Saturday, February 04, 2017

Beatification of 'samurai of Christ' to be broadcast live

The beatification Mass of a Christian samurai that will be celebrated in the Japanese city of Osaka will be broadcast live via YouTube on Feb. 7.

Jesuit Father Renzo De Luca and Sister Chiaki Maeda of the Caritas Sisters of Jesus, both members of the Japan Catholic Committee for Promoting Canonization, will provide commentary for the live broadcast of the beatification of Venerable Justo Ukon Takayama, a high-ranking daimyo (feudal lord).

Born into a family of landowners, Ukon (1552-1615) converted to Christianity at the age of 12 after coming into contact with Jesuit missionaries.

During the persecution of Christians in the 17th century, he lost his position because of his faith and was exiled to the Philippines.

Cardinal Angelo Amato, Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, will celebrate the Mass in Latin.

The broadcast will begin will 11 a.m. and will continue till 3 p.m. Japan time. The Mass starts at midday.


Father De Luca is the director of the 26 Martyrs Museum in Nagasaki. He will take the post of Jesuit Provincial on March 1. The Argentine missionary was sent to Japan when Pope Francis was the rector of the philosophy and theology faculty of San Miguel where Father De Luca studied.

"I want not only Japanese people but also foreign people to watch it," said Father De Luca who will mainly speak in Japanese but some English in his commentary as well.

Father De Luca praised Ukon as "a wonderful person in every field."

"As a Christian, as a leader, as a cultural person, as a pioneer of adaptation, he is a role model and there are many things we can learn from him. In this era of political distrust, I think he will be helpful for people other than Christians."

When Shogun Toyotomi Hideyoshi took power and prohibited the practice of Christianity, Ukon refused to follow the great feudal lords and abandon his faith. He lost his properties, his position, his social status, honor and respectability and was eventually forced into exile. With 300 other Japanese Christians he fled to Manila where, just 40 days after his arrival, he fell ill and died on Feb. 4, 1615.

Pope Francis signed a decree for his beatification in January last year.

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