Journeying with Lord Takayama

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

My ‘accidental’ involvement in the research on the life and times of Lord Justus Ukon Takayama (1552-1615) started in 1986 when four Japanese Protestant ministers from Kanazawa City (led by Rev. Minoru Yamagata) visited me looking for archival documents about the end-days of Lord Takayama in Manila. I was then the Director-General of the National Film Archives of the Philippines (1981-1989). The ministers had mistakenly thought I had access to the paper archives of the Philippines. I sent them off to the National Archives.

After a week of researching, they dropped by my office again, complaining they had found nothing. I told them the logical place to research was the Vatican Archives where the documents about Takayama were being kept. They suggested that if I had the time to undertake the research, they would support me wherever I needed to go.

That was in 1986, when the People Power Revolution overthrew the Marcos Administration. Because of the large quantity of film holdings stored in the Film Archives, I had to stay in office till January 1989, when President Corazon Aquino offered an Early Retirement Incentive Program (ERIP).

Preliminary Research in Manila

WHEN I FINALLY SURVEYED Manila resources for materials about the life and times of Ukon Takayama, I discovered:



Emma Helen Blair & James Alexander Robertson, Philippine Islands, 1493-1803– 55 vols. 1900. There is no mention of “Justus Ukon Takayama.” But there is mention of “Justo Ucondono” [“Ukon” is an honorific title and “dono” is the general term for “Lord”]: “A number of Japanese, comprising influential men and women who were exiled from their country for their faith, have gathered in this village [Dilao] since the year ’15. Among them, illustrious gentlemen Don Justo Ucondono [Takayama] and Don Juan Tocuan [Naito], with some influential women, have died with the lapse of time.” (Vol. 28, p. 65).



Labor Evangelica, ministerios apostolicos de los obreros de la Compañia de Iesvs, fvndacion, y progressos de su provincia en las islas Filipinas by Colín, Francisco (1592-1660); Chirino, Pedro (1557-1635); and Pastells, Pablo (1846-1932), eds. Barcelona: 1900. In the Archives of the Philippine Province of the Society of Jesus at Ateneo de Manila University.

This comprehensive history of the evangelization of the Philippines, copiously annotated by Fr. Pastells, devotes five chapters (pp. 434-562) to the Japanese Christians exiled to Manila in 1614, particularly the sagas of the families of Lord Justus Ukon Takayama and Lord Juan Tocuan Naito and other Christian exiles.

  • BOOK IV – Chapter XXVIII (pp. 434-493) – Relation of the life, deeds and virtues of the Confessor of Christ, Justus Takayama.
  • XXIX (pp. 494-499) – Life of Don Juan Tocuan Nayto [Naito].
  • XXX (pp. 500-507) – About the congregation of Japanese women exiled to Manila with Lord Takayama: Doña Maria Iga; Doña Maria Paccu [Park], a Korean noblewoman; Doña Maria Muni, and Doña Mencia.
  • XXXI (pp. 507-547) – About the Confessor of Christ, Doña Lucia de la Cruz, and
  • XXXII (pp. 547-562) – About Doña Tecla Ignacia, illustrious Confessor of Christ.



In 1983, I attended a British Council course on Archive Administration at Oxford where I was told that holdings of the Bodleian Library were being digitized. I now inquired from the Keeper of Western Manuscripts if he had anything about Justus Takayama – who had served under the three Japanese hegemons: Oda Nobunaga, Hideyoshi Toyotomi and Ieyasu Tokugawa. I was lucky: the Library had a copy of [P. Pedro Morejon, SJ], ‘A briefe relation of the Persecution lately made against the Catholike Christians, in the Kingdome of Iaponia… Taken out of the Annuall Letters of the Fathers of the Society of Jesus,’ St. Omer, France: 1619, translated from the Spanish ‘by W. W. [William Wright, SJ, 1563-1639], Gent.’

This was a biography of Ukon Takayama written in Spanish by Ukon’s Spanish father-confessor, Fr. Pedro Morejon, SJ, and first published in Barcelona, then translated into English by Fr. William Wright, SJ. This was then published by the underground Jesuit press in St. Omer, France – as the Jesuits were then banned in England.

All these — within four years of Takayama’s death in Manila!



