara Prefecture, a stronghold held by Ukon’s father, Takayama Tomoteru (1531–1596), for the Daimyo Matsunaga Hisahide (松永 久秀), 1508–1577, in Yamato Province (today in Haibara-cho, Nara Prefecture) — was moved to convert from Buddhism (as in Toyono-cho today) en masse in 1564.#

Dr. Ernesto A. de Pedro
Takayama Trustee

Promoting the Canonization of Blessed Justo Takayama on Social Media

Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle installs an image of Blessed Justo Ukon Takayama at the Manila Cathedral, where Lord Takayama served at Mass during his 44-day sojourn in Intramuros, Manila — before he passed away on Feb. 3, 1615.

►Our Manila-based movement relies on Social Media to promote the canonization of the ‘Jesuit samurai’ – Blessed Justo Takayama (Osaka 1552-Manila 1615).

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

First Japanese Martyr to Die Outside Japan

Pope Francis issued a ‘Decree of Martyrdom’ on Jan. 21, 2016, declaring Takayama, a “layperson … from Japan [who] died from the hatred of the Faith on Feb. 3, 1615 in Manila, Philippines.” He was beatified on Feb. 7, 2017. He is thus the Philippines’ THIRD Blessed.

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

Statistics on Internet Reach

TOP TEN COUNTRIES reached by the Takayama website: <takayamaukon.com> are:
►Philippines — 58.27%; ►United States – 22.68%; ►Japan – 06.99%; ►Singapore – 03.13%; ►Australia – 02.61%; ►Hong Kong – 01.66%; ►Brazil – 01.53%; ►Poland – 01.36%; ►Canada — 01.26%; and ►Romania – 01.08%.

The Takayama website is the only one in English. The above figures show how the statistics stack up.#

On Facebook Platform

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

►Promoter’s FB profile is on: //drernestodepedro.

Prayer for One Intercessory Miracle — through Blessed Takayama — in the Name of Jesus Christ

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

Dr. ERNESTO A. DE PEDRO
Managing Trustee
BLESSED TAKAYAMA CANONIZATION MOVEMENT

Canonization Requires a Miracle Granted Through the Intercession of Blessed Takayama

Medical miracles — if proven authentic — are the best supporting evidence of God’s grace.

Takayama Does NOT Perform the Miracle – Only God Does That. But We Ask Ukon to Intercede – with God!

►It may take five years. Ten years. Or 100 years. It all depends on ONE fervent Takayama devotee to remember to invoke Ukon’s name — to intercede with God for a difficult case — needing God’s  miracle.  If Blessed Takayama’s life or virtues are not known, nobody will invoke his name. There are other saints more alive and relevant to today’s everyday challenges. Thus, the ardor of Takayama devotees to share all available studies about the man, his life, his virtues. In time, he should be a familiar go-to friend — an exemplar of a courageous Catholic who dedicated his life being obedient to God’s will.

Not all “Beati” (Blessed) get to be canonized as Saints. There is a large number of Blessed – with incorruptible bodies – who have not been proclaimed Saints, though they are miracles by themselves. The requirement of the Pontifical Congregation for the Causes of Saints is for a miracle from God for some supplicant — realized though their intercession.

Among Japan’s 436 venerated Martyrs – 394 Blessed have NOT graduated to Saints yet, waiting for miracles to be performed through their intercession. If no devotee remembers to ask for their intercession, will a miracle ever happen?

DURING HIS LIFETIME, many people found Takayama Ukon’s life a great inspiration — his holiness was so evident. In Manila, he was regarded as a living saint.

At his deathbed, Ukon implored Our Lady of the Rosary for her prayers “now and at the hour of our death,” was given the Last Rites by Jesuit priests, while surrounded by his loving family. Here was a saint indeed! In the Catholic religion, anyone who dies in a state of grace is in the presence of God for all eternity. They became saints the moment they entered Heaven.

