Vatican City, Jan 23, 2016 / 04:02 am
The martyrdom of a 16th-century Samurai who died for his Catholic faith was approved this week by Pope Francis, making the Japanese warrior one among nine other causes that advanced toward sainthood.
Takayama Ukon was born in 1552 in Japan during the time when Jesuit missionaries were becoming introduced within the country. By the time Takayama was 12, his father had converted to Catholicism and had his son baptized as "Justo" by the Jesuit Fr. Gaspare di Lella.
Takayama's position in Japanese society as daimyo allowed him many benefits, such as owning grand estates and raising vast armies. As a Catholic, Takayama used his power to support and protect the short-lived missionary expansion within Japan, influencing the conversion of thousands of Japanese.
When a time of persecution set in within the country under the reign of Japan's chancellor Toyotomi Hideyoshi in 1587, many newly-converted Catholics abandoned their beliefs.