BERLIN – Pope Francis has approved the beatification of Takayama Ukon, a Christian warlord who was ousted from Japan in the early 17th century, the Vatican said Friday.
Takayama, born in 1552, was baptized at the age of 12. Following the Tokugawa feudal government’s ban on Christianity, he was exiled to Manila in 1614 and died of disease the following year.
The approval of Takayama as beatus, or blessed, the stage below a saint, followed a campaign by Catholics in Japan for his beatification that grew active because last year was the 400th year since his death.
His beatification ceremony is expected to be held in Japan.
Following the announcement, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Japan issued a statement saying that the way he lived serves as a light that still shines on people of the present time.
In 2007, 188 Japanese Christians, including Petro Kasui Kibe, who died from persecution by the Tokugawa government, were picked for beatification. Their ceremonies were held in Nagasaki in 2008.