ELIZABETH DE LA FUENTE: SHARING WITH YOU THE APOSTOLIC BLESSING IMPARTED BY POPE FRANCIS TO ‘PRAYER WARRIORS OF BLESSED TAKAYAMA’
►As Pope Francis is preparing for a Papal Visit to Japan in November 2019, the Prayers Warriors of Blessed Takayama were anxious to make His Holiness aware that an earlier Pope – His Holiness Sixtus V (r. 1585-1590) — imparted his Apostolic Blessing to the ex-Daimyo Justo Ukon Takayama – who, when he refused to abjure his Catholic faith, was stripped in 1587 of his feudal domain at Akashi — on the Seto Inland Sea west of Kobe, Japan.
Pope Sixtus V 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.#
►With the endorsement of Manila Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle, and the facilitation of the Apostolic Nuncio to Manila, Archbishop Gabriele Giordano Caccia, I was allowed to write directly to His Holiness Pope Francis. I presented to him ◘ a framed copy of the Papal Breve sent in 1590 by Pope Sixtus V to the dispossessed Lord Takayama, and ◘ an altar-statue of Blessed Takayama, sponsored by the “Via Lucis Pilgrim Group 112011,” which was chaplained by then-Imus Bishop (now Cardinal) Tagle in 2011.
►On August 14, we received a reply — (no postmark; it was delivered by courier to my door) — dated July 25 — as follows:
“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.”
It was signed: ✠ Archbishop Edgar Peña, Substitute Secretary for General Affairs, Vatican Secretariat of State.#
►Pope Francs has – so far – imparted TWO Apostolic Blessing connected with Blessed Justo Ukon Takayama (1552 Osaka-1615 Manila; beatified 2017):
◘ APOSTOLIC BLESSING TO OSAKA CARDINAL MAEDA: When Pope Francis appointed Cardinal Thomas Aquinas Manyo Maeda to represent him at the 60th Anniversary of the post-war reconstruction of the Manila Cathedral (Dec. 8, 2018), he imparted his Apostolic Blessing: “And indeed desiring for you a heavenly companion in Manila, we also commend you to Blessed Justo Takayama Ukon, who is recently raised to the glory of the altars in Osaka. We therefore abundantly pour upon you our Apostolic Blessing; and we generously share it with all of those to whom you will be sent: beloved pastors, seminarians, religious men and women, and lay Christian faithful, most especially the poor and the children.”
►APOSTOLIC BLESSING [No. 460.258] TO ‘ALL 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.”
Wherefore, we are obligated to share the Apostolic Blessing with ALL who support the Canonization Cause of Blessed Takayama — the Japan-born Manila Catholic who is the Philippine Church’s THIRD Blessed and the 436th Venerated Martyr of Japan.
The Takayama Cause is blessed by your continuing support and devotion. With the assurance of the Holy Father’s prayers, we are happy to share with you a framed parchment of Pope Francis’ Apostolic Blessing – with your name imprinted therein. United in prayer and mission.3
►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.”#
►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.
►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.#
►Lord Justo Ukon Takayama (高山右近) — then already in domestic exile in Kanazawa, capital of Ishikawa Prefecture, on Japan’s central Honshu Island — was deported by the Tokugawa Shogunate to the Philippines in 1614 for refusing to abjure his Catholic faith. Ukon arrived with his wife, Doña Justa Kuroda Takayama, his married daughter Lucia Yokoyama, and five grandsons, 8 to 16 (all surnamed Takayama) with the first boatload of 350 “refugees and migrants” deported from Japan, docking in Manila on Sunday, Dec. 21, 1614 — to a warm welcome from Manilans.
Only 44 days after his arrival in Manila, Takayama died – “martyred” in the reckoning of the Church – on Feb. 3, 1615.
He was the first Manila Catholic to be proposed for sainthood by the Manila Archdiocese in 1630. He was declared “Servant of God” in 1994. And was beatified by authority of Pope Francis in 2017.
►Blessed Takayama is the Philippine Church’s THIRD “Beatus” (Blessed) — and Japan’s 436th Martyr.