London: DK Publishing, Inc. 1175pp. –The entry for 1614 reads: “A total of 148 Japanese Christians, including Christian daimyo (feudal lord) Takayama Ukon, are banished overseas, to Manila or Macao. This action is taken mainly with the military in mind, for it is feared that Christianity will interfere with their loyalty to their overlords.” (p. 576)



Gregorio F. Zaide (1907-1988), Takayama Ukon: Christian Japanese Daimyo.(Manila: Social Studies Publications, 1979). Monograph commissioned by Hiroshi Yamamori.

Zaide’s work consists of three parts: (1) Takayama Ukon, Christian Japanese Daimyo; (2) Two Japanese Towns in Manila, and (3) Japanese Population in the Philippines During Spanish Times. Zaide’s typescript was privately printed by Yamamori in Japan. The first part is evidently based on a brief biography of Takayama by Fr. Johann Laures (1891-1959). The second and third parts are clearly based on Prof. Sei-chi Iwao (1900-1988), Nanyo Nihon-machi no Kenkyu (Tokyo: 1966).


Yes! There Was A Historical Takayama

These materials established that there was indeed a historical Justus Takayama (1552-1615) who, as the leader of an exile band of 148 Christians who refused to abjure their Catholic religion, was royally received by the Spanish Governor-General of the Philippines upon his ship’s arrival in Manila on December 21, 1614. But he died in Intramuros on February 3, 1615 of “a tropical ailment,” surrounded by his family.

Takayama’s life was well-documented. Five chapters of the Jesuits’ account of the Christian evangelization of the Philippines were devoted to Lords Takayama and Naito, and the first religious congregation of Japanese women to arrive in the Philippines.

As Takayama had died (or, in church reckoning, was “born to heaven”) in Manila, the Archdiocese of Manila proposed him for sainthood in 1630, in recognition of his heroic virtues. Thus, by accident, the first Catholic ever proposed for sainthood by the Archdiocese of Manila was a Japanese Christian. The petition for the canonization of Takayama was presented to the Vatican by the Archbishop of Manila on October 5, 1630 — only 15 years after Takayama’s death.

NOTE: In the Catholic Church, there are two types of Saints: “Confessors” and “Martyrs.” “Confessors” are those who live their whole lives in heroic virtue. (Therefore, their entire lives are examined by the Congregation for the Causes of Saints.) “Martyrs” are those who choose to suffer or die rather than give up their faith.


To Complete Research

While it was now possible to produce a comprehensive biography based on Colin/Pastells and Morejon alone, it was important to pursue two other essential leads:

  • IN TOKYO – Find out what the Historical Committee, organized by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Japan (CBCJ) had produced since 1963.
  • AT THE VATICAN – Find out whether the Manila Archdiocesan petition of 1630 – and other associated materials — still existed.

In Tokyo

At Sophia University, the Tokyo university run by the Jesuits, the editors at Monumenta Nipponica pointed to Fr. Hubert Cieslik, SJ (1914-1988) as the historian leading the efforts to document the life of Takayama, from the year of his birth (1552) till his death in Manila in 1615. Fr. Cieslik specialized in early Japanese mission history and wrote his works in German, English and Japanese.

When I visited Fr. Cieslik in Tokyo, he was being treated at St. Paul’s Hospital for “a rare form of cancer.” Fr. Cieslik had been one of eight German Jesuits who had survived the dropping of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima on August 6, 1945. They were at the rectory of the Church of Our Lady of the Assumption when they heard the sirens warning of the approach of a hostile bomber. Then they heard an ominous explosion and felt the concussion that blew the doors and windows of the rectory. Led by their Father Superior, Fr. Pedro Arrupe, SJ (1907-1991), the Jesuits ventured out to see Hiroshima had turned into a “lake of fire.” Knowing nothing about the dangers of atomic radiation, the Jesuits brought into their damaged rectory some 150 of the wounded and dying, under the direction of Arrupe, who had some medical training. Whereas thousands of people had immediately vaporized in an instant, Fr. Arrupe and the German Fathers continued to live without serious ailments for over four decades after the Bomb.

According to Fr. Cieslik, every year of the life of Takayama was well documented by Jesuit missionaries: P. G. Vilela, SJ; P. Luis Frois, SJ (1530-1597); P. Organtino Gnecchi-Soldo, SJ (1530-1609); P. G. Coelho, SJ; P. G. de Cespedes, SJ; P. A. Prenestino, SJ; P. G. Fornaleti, SJ; P. Joao Rodriguez Giram, SJ (1558-1633?); P. M. de Couros, SJ; P. Pedro Morejon, SJ (1562-1634?), and P. G. Matos, SJ. Some years were covered by as many as SIX Jesuit writers.

