Samurai’s cause for beatification forwarded to Rome
The Japanese bishops’ conference has sent the Vatican a 400-page application for the beatification of Takayam Ukon, a 16th century samurai who died exiled from his homeland for the sake of his Catholic Christian faith.
Fr. Anton Witwer, general postulator of the Society of Jesus said Takayama’s life is an example of “a great fidelity to the Christian vocation, persevering despite all difficulties.”
According to Catholic News Agency, “Takayama was born in 1552, three years after the Jesuit missionary St. Francis Xavier introduced Christianity to Japan. When he was 12, his father became Catholic, and Ukon was baptized as Justo by the Jesuit Fr. Gaspare di Lella.
“The Takayama were daimyo: members of the class of ruling feudal lords who ranked second to the shogun in medieval and early modern Japan. Daimyo held vast estates and were entitled to raise armies and hire samurai.
“Given their respected position, the Takayama were able to support missionary activities in Japan, serving as protectors of Japanese Christians and of the Jesuit missionaries. According to Fr. Witwer, who also chairs the Ignatian Institute for Spirituality at the Pontifical Gregorian University, they influenced the conversion of tens of thousands of Japanese.”
In 1587, Japan’s government expelled missionaries and began pressuring Japanese Christians to apostatize. While many daimyo acceded to the government’s demands, the Takayama clan gave up everything--their estates, their wealth, position, prestige--and became poor for Christ rather than forsaking Him.
For a while, some fellow aristocrats hid him. To remain Christian became punishable by death. What must have made this time particularly perplexing for Takayama was the execution of 26 foreign and Japanese Christians on February 5, 1597.
Nonetheless, he remained faithful. When the shogun outlawed Christianity for good in 1614, the samurai left the country with 300 of his countrymen for the Philippines. He died on February 4, 1615, just two months after his arrival. He had become very weak due to the mistreatment he suffered in Japan.
This is the third attempt to jump start Takayama’s beatification cause. One started shortly after his death, while the other started in the 1960s.
124 New Korean Martyrs to be Beatified
On February 7, Pope Francis approved a decree that the Servant of God Paul Yun Ji-Chung, a layman who died in odium fidei (in hatred of the Faith) between 1791 and 1888 were indeed martyrs. The decree further stated that the beatification ceremony would take place on August 15. Since the Asia Youth Day takes place in Seoul on August 13, it is quite likely the Pope will perform the beatifications.
According to AsiaNews.it, over 10,000 Catholics died for the Faith between 1785 and 1882, only 10 of them foreigners. One hundred and three are canonized, and a substantial number have been beatified. This gives Korea the fourth largest total of saints and blesseds amongst nations, even though the Church there is less than 300 years old.
AsiaNew.it also reported that last July, the Korean faithful held a “rosary marathon” for the intention of God granting the beatification of Paul Yun and Companions. It seems those prayers were heard.
Italian Franciscan Declared Martyr
Also receiving the designation of martyr was seventeenth century Franciscan priest Francesco Zirano. Ordained at age 22 in 1586, Clement VIII gave him permission to raise money for the ransom of Christian slaves in Islamic northern Africa. Arriving in 1602 in Algiers, Algeria at a time when anti-Christian sentiment was fierce, