Takayama Ukon, a Roman Catholic Christian daimyo who was exiled from the country due to the anti-Christian edicts of the Edo shogunate and died overseas, has been officially approved for beatification, Pope Francis announced on Jan. 22.
Born in 1552 and dying in 1615, Takayama's life spanned the Sengoku period through the beginning of the Edo period. He was known as having served as the "foundation of churches" in Japan.
Takayama was baptized when he was 12, and became the chatelain of Takatsuki Castle at age 21. Refusing to obey an edict to renounce his faith that had been issued by daimyo Toyotomi Hideyoshi -- who also ordered missionaries out of the country -- Takayama went on to be sent into exile by Tokugawa Ieyasu, who banned Christianity altogether. Takayama passed away in Manila, Philippines.
The Japanese episcopacy asked the Vatican to consider Takayama for beatification as a martyr in light of the fact that he had renounced his status and feudal domain as a daimyo -- as well as his estate and his honor -- in order to dedicate his life to his faith. Beatification is the stage below sainthood in terms of reverence within the Catholic Church.
The Vatican approved Takayama as a martyr, recognizing that he had consecrated his life to God while suffering the torments of banishment and exile.