Though there are “over a hundred” different artistic representations of him (*check out Google/Images under “Takayama Ukon”), the Takayama image presented to the Tokyo Cathedral was based on the Takayama statue that was erected as the centerpiece of the Philippines-Japan Friendship Park in Plaza Dilao, Manila in 1977. The version carved by the renowned Paete artist, Paloy Cagayat, shows the “Samurai of Christ,” Ukon Takayama. in a pose associated with St. Ignatius (1491- 1556) — offering his sword in the service of Christ.
►The altar-statue for Tokyo Cathedral, produced by the Prayer Warriors of Blessed Takayama, was sponsored by “The Gathering of Filipino Groups and Communities” (GFGC) in the Archdiocese of Tokyo, chaired by Dr. Maria Carmelita Kasuya, Research Associate Professor at the University of Tokyo since 2001.
►It is the apostolate of the Prayer Warriors of Blessed Takayama in Manila to spread to Catholic parishes worldwide the Takayama statues and figurines (*shown being presented to Pope Francis by Fr. Renzo de Luca, SJ, Father Provincial of the Jesuits in Japan) – as an aid to evoking the memory of this Catholic of heroic virtue, who died a martyr in Manila – the first Manila Catholic to be proposed for sainthood in the Philippine Church.
Welcome to St. Mary’s Cathedral
►Tokyo Archbishop Tarcisius Isao Kikuchi, SVD, welcomed parishioners and their guests to the Tokyo Cathedral.
Ushered in by children with flowers and candles
►Children with flowers and candles ushered the procession of four Filipino parishioners who carried the Takayama statue into the Tokyo Cathedral.
Four Filipinos were chosen to escort the Takayama altar-statue to the High Altar. Left: Jan Michael Acaylar, Right: Leroy Llorente. Back Left: Manny Rosario, Right: Chino Manding Caddarao.
On Vocation Sunday
►As May 12, 2019 was Vocation Sunday, there was a large complement of priests during the Takayama installation.
Takayama Hymn ‘To the End’ Was Sung
►The words and music of the Takayama Ukon hymn were written by Jay Gomez (of the Jesuit Ministry of Music, Manila)
“How do we make the choice As you have made to hear His voice? What did you see? What did you know? All that you had, for Him, you let go.
Takayama Ukon, we will follow your lead. Together as one, His call, we shall heed. The life that you lived will show us the way. Walk us through this journey. We will not astray.
You honored and loved the Father In the midst of martial power. You stood by the church, held on to His word, Withstanding the draw of this blinding world
Takayama Ukon, your faith is esteemed A reminder that we, through CHRIST, are redeemed. Takayama Ukon, you did not bend. While there’s fear and doubt in others, You believed in Him to the end.”
Isa kang sorpresa, mula bansang Hapon. Sana’y nagkapiling ng mas mahabang panahon. Di man nagtagal ang naging samahan Minahal ka ng bayan, ang Perlas Ng Silangan!#
“To the End Hymn”was sung by 💥Soloist Redd Sumpaico (from Himig Koenji), with 💥Puchie Velez on the piano.
Prayer-Card(‘Estampitas’) in Japanese and English
►The Takayama Intercessory Prayer, composed by Fr. Johannes Laures, SJ in the 1940s — was printed with an image painted by the late Noel Velez, a Takayama devotee who painted a number of Takayama images — and distributed to the congregation.
Concelebrated Mass, Presided by Archbishop Kikuchi
►The Filipino community in Tokyo attended the installation.
Homily of Archbishop Tarcisio Isao Kikuchi, SVD
►As we begin today’s Mass for Vocation Sunday, we will first have the blessing of the statue of Blessed Justo Takayama Ukon which will be brought to the altar with a procession by our brothers and sisters from the Philippines. Later, this statue of the blessed martyr will be placed at the rear portion of this Cathedral.
As you know, Takayama Ukon was a warlord (daimyo) who refused to abandon his religion even though the repression of Christianity became increasingly severe, leading him to give up so much.
