Ten thousand Catholics attended the beatification ceremony for Christian feudal warlord Takayama Ukon, who was expelled from Japan in the early 17th century for refusing to renounce his faith.
Cardinal Angelo Amato was sent from the Vatican on behalf of Pope Francis to oversee the event at Osaka-jo Hall here on Feb. 7 that elevates Ukon to one notch below sainthood.
Ukon was recognized as a martyr and given the nod for beatification by Pope Francis in January 2016, preparing the way for the official ceremony in Osaka.
On the stage, a piece of fabric from Ukon’s vest was displayed as a sacred relic as Archbishop Takeo Okada of the Archdiocese of Tokyo ceremoniously pleaded for the beatification of Ukon.
Amato, who is the Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, then read out a letter from the pope that gave the confirmation for the beatification.
After these formal proceedings, a portrait of Ukon, especially painted for the occasion by the Catholic painter Kazuko Mimaki from Nagasaki, was unveiled.
Ukon was born in current-day Toyono, Osaka Prefecture, and baptized at the age of 12.
He served under famous warlords, such as Oda Nobunaga and Toyotomi Hideyoshi, but ran into trouble when the latter placed restrictions on Christianity.
Ukon refused to renounce Christ and was stripped of his land, assets and rank as a result.
He was finally expelled from Japan in 1614 after the Tokugawa Shogunate banned Christianity, and he died in exile in Manila on Feb. 3 the following year.
The Catholic Church will celebrate the date of Ukon’s death, Feb. 3, as his feast day from this year on.
To date, 42 Japanese have been canonized, and 393 Japanese have been beatified.
Source and image: Asahi