OSAKA – Takayama Ukon, a Japanese Christian warlord, was officially endorsed Tuesday by the Vatican as “beatus,” or “blessed,” the stage below a saint, at a beatification ceremony in Osaka.
Ukon, born in 1552 and baptized in his childhood, served as a warrior and was exiled to Manila in 1614 due to the Edo Shogunate’s ban on Christianity. He died of fever in 1615.
Cardinal Angelo Amato read out a letter declaring Ukon to be named in the beatus list at the ceremony, at which Ukon’s portrait was shown and around 10,000 Catholics and other participants from Japan and abroad took part.
Pope Francis approved the recognition of Ukon in January 2016 after receiving an application from the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Japan calling for Ukon’s beatification as a martyr, saying he had abandoned his warlord status and sacrificed his life for the sake of his firm belief.
Approval of beatification requires either martyrdom or a miracle to have taken place. Excluding Ukon, 393 Japanese have been granted the status while 42 others have been made saints.