I presented Fr. Cieslik with a copy of Morejon’s ‘A briefe relation…’ (1619). He gave me a copy of one typewritten chapter of his draft and indicated that he had already submitted the full documents on Takayama — 30 chapters! — to the Jesuit Postulator General in Rome.

At the Vatican

Many Japanese friends in Manila, most of them non-Catholic, encouraged research at the Vatican to check into the status of Takayama. My airfare to Rome was provided by Mr. Atsushi Wakamatsu, Manila branch manager of a Tokyo newspaper. (Later, he also bought for me an optical scanner to digitize typewritten documents.) My accommodations at the Pontificio Collegio Filippino in Rome were arranged by Msgr. Josefino Ramirez, of the Archdiocese of Manila – so I had no problems no matter how long the Vatican research would have taken.

My goal was two-fold:

  • Find out whether the Manila Archdiocesan petition of 1630 still existed.
    (ANSWER: The documents of the Takayama process did not exist anymore, but a copy of the Spanish original and a copy of the official Italian translation were in the Archives of the Jesuit Postulator.)
  • Find out HOW MUCH of the CBCJ Historical Committee’s studies could be SHARED with me, a lay researcher, by the Jesuit Postulator.

The Director of the Vatican Archives wanted to know if I was a philologist — otherwise research would be fruitless. I did not know then what philology meant but I guessed it was about competence in various languages. I remonstrated that any documents about Takayama in 1630 would have been written in Spanish (which was a required subject in Philippine colleges) or Latin (which I studied at the seminary, managing to translate Julius Caesar’s De Bello Gallico). The Jesuit Postulator General, Fr. Paolo Molinari, SJ – who was in charge of the Takayama ‘Cause’ since 1963 — heard the name Takayama and asked me what my interest was. I explained my limited historical interest: a search for the historical Takayama – NOT the proposed saint.

He invited me to visit him the next day at the Jesuit Curia. After interviewing me at length, he and his associate postulator, Fr. Peter Gumpel, SJ, handed me a cardboard-box full of xerographed documents about Justus Ukon Takayama, with the request to have these translated within two years.

Fr. Cieslik, being German, had written all his text in German. At the Vatican, documents in European languages such as Latin, Italian, Spanish, French, and English need no translation, as these are all official Vatican languages. But German, Portuguese and Japanese are not – so these had to be translated to English. Fr. Molinari explained that until the documents were translated into a language recognized by the Vatican, they could not be studied by the Congregation for the Causes of Saints. As the Jesuit Postulator’s office was understaffed, there was no one who could undertake the translations. Unless I helped, another 20 years could pass before the ‘Cause’ of Takayama could be pursued.

By a happy accident, the entire Takayama documents were being entrusted to me by the Jesuit Postulator General for translation.


Pro-Bono Assignment

Now, here I was, committing to undertake a pro-bono assignment to advance the ‘Cause’ of Takayama — not for (1) the Archdiocese of Manila (the proponent from 1630-1963) or (2) the Archdiocese of Osaka (which was now the promoter) — but for (3) the Jesuit Postulator General in charge of Takayama’s ‘Cause’. Fr. Molinari invited me to join the commission of Vatican historians who would eventually study the ‘Cause’ – after I had edited and submitted my draft. But as I had graduated with a B.S. in Business Administration (major in Management), not History, I felt compelled, at age 49, to obtain a PhD in History at the Graduate School of the University of Santo Tomas (UST) – where I later taught.

My M.A. thesis was “Lord Takayama: A Bibliography on Philippine-Japanese Relations in the 16th and 17th Centuries” (1990). 640p. This enabled me to compile published materials about Takayama, when Internet was not so widespread yet. My Ph.D. dissertation was “The ‘Catholic Unit’ of the Imperial Japanese Army, 1942: Its Futile Courtship of the Catholic Church” (1996). 408p. Magna cum Laude. This paper traced the uses of Lord Takayama in the wartime propaganda of the Imperial Japanese Army.


Getting the Translation Done

I returned to Manila with the cardboard-box of documents, organized a translation team of missionaries to translate the German (Fr. Leo MUEHL, SVD); Portuguese (Sister Irene AMATTOS, RMI, with additional translation by Fr. Manuel Augusto LOPES Ferrera, editor of World Mission), and the Japanese text (Fr. Albert Toru NISHIMOTO, CSsR), chaplain of Japanese Catholics in the Archdiocese of Manila.

