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Dom Justo Takayama

Dom Justo Takayama

One of the beautified saints of the Japanese Roman Catholic who lived during the Sengoko period and was canonized as Blessed Iustus Takayama Ukon. He was also known by the name Dom Justo Takayama, but was once called Hikogoro Shigetomo. Before he was even canonized as a saint, he was both a Daimyo and Samurai. It was his decision to abandon his life as a warrior and instead, devoted himself in faith. He was punished for doing so by being thrown in exile in another country in Asia, specifically in Manila, Philippines. He actually continued to live a life of holiness until the day he died.

Dom Justo Takayama Early Life

Dom Justo Takayama or Ukon, as he was known as a young man, was twelve years old when he neglected his faith. This was due to his great interest of being a samurai. However, after the coming of age ritual he decided to renew his faith. He was the eldest son of Lord Takayama Tomoteru who was the Daimyo of Sawa Castle in Yamato Province. His father converted to Roman Catholicism, thus, was baptized as Justo as a child. As a young man, he mastered the tea ceremony.

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Kirishitan Daimyos

Dom Justo Takayama, before he was declared saint, married and has three sons, as well as a daughter. Two of his sons died in infanthood. His father fought to secure their position as Daimyo. It was this battle that led the Takayama clan to possess Takatsuki Castle. During their control of the Takatsuki region, Dom Justo and his father pushed their Kirishitan Daimyo policies. A number of their subjects converted to the faith under their influence.

As time passed, Hideyoshi eventually became adverse towards the Christians and their faith. In the year 1587, he ordered the banishment of every missionary in Japan, and that all Christian Daimyo were to abandon their faith. While a few Daimyo obeyed his orders, Dom Justo affirmed that he would not abandon his faith and would prefer to give up all that he owned including his land.

Life of a Saint

Dom Justo Takayama’s journey to sainthood began after he was declared as God’s servant. He adopted the name after he shaved his head to show others of his retirement as a warrior. However, his life to sainthood was filled with persecution of Christians in Japan. He was even given a message from Toyotomi Hideyoshi that if he will not abandon his faith, all of his possessions would be taken from him. Dom Justo was also warned that his position as lord would be compromised as well. Even in the midst of threat, he did not gave up his position as a follower of Jesus Christ.

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Passage to Beatification

However, Pope Francis only approved his veneration as saint in the year 2016; yet after a year, there was a celebration to honor him and his beatification. This was held in Osaka on the 7th of February, 2017 and was presided by Cardinal Angelo Amato in behalf of the Pope.

Death in another Country

He was a martyr of the early Church of Japan. Because of his faith, he was exiled to Manila. The main reason for doing so was due to his refusal of abandoning his faith. He died of sickness, suffering from a violent fever that he never recovered from. Although Dom Justo Takayama was born in Japan, he died in the walled city of Intramuros in Manila, far away from the country of his birth.