Today, Blessed Justo Ukon Takayama (1552-1615) was beatified in Osaka, Japan. There are a few remarkable things about his beatification. First, Ukon is the first Japanese to be declared a Blessed as an individual, not among group of martyrs. Second, Ukon was a 16th century samurai. (That’s right, a samurai! How cool is that?!) Last but not least, his petition for canonization did not come from within Japan, but from the Archdiocese of Manila in the Philippines where Ukon died as a Christian exiled from Japan.
A website dedicated to Ukon’s cause for canonization reports that the beatification Mass was a beautiful cross-cultural celebration with pilgrims from Japan, Korea, Philippines and other parts of Asia. A 1000 member choir sang a Filipino hymn. Pictures of the celebration can be found here: https://takayamaukon.com/the-beatification-of-blessed-justo-takayama-ukon/
In a time of rising isolationism in many parts of the world, this celebration seems to stand boldly as a reminder of the boundedness that Christians of all nations share in our baptism and faith. It did not matter to the Filipinos who took him in that Ukon was Japanese, nor that he lived in Manila for only forty days until he died. That he was a witness for all Christians was enough for people to desire that he be raised to sainthood just fifteen years after his death, making a Japanese Christian the first Catholic to be presented to the Vatican for canonization by the Archdiocese of Manila.