After Toyotomi Hideyoshi issued an edict expelling the foreign missionaries, Ukon chose to give up all his possessions in exchange for protecting his faith. In 1614, during the time of Tokugawa Ieyasu, he was expelled to Manila, and on the following year, died there on the 3rd of February 1615. Ukon had to let go of everything, including leaving his own motherland, only to keep the faith, thus, the Church considers him a martyr, and beatified him in 2017.
There is a reason why our brothers and sisters from the Philippines brought this statue here. Blessed Takayama Ukon, who died in Manila, is venerated even in the Philippines, and a statue of him is also erected in Manila. The Filipinos have become a moving force in the Cause for the beatification and canonization of Takayama Ukon — researching, praying together for his canonization, and collecting donations from different church communities.
Today, we receive this statue as a gift, but it would not have been possible for this statue to be shipped and brought into this cathedral without the great efforts of our Filipino communities in the Archdiocese of Tokyo. I would like to express my gratitude to all of you, especially for shouldering all the expenses.
I believe it is fitting that Blessed Takayama Ukon is honored in this Mass for Vocation Sunday. A Japanese who has been beatified, had crossed borders, transcended cultures, and to date is venerated in the Philippines, tells a lot about the universality of the Church.
With the Philippine Church accepting Takayama Ukon as a brother of the same Christian faith during his last days and until now honors his life with respect, further strengthens the ties between the Japanese church and the Philippine church.
At the same time, as we support each other, we affirm each other in the life of faith.
It also teaches us clearly that our faith has universal value transcending cultures and nationalities.
For this year’s World Day of Vocations, Pope Francis released a message entitled “The Courage to Take a Risk for God’s Promise.” The Pope pointed out that responding to the call of Jesus is a big challenge in life as he states, “Every vocation is a summons not to stand on the shore, nets in hand, but to follow Jesus on the path he has marked out for us, for our own happiness and for the good of those around us.”
Responding to Jesus’ call does not mean that you stay in a safe place and do nothing. It is not an easy task but it involves putting ourselves on the line and continue facing the challenge with great courage. The Pope continues to say that, “embracing this promise naturally demands the courage to risk making a decision… Responding to the Lord’s call involves putting ourselves on the line and facing a great challenge with our whole body and spirit.”
The very life of Takayama Ukon is truly about “putting oneself on the line and confronting great challenges with courage.” Even if he loses his position and fame in the society at that time, his attitude to keep faith is firm and strong. He could have made a compromise somewhere, and he would have walked his life without much trouble. However, Takayama Ukon did not make that choice. I think that the life of Takayama Ukon was a life that had the courage to continue facing challenges and holding on to his decision to respond to the call of the Lord.
Just as the Pope himself mentioned in his message, when we speak of vocations today, it is not limited only with priests and religious. Every Christian has his own vocation. Therefore facing challenges with courage is not only for special persons with specific roles, but rather a necessity for all Christians. The Pope writes: “I think of the decision to marry in Christ and to form a family, as well as all those other vocations associated with work and professional life, with the commitment to charity and solidarity, with social and political responsibilities, and so forth. These vocations make us bearers of a promise of goodness, love and justice.”
Today is Good Shepherd Sunday and the gospel states, “My sheep hear my voice.” In order for us to continue with courage the path we have chosen, we need a strong, loving Shepherd. To follow that Good Shepherd, we must know His voice. Do we really know the voice of the Good Shepherd? Do we know how to distinguish His voice? Here we find meaning in imitating the life of the saints, our predecessors in the faith. The saints who bravely lived the faith are those who have truly heard and followed the voice of the Good Shepherd. Therefore, as we learn from their way of life and try to live up to that model, we can begin to follow the path of listening to the voice of the Good Shepherd as they did.
As we receive today the gift of the statue of Blessed Justo Takayama Ukon, I believe it is appropriate that it coincides with the celebration of Vocation Sunday. Let us learn from Justo Takayama Ukon, who heard the voice of the Good Shepherd and followed Him and we pray for his intercession that like him we may also hear the voice of the Good Shepherd.#
Last Word from Archbishop Kikuchi:
“During today’s Vocation Sunday Mass, a statue of Blssed Takayama Ukon donated by our Filipino friends in Manila was blessed. Grateful to our Filipino community in the Archdiocese.”