The Spanish text, which needed no translation, was edited by Fr. Jose S. ARCILLA, SJ, archivist of the Philippine Province of the Society of Jesus, at the Ateneo de Manila University).

The Latin text of the Breve of Pope Sixtus V (r. 1585-Aug. 27, 1590), dated April 24, 1590 – exhorting Takayama to hold fast to his faith — when Ukon Takayama was already in domestic exile in Kanazawa — did not have to be translated, but it was tweaked, here and there, by Fr. Muehl, who was a Latin professor at Christ the King Mission Seminary.


Tracing the Footsteps of Takayama in Japan

While the team of translators were working in Manila, my wife, Adelaida Montealegre de Pedro, and I travelled to Japan to visit the places associated with Takayama – Takatsuki (Takayama’s old fief), Ibaraki, Kanazawa, Noto Peninsula, Nagasaki, Akashi (Ukon’s later fief), and Osaka. In several instances, when the local community found out what our visit was all about, I’d find our hotel expenses had already been paid for.

Dr. Ernesto De Pedro at the burial site of Lord Takayama Ukon's finger.In Kanazawa (where Ukon Takayama had stayed for 26 years in the service of Lord Maeda), I visited a descendant of Takayama, who mentioned that it was the family tradition for the eldest son to care for a site where a finger of Takayama had been buried. We went to a nearby forested area where there was a concrete cross marking the spot where the finger had been buried [Photo taken on Aug. 28 1988 at the site Lord Takayama Ukon’s finger was buried.].


There were also local accounts that Takayama had been one of the pall-bearers when Lord Toshiie Maeda (d. April 27, 1591) was carried to his grave in Kanazawa’s old 175m-high hilltop cemetery, Nodayama. The 43 hectare cemetery (with one hectare apportioned to the Maedas) was still there, with a fresh flower-offering in a ceramic vase at the grave in the early morning we visited. (What devotee would still remember an ancestor – with a fresh flower! — after four centuries?) And the stone steps to the grave – all 200 (?) of them! – were still there, the same stone steps the pall-bearers had climbed.

Rev. Minoru Yamagata guided me through Kanazawa and the Noto Peninsula. Mr. Ryohei Fujimoto, a devout Catholic from Kyoto, and an ardent contributor to Fr. Toru Nishimoto’s Manila scholarship programs, drove me through Kyoto, Takatsuki and Osaka. Fr. Diego Pacheco, SJ (1922-2008), director of the Twenty-Six Martyrs Museum in Nagasaki, brought me to the historical places he had shown to the British historian, C. R. Boxer (1904-2000), in Nagasaki, during research for his book, The Christian Century in Japan (1951). From a hilltop, Fr. Pacheco pointed to two islands in Nagasaki Bay – Dos Caballos [“Two Horses”] — which hid from view any sailing ship, enabling passengers to scramble down to waiting skiffs. This is how some Japanese in Takayama’s exile ship escaped their deportation to Manila.


Impressive Japanese Cooperation

I was impressed with the alacrity with which the Japanese responded to my appeal for help in my research.



I expressed an interest in the portrait of Takayama that was part of a mosaic on the nave of the church at the Santa Cueva in Manresa, Spain – which was first published in black & white in the Tribune in Manila in September 1942.

Takayama Ukon mosain in Santa Cueva, Manresa, Spain
Mosaic in Santa Cueva, Manresa, Spain.

This mosaic depicted six Catholic noblemen who were all products of the Jesuits’ famed “Spiritual Exercises,” namely: the Bourbon king of France, Louis XIII, holding the book Exercitia Spiritualia; Don Alvaro de Cordoba, a Spanish grandee whose public life was much influenced by the Jesuit manual; the Hapsburg prince, Don Juan de Austria (1545-1578) — half-brother of Philip II, king of Spain — familiar to Filipinos as the victor of the Battle of Lepanto (1571); Lord Justus Takayama (identified in the mosaic as “Justo Ucandono”); Marques de Villapuente, renowned in Mexico, Africa and Europe for his charities; and Don Lupercio de Arbizu, the Aragon nobleman who was persuaded by the Jesuits to build Manresa into a city.

Mr. Teiji Motoki, of the Mokunoki Group in Takatsuki City, made a quick trip to Barcelona to photograph the mosaic and presented the photographs to me in Manila. And he was not even a Catholic!