Which is why the Manila Archdiocese readily proposed Sainthood for Takayama Ukon de Manila in 1630. But the process of being recognized as Official Saints – of being enrolled in the Church’s “Canon of Saints” – requires a long official process involving both the proposing diocese and the Vatican.

Specific Petition

To be proclaimed as an Official Saint in the Holy Roman Catholic Church, the Congregation for the Making of Saints requires that a miracle be produced through the intercession of a candidate — as proof of God’s caring grace. According to the Church, miracles — or divine events that have no natural or scientific explanation — serve as proof that the person is in Heaven and can intercede with God to change the ordinary course of events. Since such miracles are considered proof that the person can intercede for us, the miracle must take place as a result of a specific petition to that particular candidateNOT a scatter-shot “Prayer to All the Saints in Heaven – Particularly Blessed Takayama de Manila Who is in Need of a Miracle.” The prayer must be for the solo intercession of the newly beatified Blessed Takayama with God – to make the miracle happen.

In brief, it must be the gravely-ill patient himself, anxious for a miracle from God, who invokes the intercession of Blessed Takayama, who himself died from an illness the doctors could not heal.

A growing community of Prayer Warriors for Blessed Takayama de Manila – from Sikatuna Village (Quezon City) to Waukesha, Wisconsin (USA) — have emailed their readiness to support the miracle-seeker’s prayers with our own concerted supplications — wherever in the world the patient may be.

Scientifically Unexplainable

If a miracle through the intercession of Blessed Takayama is reported in Manila or Osaka — a Diocesan Commission, composed of scientific experts and theologians, will examine the claimed miracle. To be recognized as such, the purported medical miracle must be “spontaneous, instantaneous and complete healing — while also being scientifically unexplainable. Doctors must conclude, ‘We don’t have any natural explanation of what happened.’” If the claim passes muster, this is forwarded to the Vatican — where a Miracle Commission sifts through all such claims.

Decree of Miracle

If the Pope agrees, he issues a Decree of a Miracle. Through the Rite of Canonization, the Pope, by an act which is protected from error by the Holy Spirit, elevates a person to the universal veneration of the Holy Roman Catholic Church.

By canonization, the Pope does not make the person a Saint. Rather the Holy Father declares that the Saint – who was actually a saint upon his death — is indeed with God and is an example of someone who lived a holy life in obedience to God’s will — worthy of emulation by the faithful throughout Christendom. ◘

By Dr. ERNIE A. DE PEDRO
Managing Trustee
Lord Takayama Jubilee Foundation

 

Tagalog Text of Prayer for Blessed Takayama’s Intercession

PANALANGIN UPANG HINGIN ANG PAMAMAGITAN NI BEATO TAKAYAMA

►O Diyos, sa iyong kahanga-hangang pagkupkop,
pinili mo si Justo Ukon Takayama
na maging natatanging tagataguyod ng Iyong Kaharian
at isang di matitinag na saksi ng Pananampalatayang Katoliko.

Gantimpalaan Mo, hinihiling namin, ang kanyang sigasig para sa iyong kaluwalhatian,
at, sa kanyang pamamagitan,
malugod mong ipagkaloob ang aming mga hinihiling ng may kababaang-loob.

At nawa’y buong tapang din naming harapin ang lahat ng mga pagsubok,
gaya ng kanyang ipinakitang halimbawa,
para sa aming Pananampalatayang Katoliko.

Sa pamamagitan ni Jesu-Kristong aming Panginoon.
Amen. ◘

By Rev. Msgr. Rolando R. dela Cruz
Parish Priest, Paco Catholic Church

San Lorenzo Ruiz: First Filipino Martyr and Saint

Filipino Proto-Martyr

As the University of Santo Tomas hosts the  Philippine Conference On New Evangelization (PCNE 4) 2017 on July 28-30, 2017, it is fair to ask: How would a Filipino Catholic face the same test of faith that some 30,000 Japanese martyrs (42 of whom have been proclaimed Saints, while 394 have been beatified or declared “Blessed”) and several hundred Korean converts in Japan (108 of whom are Martyr-Saints) had willingly faced?