►🎼🎵🎶 •♫**• With lyrics by Fr. Tim Ofrasio, SJ, and music by Dom Joseph Bulan, SJ, it is the FIRST Takayama Tagalog hymn to reach us this year. •♫**• 🎶🎵🎶
“Mabunying Samurai” (Awit kay Justo Ukon Takayama) By Tim Ofrasio, SJ – Dom Bulan, SJ
►1. Sumikat na araw sa bukang liwayway
Nagsabog ng liwanag sa kalupaan
Justo Ukon Takayama, maginoong banal
Daimyo’t samurai na kahanga-hanga.
►2. Di nag-atubiling lahat ay talikdan
Mawala pati yaman, dangal ng ngalan,
Kanya mang iwanan bayang niliyag
Pagka-Kristiano niya’y tunay na ipahayag.
KORO: Nawa’y buong tapang din naming harapin
Lahat ng pagsubok sa buhay namin
Tulad ng halimbawang lingkod ng Ama
O dakilang Justo Ukon Takayama.
►3. Mistulang martir na nagbuwis ng buhay
Alang-alang kay Kristong tagapag-akay
Huwarang Samurai na matapang at tapat
Kay Kristong Hari gantimpala’y ganap.
KORO: Naway buong tapang din namin harapin
Lahat ng pagsubok sa buhay namin
Tulad ng halimbawang lingkod ng Ama.
O dakilang Justo Ukon Takayama. #
►The Jesuit Music Ministry (JMM) – an arm of Jesuit Communications Philippines (JesCom) directed by Fr. Emmanuel Alfonso, SJ — is a producer and publisher of music for use in the liturgy of the Roman Catholic church. It was established in response to Vatican II’s “Sacrosanctum Concilium” which urged the entire congregation to actively participate in the liturgy that includes singing. JMM songs are now sung in churches not only in the Philippines but throughout the world.
By 1965, JMM began composing songs in the Filipino idiom. Many well-remembered compositions followed throughout the 70’s, resulting in what could be called “classics” of Filipino Liturgical Music: “Ama Namin (Our Father),” “Ang Puso Ko’y Nagpupuri (Magnificat)” and “Pananagutan.” 1981 saw the release of “Himig Heswita,” an album celebrating 400 years since the arrival of the Jesuits in the Philippines.
JMM has built on this splendid track record since then.#
Lyrics by Fr. Tim Ofrasio, SJ
►The lyricist, Fr. Tim Ofrasio. SJ, writes: “I was requested by Fr. Manoling Francisco, SJ, the renowned Jesuit composer — for lyrics for a proposed song for Blessed Takayama.
“I had no inspiration whatsoever, but still tried to research his life history. I prayed to him to help me write verses on his life and sacrifice. The inspiration I received was about the Jesus Christ as the true rising Sun, and the fidelity of this noble samurai to his Lord, the true rising Sun. I was also touched by Takayama’s willingness to turn his back from his lofty position and earthly honors in order to stand for his faith in Jesus Christ, to the point of leaving his homeland in order to remain faithful to his Lord.
“In this sense, he faced martyrdom, albeit unbloody, but nonetheless painful. Thus the lyrics of the hymn.”
Music by Dom Bulan, SJ
►The composer, Dom Joseph Bulan, SJ [Dom Bulan], writes: “It was really a fruit of collaboration since we received the request to come up with the hymn from Lester Mendiola of Jesuit Music Ministry. (It was actually one of your [Dr. Ernesto A. de Pedro’s] emails where you attached some prayers and information about his life).
“I asked Fr. Tim if he could come up with the lyrics for the hymn, and he gladly came up with it.
“I was the one who wrote the music for the piece, and in the process solicited some suggestions from Fr. Manoling Francisco, SJ (of the Jesuit Music Ministry, who has composed over 150 songs that are sung all over the world) and Fr. Arnel Aquino, SJ., Assistant Professor of Systematic Theology, who has written 18 songs for the JMM, among them, “Pagsibol” and “Ito Ang Araw.”