From a music researcher at the British Library, I learned there was a chorus in honor of Takayama composed by the Austrian composer Johann Michael Haydn (1737-1806), younger brother of the more famous composer, Joseph Haydn (1732-1809) who was the most celebrated composer in Europe. The younger Haydn composed a chorus honoring Takayama. “It features a composite of Takayama and Titus,” Fr. Thomas Imoos, SMB (1918-2001) notes. Researchers in Takatsuki tracked this down in Salzburg, studied the music, and had a choir sing it the next time I attended a symposium in Takatsuki.


Spreading The Word About Takayama Across The Years

From 1630, there were sporadic activities promoting the remembrance of Lord Justus Ukon Takayama outside Japan.



The Jesuits used theater to spread Catholic themes. Among the popular subjects was the mission history of Japan – which was manned by missionaries from Europe. Jesuit drama invariably focused on Ukon Takayama. Even an incomplete survey of the plays about Takayama shows how his fame spread throughout Europe, and played a role in the development of European drama. Based on the research of Fr. John Baptist Muller, SJ (“The Jesuit Drama,” Augsburg, 1930), and Fr. Thomas Imoos, SMB (professor of German Literature at Sophia University), the Takayama plays were presented in the following years: 1663 – Munich (Germany); 1666 – Vienna (Austria); 1673 – Landshut; 1682 – Lucerne (Switzerland); 1689 – Winnocx (Belgium); 1691 – Kortryjk; 1698 – Sint Winchsbergen; 1698 – Kortryjk; 1724 – Ellwangen; and 1742 – Solothurn.



Researching at the Vatican Archives, Fr. (later, Saint) Alphonsus Maria de’ Ligouri, CSsR (1696-1787) — “patron saint of journalists” – studied the Takayama papers and concluded that, despite dying in bed surrounded by family, Takayama was truly a martyr — in Victories of the Martyrs (1775, 1887, 1954).



The 33rd International Eucharistic Congress in Manila in February 3-7, 1937 furnished the first occasion for Japanese Catholics to venture outside of Japan and assert their place in the Christian world — after centuries of separation. The last time some Japanese Catholics had been on the world stage was in 1585, when a delegation of Four Seminarians [“The Tensho Embassy”] was sent to the Vatican to see Pope Gregory XIII (r. 1572-1585), and his successor, Pope Sixtus V (r. 1585-1590).

Under the Japanese banner marched the prelates and delegates from the Empire of Japan — and its colonial territories in 1937 — Korea, Manchuria, the Marianas, and Taiwan. Fr. Paul Yoshigoro Taguchi, director general of the Catholic Press Center in Tokyo since its establishment in 1931, was co-leader of the Japanese delegation, along with Tokyo Archbishop Jean-Baptiste Alexis Chambon (1875-1948). (In this instance, the Japanese would not allow a non-Japanese to head an official delegation of the Catholic Church of Japan.) With the Congress commencing on February 3 — Takayama’s 322nd death anniversary — the International Eucharistic Congress began with prayers for Ukon Takayama.

Fr. Taguchi extolled Takayama as a marvelous example of a Christian steeped in constant prayer, penance, good deeds and a deep love of God and mankind throughout his lifetime. The Japanese presented that Takayama lived all the Christian values to a heroic degree. They wanted to establish him as a contemporary model of holiness and a worthy intercessor before God. He demonstrated that Catholic men and women, free in all secular affairs, can seek union with God through their work and family life.

The Japanese delegation petitioned the Congress to promote the beatification of Takayama. The Eucharistic Congress passed a resolution endorsing the beatification. The Congress also endorsed a proposal to erect a memorial to Takayama in Manila — as a first step to popularize Takayama’s ‘Cause.’


Memorial Prayers from Manila’s Hierarchy

Since 1937, the Archbishops of Manila have continually remembered the “causa anciens” of Justus Ukon Takayama.

Archbishop Michael O’Doherty (r. 1916-1949) was impressed with the fervor of the Japanese Catholic delegation for Takayama’s ‘Cause’ during the 33rd International Eucharistic Congress in February 1937. The Irish archbishop also prayed for Takayama’s beatification during the Takayama Commemorative Mass at San Marcelino Church in September 1942.

Archbishop Gabriel M. Reyes (r. 1949-1952) – There is no information that Takayama was remembered at all during Reyes’ stewardship.

Cardinal Rufino J. Santos (r. 1953-1973) made possible the revival of Takayama’s ‘Cause’ by seconding the promotion of Takayama’s Cause to the Japanese Church in April 1963.

