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Thursday, 02 June 2016 12:50

Logo for the beatification of Giusto Takayama Ukon

Pope Francis signed the decree on the martyrdom of the Servant of God Giusto Takayama Ukon , who died in exile in the Philippines at the beginning of the 17th century for refusing to give up his belief.

The Church in Japan , who was waiting for so long for this good news, is preparing for the beatification of Ukon which will be in 2017. The Bishops' Conference of Japan opened a competition for a logo that will serve to promote the beatification of the Servant of God. Among the works presented, the design of our sister Sr. M. Ester Kitazume, pddm, was chosen .

LOGO: In the logo are reproduced the seven round stars of the coat of arms of the Takayama family, with the cross and three rings in the background. The design aims to communicate to humanity today the joy of faith and hope in the Cross of Christ that Ukon professed with perseverance. The seven stars indicate the Ukon family who gave him the foundation of faith. They also symbolise the seven sacraments: Baptism, Confirmation, Eucharist, Reconciliation, Orders, Anointing of the sick, and Marriage; and the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit. The green colour around the seven stars expresses the hope in eternal life.
The cross is a sign of the offering of Ukon's life who followed Christ to give his life for him and for others. His baptismal name 'Giusto' means "man of justice", that gave of himself to others so as to live God's justice.
The three rings that emit light behind the cross, representing the life of Ukon and his faith that grows and strengthens the relationship with the Holy Trinity and with others. Takayama Ukon accompanies our timid humanity and leads us out of ourselves as Pope Francis invites us to.

Ukon Takayama, feudal lord of Imperial Japan converted to Catholicism in 1564. Pope Francis, on the 22nd of January 2016 signed the decree of martyrdom occurred in hatred of the faith, which came about in 1615. Five centuries after his death, despite the difficulty of finding documents on his life, the Church in Japan can therefore celebrate its first Catholic to receive in a single manner the honour of the altar.

Takayama Ukon was born in Osaka Prefecture in 1552 from the Takayama Tomoteru family, lord of the castle of Sawa. When he turned 12 years old, the father converted,  taking the name of Darius and baptized his son giving him the name 'Giusto'. Father and son are both daimyo of imperial nomination, feudal lords who have the right and the permission of the Court to recruit a private army and even to make use of the samurai. The same Giusto,before his conversion, practiced bushido, the "way of the sword" that represents the code of conduct of the Japanese warriors.

Thanks to their political commitment, the Takayamas came to dominate the region of Takatsuki. This was at the end of the sixteenth century, around 1580, when Japan is led by Toyotomi Hideyoshi also known as the "second unifier of the nation." During the reign of the two daimyo, many residents of the area converted to Christianity. At least up until 1587, when Hideyoshi is convinced by some advisers and bans the "great religion" of the West. Immediately after this edict many feudal lords who abjure the Catholic faith. Giusto and his father decide instead to put their land and honours back in the emperor's hands.

Giusto Takayama was able to live thanks to the support of many noble friends. However, when Christianity is banned altogether in 1614, the former daimyo choose the path of exile and guided another 300 Christians to Manila, where the group arrived on December 21st welcomed by Spanish Jesuits and by local Catholics. A group of them suggested to the exiles that they seek the support of Spain to overthrow the Japanese government, but Giusto refused. He died 40 days after his arrival in the Philippines on the 4th of February 1615, 1615: he was buried with military honors in the country and the Catholic rite. Today his statue dominates the Plaza Dilao.

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