►Among the Jesuit Music Ministry’s many choirs, it was “Tinig Barangka,” which recorded “Mabunying Samurai” under JMM Director Lester Mendiola. “Tinig Barangka” started singing during the 70’s under Fr. Eduardo Hontiveros, SJ, as the “Barangka Choir” and later changed into “Tinig Barangka.” Composed by professionals and students whose mission is to spread God’s love through the songs, the choir started singing in concerts of the 70’s like “Purihi’t Pasalamatan,” “Hesus na Aking Kapatid,” “Talinghaga” — which promoted Filipino liturgical music. “Tinig Barangka” has worked with numerous conductors and composers, including ● Fr. Eduardo Hontiveros, SJ, ● Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle, ● Fr. Nemie Que, SJ, ● Fr. Fruto Ramirez, SJ, ● Fr. Tim Ofrasio, SJ, ● Fr. Manoling Francisco, SJ, and ● Fr. Arnel Aquino, SJ. Today “Tinig Barangka” continues to usher out the quality standards of liturgical music with the passion of serving God and His people.
First Church Rendition
►On Saturday, June 29 – feast day of St. Peter & St. Paul — “Mabunying Samurai” will be sung for the first time at two related events — in Manila and in Wilmington, California: ◘ The installation of Blessed Takayama at the PLM University Chapel by Manila Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle, and ◘ The installation of Blessed Takayama at the St. Peter & Sr. Paul Catholic Church in Wilmington, California at 5 PM (California time) – by Rev. Fr. Hildebrand Garceau, O.Praem.#
►The story of the celebrated “Samurai for Christ” — Dom Justo Ukon Takayama (1552-1615) — is of enduring interest for all people of faith. Why has this Japanese Christian samurai of heroic virtue resonated so well among so many devotees across the world?
Here’s a brief that accompanies every Takayama statuette:
►One of the greatest heroes of the martyr Church of Japan is undoubtedly the Catholic lay apostle, Justo Ukon Takayama, or “Justus Ucondono” as he was usually called by Jesuit missionaries. Although he greatly desired to shed his blood for Christ, he was not granted this honor, yet he sacrificed everything on three separate occasions for his Divine Master, was exiled to a foreign land (the Philippines) for the sake of his Faith, and died in Manila as a result of the hardships endured on the voyage to his exile.
Ukon Takayama was one of the greatest men of his era. He was an able ruler (as Daimyo, or feudal governor of Takatsuki from age 21, and later, of Akashi), a great general, an ingenious strategist, a master of the tea ceremony, a harmonious personality, and above all, an exemplary and saintly Christian.
He preached the Gospel among Japanese Buddhists — (which the Takayama family professed until their conversion and baptism in 1564) – better than many of the Jesuit missionaries. His amiable and attractive personality and, more striking, his blameless life, attracted numerous souls to the fold of the Good Shepherd. Not only did he convert his vassals and subjects to the Catholic Faith, but a number of the greatest personalities of his era were also won over by his entreaties and example to the cause of Christ. The Daimyos Gamo Ujisato, Kuroda Yoshitaka, and Lady Hosokawa Gracia were the most outstanding of them — but there were many others whose number and identity is known to God alone.
Ukon’s unblemished chastity was so generally admired even his adversary, Toyotomi Hideyoshi (豊臣 秀吉, 1537–1598), who ruled Japan 1583-1598) could not but admire it.
‘Samurai of Christ’
As a samurai-daimyo devoted to Christ, Ukon Takayama professed his Faith openly — fighting battles under the Sign of the Cross.
When the hegemon Oda Nobunaga (織田 信長, 1534–1582; r. 1574-1582) threatened to massacre all Christians and destroy their churches — unless Ukon handed over to him the strategic castle of Takatsuki (in Osaka Prefecture), the heroic champion of Christ, without hesitation, renounced his domain and betook himself to Nobunaga, with shaved head — ready to die with the missionaries and Christians. Doing this, he fully realized the terrible danger to which he exposed the lives of his only son and his little sister, who were held as hostages by his suzerain Araki Murashige. God deigned to save Ukon’s life, spare his hostages and secure for him Nobunaga’s admiration and good graces.