Cardinal Jaime L. Sin (r. 1974-2003) accepted a Takayama statue sculpted by a convicted Japanese war prisoner, presented through Mrs. Vicky Quirino-Delgado, whose father, President Elpidio Quirino (r. 1948-1953) granted executive clemency in July 1953 to 437 prisoners (including more than 100 Japanese war criminals who were allowed to return to Japan in December 1953) – despite the massacre of his wife, Alicia, and three of their children in 1945 by laughing Japanese troops.

Cardinal Sin also celebrated the Takayama Commemorative Mass at UST in February 1993 and delivered a homily for Takayama’s beatification.

Cardinal Gaudencio B. Rosales (r. 2003-2011) celebrated a Takayama Commemorative Mass at the Manila Cathedral in February 2011. When he retired from Manila, he was visited by Japanese Bishops to celebrate another Takayama Commemorative Mass.

Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle (r. 2011- ) celebrated a Commemorative Mass in Kobe, Japan to mark the 400th death anniversary of Takayama on February 3, 2015. In his homily, Cardinal Tagle said the Philippines, especially Manila, and Japan are linked through the “bridge of faith and martyrdom.” Ukon Takayama, Japan’s most illustrious Christian, died in Manila, while San Lorenzo Ruiz, a Filipino, was martyred in Nagasaki. “Martyrdom is the deepest link between our two churches.”  

At 12N, Tuesday, February 7, 2017, Cardinal Tagle will concelebrate the Mass during the Beatification Ceremonies at the Osaka-jō Hall, Kyōbashi, Osaka (Japan), which will be presided by Cardinal Angelo Amato, SDB, Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, on Pope Francis’s behalf.


In the Hands of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints

When the Jesuit Postulator General presented the printed ‘Positio’ to the Congregation for the Causes of Saints in 1994, it was the first time for the Takayama papers to reach that body – 364 years after the Archdiocese of Manila proposed that Takayama be considered for the sainthood.

Bishop Francis Xavier Osamu Mizobe, SDB (1935-2016) of Takamatsu Diocese, who was then chair of the CBCJ Commission on the Promotion of Saints, and Fr. Albert Fuyuki Hirabayashi, SJ, secretary of the Commission, visited the UST Graduate School to thank me for my work.



The Congregation for the Causes of Saints granted a Nihil Obstat on June 8, 1994. Justus Ukon Takayama now earned the title “Servant of God” – the first step towards Canonization.


When a beatification ceremony for 188 Japanese martyrs was scheduled in Nagasaki on November 24, 2008, the Japanese Bishops thought of including Takayama in the roster of Martyrs — to hasten the process.

However, the Vatican did not, at that time, recognize Takayama as a Martyr. But with the evolution of the theology of martyrdom, the Vatican’s Congregation for the Causes of Saints indicated a willingness to accept Takayama as a Martyr. During a plenary assembly in Tokyo on February 15-19, 2010, the Bishops’ Conference decided to reinitiate the process for the beatification of Ukon Takayama – no longer as a Confessor – but as a Martyr.

It was now Bishop Mizobe’s job to pursue the ‘Cause’ of Takayama as a Martyr. If Takayama is accepted as a martyr, he will not need a miracle before being beatified.

The Search for the Bones of Takayama Ukon, June 13, 2012, at the Jesuit Cemetery at the Sacred Heart Novitiate, Novalichez, Quezon City. Bishop Francis Xavier Osamu Mizobe, SDB (1935-2016)
Bishop Francis Xavier Osamu Mizobe, SDB (1935-2016) with Dr. Ernesto De Pedro during the Search for the Bones of Blessed Takayama.


But Fr. Molinari and Fr. Gumpel, the original Postulators, were withdrawn from the ‘Cause’ of Takayama in 2010 so they could concentrate on the beatification of this century’s Popes (Pope John XIII and Pope John Paul II). The Takayama ‘Cause’ was reassigned to another Postulator, Fr. Daniel Ols, then later to the new Jesuit Postulator General, Fr. Anton Witwer.


A new Takayama ‘Positio’ — as a Martyr — had to be prepared. Fr. Anton Witwer, SJ, submitted the revised version – Positio Super Martirio: Beatificationis Seu Declarationis Martyrii Servi Dei Iusti Takayama Ukon Viri Laici in Odium Fidei, Uti Fertur, Interfecti (Rome: 2015 – 640p+) — that emphasized Takayama’s attributes as a Martyr, with much new material written by Bishop Francis Xavier Osamu Mizobe, SDB.