We have only one example – San Lorenzo Ruiz (c1600–1637) who tried to flee Manila on board a ship with three Dominican priests who were purposively going to Japan to proselyte, with Lorenzo Ruiz just trying to get away from Manila.

All were arrested upon landing, and after two years in prison, martyred in Nagasaki.

Little is known about San Lorenzo. He was born around the year 1600 in Binondo, Manila – the traditional district for Chinese Christians. He was the son of a Chinese father and a Filipino mother. Both were Christians and took care to raise Lorenzo as a Catholic. He served in his parish church as an altar boy and calligrapher. He was listed as a member of the Dominican Confraternity of the Most Holy Rosary.

Lorenzo married a woman named Rosario. The couple had three children —  two sons and one daughter. By Dominican accounts, the family was ordinary and happy.

In 1636, Lorenzo was accused of murder. Allegedly he killed a Spaniard – and in Manila, justice would have been stacked against him, a Chinese mestizo. There are no details of this alleged crime other than a journal entry by two Dominican priests, that he joined their group bound for Japan to escape possible arrest.

The ship departed the Philippines on June 10, 1636, bound for Okinawa. Lorenzo and the Dominican missionaries were arrested by Japanese officials for the state crime of being Christians and ordered to recant their faith. When Lorenzo refused he was imprisoned for two years. On Sept. 27, 1637, Lorenzo and his companions were taken to Nagasaki to be tortured and killed if they would not recant their faith. Despite the painful torture, the men refused to abjure their Catholic religion.

Following this, Lorenzo was hanged upside down, with a rope around his ankles. This method of torture was known as tsurushi, or “gallows and pit.” The torture forces a person to be hanged upside down with a gash cut in their forehead to prevent too much blood from gathering in the head. The gash also causes the victim to bleed to death over an extended period of time. One hand is left free so the victim can offer an agreed symbol that will represent their desire to recant their faith. But Lorenzo refused to recant.

According to the record of his death, his last words were, “I am a Catholic and wholeheartedly do accept death for God. Had I a thousand lives, all these to Him I shall offer. Do with me as you please.”

Lorenzo Ruiz  was in good company: St. Antonio Gonzalez, St. Guillermo Courtet, and St. Miguel de Aozaraza; a Japanese priest, St. Vicente Shiwozuka de la Cruz; and a lay leper, St. Lázaro of Kyoto.

Lorenzo was beatified by Pope John Paul II on February 18, 1981 in Manila – a first! The beatification ceremony was held in the Philippines making it the first beatification ceremony ever held outside the Vatican. It was the revered statue of Our Lady of the Holy Rosary (known in Manila as “La Japona”), brought back by Lord Justo Takayama Ukon from Nagasaki in 1614 that “presided over the Beatification Ceremonies of ‘Lorenzo Ruiz and Companions’ in 1981.”

His canonization took place at the Vatican on October 18, 1987. His feast day is September 28. ◘

Dr. Ernesto A. de Pedro, Managing Trustee
Lord Takayama Jubilee Foundation

Prayers for a Very Desperate Case – Baby Charlie Gard

Only a Miracle Will Help!

The world has been riveted by the case of the baby Charlie Gard, and the decision of a British hospital, a British court and the highest court in the European Union – to switch off the life-giving apparatus that is keeping the less-than-one-year-old baby alive. The world has responded by raising funds to make treatment in America possible.

On July 4, Francis McKinney  contacted Blessed Takayama Canonization Movement asking for prayers for the desperate baby, Charlie Gard.