When Toyotomi Hideyoshi (who succeeded Nobunaga) suddenly turned persecutor in 1587, Ukon Takayama was called upon either to deny his Faith, or lose his fief, and he gladly gave up everything rather than turn traitor to his Divine Master.
For several years, his life and the lives of his family were in grave danger – because of hatred for the Faith. Even after Hideyoshi’s wrath had cooled, he never again became a ruling daimyo but lived in relative obscurity as a guest samurai-general of the Daimyo Toshiee Maeda in Kanazawa. For the next 26 years, Takayama devoted his time sharing the Gospel, striving to be a worthy channel of God’s grace, It was in 1590 that Pope Sixtus V heard of Ukon’s plight. In a rare gesture, the Pope sent his Apostolic Blessings to Takayama, enjoining him to hold on to the Faith – and be an example to other oppressed Christians,
In 1614, Tokugawa Ieyasu (徳川家康, 1543 – 1616) resolved to exterminate Christianity — “that evil foreign religion” — and Ukon Takayama was again among the first targets. Since the tyrant could not hope to make him apostatize, he exiled him to a foreign land, calculating that he would not long survive the rigors and hardships of the voyage. The fact that Ukon died a few weeks after his arrival at Manila shows most clearly that Ieyasu’s calculation has been only too correct. Thus Ukon Takayama had the satisfaction of giving up his life for the Divine Master.
In the estimation of his contemporaries, Ukon Takayama was a saintly man. After he had been deposed as Lord of Akashi (in 1587), he was now freer to preach the Gospel — ready to be killed for his Faith. When he visited Kyushu, the Christians there venerated him as a martyr.
Exiled to Manila
In Manila, he was welcomed with religious enthusiasm, for everyone was well aware of the honor of giving hospitality to a renowned Confessor of the Faith. His premature death on Feb. 3, 1615 caused general mourning and regret that Manila had been deprived of the presence of a man of God. His funeral in Intramuros, accorded by Church and State, was a great tribute to him, underscoring that an outstanding Servant of God had passed to a better life.
‘Son of Manila’
The Archdiocese of Manila (as the diocese where Takayama died, or where he was “born to Heaven”) first presented to the Vatican a petition for the beatification of Ukon Takayama in 1630 — only 15 years after he died. This was the FIRST EVER petition for sainthood sent to the Vatican from the Philippine Church!
Many who have remembered this heroic champion of Christ across the centuries continue to pray fervently that Ukon Takayama would someday be raised to the honors of the Altar, and thus be set as a model for young people.#
Takayama’s Timeline in the Philippines
1614 – (Dec. 21) — Arrival in Manila of Lord Justo Ukon Takayama with 350 Japanese Christian asylum seekers.
1615 – (Feb. 3) – Death of Ukon in Intramuros, Manila at the Jesuit/PLM Compound.
1630 – (Oct, 5) — Original Petition for Takayama’s sainthood sent by Manila Archdiocese to the Vatican.
1937 – (Feb. 3) – The 33rd International Eucharistic Congress in Manila (Feb. 3-7, 1937) passes resolution supporting the Beatification Cause of Takayama.
1942 – (Sept. 20) – Takayama Memorial Mass in honor of Takayama — a symbol of Philippine-Japanese friendship and amity in time of war — is celebrated at San Marcelino Church – with Japanese military and Philippine government officials in attendance.
1963 – (April 24) – Manila Cardinal Rufino J. Santos endorses to the Japanese Church the Cause of Takayama.
1977 – (Nov. 17) – Inauguration of the Takayama Memorial as the centerpiece of the Philippines-Japan Friendship Park at Plaza Dilao, Paco, Manila.
1992 – (Nov. 17) – Takayama Memorial is declared a National Monument by the National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP).