Fr. Anton Witwer, SJ, who prepared the revised Positio for Tayakayama with Dr. Ernesto De Pedro.
Fr. Anton Witwer, SJ, who prepared the revised Positio for Blessed Justo Takayama Ukon. Here with Dr. Ernesto De Pedro after the Thanksgiving Mass at the Osaka Cathedral, the day after the Beatification.


Bishop Mizobe (whom I met while teaching at the UST Graduate School) notes in the Witwer ‘Positio’ (2015): “One reason why the process for Ukon was going so very slowly is that many of the documents were written in German — [i.e., the mother language of Fr. Hubert Cieslik, SJ]. This delayed the initiation of the investigation. The officials had decided that all of these German documents have to be translated into English, and it has taken quite a long time to find a suitable translator. Dr. [Ernesto] de Pedro, professor of Santo Tomas University [UST] in Manila, agreed to undertake the task of translation. He finished his work in 1994, so from that time on the Congregation could move to the stage.” (p. 10)

[This might give the wrong impression that I am competent in German; I am not. I cannot translate even a single German sentence. As I have acknowledged: Fr. Leo Muehl, a retired SVD missionary from Upper Silesia, translated all the German text.] When I undertook the translation assignment pro bono, I was not teaching or even enrolled at UST yet. But I was already decided on taking up a postgraduate course in History to learn the basics of historical research. At UST, Fr. Fidel Villaroel, OP (1929-2016), University Archivist, whose historical spadework led to the canonization of the Philippines’ first saint, San Lorenzo Ruiz de Manila (c1600-1637) in 1987, showed me what a printed “Positio” looked like.



But Fr. Hirabayashi confirms that “Ukon was not declared as Venerable.” Which means that after “Servant of God,” Takayama bypassed the “Venerable” step and is being directly accelerated to “Blessed.”


Establishing a Supporting Foundation In Manila     


With lecture fees earned from speaking events organized by Mr. Hirohisa Umeda in Takatsuki City, and the fees earned by Fr. Hubert Cieslik, SJ, which he preferred to pass on to me, I established the Lord Takayama Jubilee Foundation (9/29/88) to fund expenses, including a reserve fund for someone else to continue my work should anything befall me before I completed the job. Our biggest donation came from Tokyo’s Cardinal Peter Seiichi Shirayanagi (1928-2009), whom I met at the sidelines of Pope John Paul II’s Papal Visit to UST in mid-January 1995. I did not know then that he was in charge of the Takayama process, but he was the highest-ranking Japanese prelate at the Papal Visit. I gave him a copy of the ‘Positio’ – the first copy ever presented to a representative of the Church of Japan!

When I invited him to celebrate the annual Takayama Memorial Mass two weeks later, he returned to Manila with a donation for the Foundation. While sharing the post-Mass repast prepared by UST hospitality students, the Cardinal assured me that wherever the Beatification or Canonization ceremonies will be held – whether at the Vatican, Osaka or Manila – I and my wife would be his guests.



To insure that our movement had roots, I established at the University of Santo Tomas a professorial chair – Lord Justus Takayama Professorial Chair in Philippine-Japanese Studies (2/4/89). My hope, of course, was that, with his extra income of P30,000 per annual lecture, the anointed UST professor could keep an eye on Takayama as we waited for developments from the Vatican. (The Chair has P454,313.51 as of the end of 2014. Plus interest and supplemental contributions from friends, the fund should continue “in perpetuity.”) The first Takayama Lecture was delivered by Dr. Florentino H. Hornedo (1938-2015) in 1989. Twenty-six years later, Dr. Hornedo was again invited to deliver the Takayama Lecture in 2015.



To gauge the range of academic scholarship available about Takayama worldwide, the UST Graduate School hosted TWO international symposia on Takayama – the first in 1990, and the second, in 1995 — featuring historians from Japan, Italy, the U.S. and the Philippines. The Jesuits sent Fr. Domenico Vitale, SJ (now Rector of the Hiroshima Cathedral). Mr. Teiji Motoki, from Takatsuki City, who had been a soldier assigned to the De La Salle area during World War II, brought photographs of a Takayama memorial signpost planted in Intramuros in 1942. The United Methodist Assembly in Pasadena, California sent Rev. Gary Barbaree to find out how Takayama blended Christian ethics and the Japanese point of view. Understanding this would help the Methodists in their evangelization efforts among the Japanese in the United States.

