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  • » 08/20/2013, 00.00

    JAPAN - VATICAN

    The Japanese Church ready to celebrate Takayama Ukon, "samurai of Christ"



    The Bishops' Conference of Japan sent to Rome the documents needed to open the cause of beatification of the feudal lord who challenged the empire by keeping his faith. His example and teachings paved the way for the evangelisation of Japan. "He led a life appropriate to a saint."

    Osaka (AsiaNews) - The Japanese Church has finished preparing the application for the beatification of Takayama Ukon, a feudal lord or daimyo who, after his conversion, played a pioneering role in the spread of Christianity in Japan in the 16th century.

    The Catholic Bishops' Conference of Japan presented a 400-page application to the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, with all the relevant information about the case. The bishops hope to celebrate the new Blessed in 2015, the 400th anniversary of his death.

    Takayama Ukon was born in 1552 in what is now Osaka Prefecture to Takayama Tomoteru, lord of Sawa Castle. When he turned 12, his father converted taking the name of Darius whilst he was baptised with the name of Justo.

    Both father and son were daimyo, feudal lords appointed by the imperial court, entitled to raise a private army and hire samurai.

    Before his conversion, Justo practiced bushido, the "way of the warrior," a code of conduct for the Japanese warriors.

    Towards the end of the 16th century, in the 1580s, Japan was ruled by Toyotomi Hideyoshi, known as the country's second "great unifier".

    Through their political activity, the Takayamas come to dominate the Takatsuki region. During the rule of the two daimyo, many local residents converted to Christianity.

    In 1587, Hideyoshi was convinced by some of his advisers to ban the 'western religion'. Whilst many feudal lords chose to abjure their Catholic faith, Justo and his father chose instead to give up land and honours to maintain their faith.

    During subsequent years, Justo Takayama lived under the protection of aristocratic friends. However, when Christianity was definitely banned in 1614, the former daimyo chose the path of exile and led a group of 300 Christians to the Philippines, welcomed by Spanish Jesuits and the local Catholics, when they arrived on 21 December.

    Here some exiles proposed to seek Spanish support to overthrow the Japanese government, but Justo refused Right.

    On 4 February 1615, 40 days after his arrival in the Philippines, he died and was buried with full military honours in a Catholic ceremony. Today a statue of him dominates Manila's Plaza Dilao (pictured).

    The current application is not the first time the Japanese Church has tried to get him beatified. The first attempt was made in the 17th century by the clergy of Manila. Unfortunately, due to the isolationist policy of the Tokugawa shogunate, which prevented foreigners from entering Japan, it was impossible to get the necessary documents for a canonical investigation. A second attempt was made in 1965, but failed because of several formal errors.

    "The application was not accepted because no one knew how to put it together nor how to best publicise his case," said Fr Hiroaki Kawamura, head of the Diocesan Commission that sent the papers to Rome. Learning their lessons, this time church officials have been much better prepared.

    Last October Mgr Leo Jun Ikenaga, archbishop of Osaka and president of the Bishops' Conference of Japan, sent a letter to Pope Benedict XVI asking for approval of the cause. The Vatican answered, saying that it would take the cause "into special consideration."

    It would do so because the daimyo would be the first individual Japanese to receive such a high honour. There are 42 saints with some connection to Japan as well as 393 blessed. All of them were martyred together during the Edo Period (1603-1867) and are celebrated as groups.

    "Takayama was never misled by what those around him. He persistently lived a life following his own conscience," Fr Kawamura said. "He led a life appropriate to a saint and continues to encourage many people even today."

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    See also

    09/02/2017 15:03:00 JAPAN – VATICAN
    Fr Mario Bianchin: Justo Takayama Ukon, a model of imitable holiness

    The "holy Samurai" was beatified on Tuesday. Out of the age of Japanese martyrs, "Takayama Ukon [. . .] presents the model of the testimony of life in Christ (martyrdom in fact), to which every believer in Christ is called.” The PIME regional superior in Japan gives his thoughts about the new Blessed.



    07/02/2017 14:46:00 JAPAN - VATICAN
    Justo Takayama Ukon, "Samurai of Christ", beatified

    For Card Angelo Amato, prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, the Blessed leaves an “extraordinary witness of the Christian faith".  Catholics rejoice for the Blessed, a 17th century martyr. The Gospel is not "foreign to Japanese culture".



    22/01/2016 20:30:00 JAPAN – VATICAN
    Takayama Ukon, “Christ’s samurai," to be beatified

    Pope Francis signs the decree on the martyrdom of the Servant of God Justo Takayama, who died in exile in the Philippines for refusing to give up his beliefs. For PIME regional superior in Japan, “this is fantastic news that brings great joy to the Church in Japan.” Takayama’s “song of love song and faith for the Christian proclamation.



    10/11/2014 JAPAN - VATICAN
    Ukon Takayama, the 'Samurai of Christ', to be beatified in 2015
    Card Amato, prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, confirmed reports to a Japanese delegation that visited the Vatican a few days ago. A big celebration is the works for the 400th anniversary of the death of the feudal lord, who gave up fame and fortune in order not to repudiate Christ. The announcement also increases the likelihood of a papal visit to Japan.

    09/06/2014 JAPAN - VATICAN
    Japanese bishops: A future papal visit, a real chance for peace
    Peter Takeo Okada, Archbishop of Tokyo and president of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Japan, talks about the meeting between Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and pope Francis. During the talks, Abe invited the Pope in the Asian country: "We are determined to pray and make every effort to make possible a visit of the Pope to Japan".



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