1994 — (June 5) – The “Samurai of Christ” is declared “Servant of God.”
2016 – (Jan. 21) – Decree of Martyrdom issued by Pope Francis, declaring Takayama, a “layperson … from Japan [who] died from the hatred of the Faith on Feb. 3, 1615 in Manila, Philippines.”
2017 — (Feb. 7) — Beatification of the “Servant of God” Justo Ukon Takayana as a Beatus (“Blessed”).
2017 – (March 28) — Takayama Shrine established at the Thomas Aquinas Research Complex (TARC), home of the UST Graduate School.
2018 – (Feb. 3) — Liturgical feast day of Blessed Takayama in Japan and the Philippines.
2018 – (Dec. 21) — Manila City Council issues a Resolution declaring every December 21 – as “Blessed Takayama Ukon Day” in Manila.#
Manila-Based Trustees of Takayama’s Memory
►The Manila-based “Blessed Takayama Canonization Movement” relies on Social Media to promote (in English) the canonization of the “Jesuit samurai” – Blessed Justo Takayama (Osaka 1552-Manila 1615).
Takayama died in Intramuros, Manila on Feb. 3, 1615 – only 44 days after he and 350 Japanese Christian exiles arrived in Manila. Because, under Church rubrics, “where a person dies, is where one is born to Heaven,” the Manila Archdiocese proposed this “Son of Manila” for sainthood at the Vatican on Oct. 5, 1630 – the first candidate EVER proposed by the Philippine Church.
Pope Francis issued a ‘Decree of Martyrdom’ on Jan. 21, 2016, declaring Lord Takayama, a “layperson … from Japan [who] died from the hatred of the Faith on Feb. 3, 1615 in Manila, Philippines.”
Servant of God Justo Ukon Takayama was beatified on Feb. 7, 2017. He is thus the Philippines’ THIRD Blessed – and 436th venerated martyr of Japan.
How Did Filipinos Get Involved in this Japanese Cause?
►With funding from Buddhist and Protestant admirers of Lord Takayama, a group of Filipino and Japanese history buffs in Manila decided to send Dr. Ernesto A. de Pedro to visit the Vatican Archives in 1986, to research on Vatican archival materials about Lord Justo Ukon Takayama (whose Memorial at Plaza Dilao was erected in 1977). The Archives Director was puzzled why a Filipino researcher was interested in the Japanese “Samurai of Christ” — Ukon Takayama.
De Pedro explained that Takayama died in Manila in 1615 – and there was a flow of Japanese pilgrims visiting Manila to trace Takayama’s footsteps – and wanted to know more about the “historical Takayama.”
When De Pedro visited the Jesuit Curia, the Jesuit General Postulator, Fr. Paolo Molinari, SJ, — who was in charge of the “Beatification Cause of Takayama” (an “ancient cause” pending since 1630) — handed over a carton-box-full of xerographed documents submitted by the CBCJ Historical Committee in 1975 — to support the “Cause of Beatification” of Takayama. Could De Pedro undertake to translate the documents into English within two years? (The CBCJ had submitted the documents in 1975 – and all the while that Catholics in Japan were fervently praying for the beatification of Takayama for 11 years, these papers were actually “dormant” at the Jesuit Postulator’s office – as the German, Portuguese and Japanese text that some chapters were written in were not considered official Vatican languages. The papers could not be studied – unless all text was in an official Vatican language – like Italian, English, Latin or Spanish.)
De Pedro accepted the pro-bono assignment. When he completed the one-volume ‘Positio’ — “JustusTakayama Ukon, Servus Dei” (1994, 648p) — the Jesuit Postulator General, Fr. Paulo Molinari, acknowledged: “Thanks to your much appreciated collaboration, all the essential materials for this important ‘Cause’ are by now available.”
De Pedro and the supportive “Prayer Warriors of Blessed Takayama” have promoted the “Cause of Takayama” ever since.
Spreading the Word
►To spread info about Blessed Takayama, we run the website: https://www.takayamaukon.com/ – As this is the only Takayama website in English – it is the ‘de facto’ aggregator of Takayama info.