Ukon Takayama was recognized as “the epitome of the Japanese spirit” — according to Cardinal Paul Yoshigoro Taguchi. The Japanese historian, Anesaki Masaharu summed up the significance of Takayama: “The stories of Justo Ukon Takayama’s life illustrate a happy union of the valor of a Japanese warrior and the fidelity of an ardent Catholic. His brilliant military achievements, his moral integrity and deliberateness in critical moments, his dauntless spirit combined with meek soul, his earnest zeal and piety expressed in his generosity and charity — all these should be noted as a fruit of Kirishitan [Christian] missions.”



For Japanese pilgrims visiting Manila, I developed “A Walking Tour of Takayama’s Manila” – which begins with the landing of the Japanese exiles at the Governor’s (later named Postigo) Gate; the Palacio del Gobernador, where military honors were rendered by Spanish troops; a Te Deum at the Manila Cathedral (which had been rededicated only days earlier); the site of the demolished Santa Ana Church, now the site of Pamantasan ng Maynila [City University of Manila]; the UST Chapel (site of the annual Takayama Memorial Mass); the Aquinas Research Center (also at UST), at whose entrance a Takayama statue stands; the Paco Church (which served the original Dilao community); the Takayama Memorial at the Philippines-Japan Friendship Park at Plaza Dilao; a visit to a statue of the Our Lady of the Holy Rosary (“La Japona”) which was brought to Manila by Takayama and is now enshrined at the Santo Domingo Church in Quezon City; and a side trip to Takayama’s putative gravesite at the Jesuit cemetery at the Sacred Heart Novitiate in Novaliches, Quezon City, where the remains of Jesuit niches (including presumably the bones of Lord Takayama and Lord Naito) at the bombed-out San Ignacio (II) Church in Intramuros were transferred in December 1945. (After bringing back to Japan a number of bones from the two putative crypts, Kyoto Bishop Paul Yoshinao Otsuka (b. 1954- ), Chairman of the CBCJ Committee for the Promotion of Saints, concluded they could not make a determination – if indeed Takayama’s bones were among the remains in the crypts.)

To Japanese pilgrims making this tour, I presented bronze medallions with the legend: “IN THE FOOTSTEPS OF / JUSTUS UKON TAKAYAMA.”



Beginning February 3, 1989, the Lord Takayama Jubilee Foundation has sponsored Commemorative Masses for Justus Ukon Takayama, with the Papal Nuncio, Msgr. Bruno Torpigliani as the celebrant at San Agustin Church, Manila. The next year, 1990 – the 375th death anniversary — it was again Msgr. Torpigliani who was the main celebrant, assisted by missionaries representing the Jesuit, Franciscan, Augustinian and Dominican Orders who were all pioneers in Japan during Takayama’s time.

Since then, the Commemorative Masses have been celebrated at the UST chapel every year, with Cardinals (Manila Archbishop Jaime Sin and Tokyo Archbishop Peter Seiichi Shirayanagi), Papal Nuncio Gian Vincenzo Moreni (1994), and various missionaries as celebrants.



When the De Mesa Sisters were planning a Japanese restaurant in Makati in the 1980s, Prof. Mutsuhiko Miki, chairman of the Philippines-Japan Cultural Institute (PJCI), suggested the name “Takayama Garden Restaurant.” For their third branch at Greenhills, in San Juan City, they commissioned Arts & Letters students of the University of Santo Tomas to sculpt a statue of Lord Takayama to serve as its centerpiece. When the branch was relocated in 1995, Miki prevailed on the owners to give the Takayama statue a permanent home in UST, site of Takayama memorial celebrations. The statue now stands at the entrance of the Thomas Aquinas Research Center, home of the UST Graduate School.

Takayama Statue in front of the Thomas Aquinas Research Center at the UST Graduate School, Manila
Takayama Ukon Statue at the UST Graduate School


The Final Journey to Canonization

In the final journey to canonization, we are counting on the same Catholic and Protestant devotees throughout Japan – as well as the faithful UST community in Manila — to pray fervently for Takayama’s ultimate recognition.

3 thoughts on “Journeying with Lord Takayama

  1. Greetings in Christ!
    I am Ronel C. Guinto. I made this mail to request for information on the life and holiness of Blessed Iustus Takayama Ukon. Also, whenever possible, I would also request for materials or relics which I may use to start a devotion to him, and which I may share with others.
    Thank you very much in advance for your kind and favorable response. Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.
    Sincerely yours,
    Ronel C. Guinto.
    Purok 5 San Juan Baño Arayat 2012 Pampanga


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