“About four months ago, I discovered Blessed Takayama. I pray to him as often as I can.  Now, I am not sure if you are aware, but a 10-month old baby by the name of Charlie Gard was to be taken off of life support today for a terminal illness. The European Court had ruled that today was his last. Last night, my family and I knelt down and said a Rosary and prayed the prayer of Blessed Takayama. We asked him that if it was the Lord’s will, to let Charlie live. We asked that someone in power speak out — either Pope Francis or Donald Trump — so that they may influence the concrete decision. As we speak, Charlie Gard is supposed to have been dead.  Both Donald Trump and Pope Francis have made a statement regarding poor Charlie within hours of each other.

“I feel in my heart that Blessed Takayama, through the grace of our Lord, intervened and helped Charlie Gard.  If you need proof of my prayers, I took screenshots of my Twitter last night saying that I was praying to Blessed Takayama…”.

Immediately, an email was sent out to Prayer Warriors of Blessed Takayama — both lay devotees and religious congregations — in the Philippines and abroad, asking for prayers. Nothing elaborate, The Prayer formulated by Fr. Johannes Laures, SJ – which appears on the Takayama website (www.takayamaukon.com) — will do, followed by “Our Father” and “Hail Mary.”

But the situation remains desperate. Baby Charlie Gard is still in England, waiting for clearance to reach America – and a possible cure.

Please continue to pray for him. ◘

►BREAKING NEWS — (CNN) British baby Charlie Gard, who was at the center of a legal battle that captured the world’s attention, died Friday (July 28, 2017) — one week before his first birthday. “Our beautiful little boy has gone, we’re so proud of him,” his mother, Connie Yates, said in a statement.

Charlie was born on August 4, 2016, seemingly healthy. But two months into his short life his parents noticed his health was declining. They took him to London’s Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children in October where he remained at least until Thursday.

Those of us who fervently implored Blessed Takayama to intercede with God for his well-being send their heartfelt condolences to Charlie’s parents and loved-ones at this very sad time. ◘

►Today (Saturday, July 29)  — At 6 PM, the Blessed Justo Takayama Ukon Canonization Movement is sponsoring a Thanksgiving Mass at the Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish Church (Claret Church), Quezon City, officiated by Fr. DESIDERIO MARTIN, CMF, to celebrate the passage of the baby Charlie Gard to God’s Heaven yesterday – one week before his first birthday on August 4.

We do not grieve. We rejoice. And we invite you to be the additional “two or three” so the Lord will be in our midst. Wherever you are, please say a prayer too — not for Charlie alone – but for yourself and your loved ones, remembering we all teeter daily at the brink of our inevitable mortality. ◘

Dr. Ernesto A. de Pedro, Managing Trustee
Lord Takayama Jubilee Foundation

All We Need Now Is A Miracle!

Needed: A Validating Miracle!

Only two months into Facebook, we have finally renewed contact with Rev. Gary Barbaree and Rev. Nobuaki Hanaoka, both American Methodist ministers who participated in the First Takayama Symposium at the University of Santo Tomas (UST) in Manila in 1990, to mark the 375th Anniversary of Takayama Ukon (1552-1615). They were researching in Tokyo on Takayama – and how Takayama Ukon blended Christian ethics and the Japanese point of view to help them in their own evangelization of Japanese Americans — but were told to proceed to UST which was the center for Takayama Studies. THANK YOU, U.S.T. GRADUATE SCHOOL!

On June 8, 1994, the Vatican’s Congregation for the Causes of Saints conferred the title “Servant of God” on Takayama. A second Takayama Symposium was sponsored by UST in 1995 to discuss that encouraging development. Without passing through the prescribed second step — “Venerable” — Takayama was beatified (declared BLESSED) on Feb. 7, 2017.

The fastest progression for Japanese martyrs from BLESSED to SAINT was the Sixteen Martyrs of Japan (1633-1637) — beatified 1981, and canonized 1987. Only six years! Just 30 years ago!

February 3 has been designated as the feastday of Blessed Takayama in the Universal Church. With the concerted prayers of Catholic devotees worldwide, we could aspire for canonization in six years too! IF there is a validating miracle.

By Dr. Ernie A. De Pedro, Managing Trustee
Lord Takayama Jubilee Foundation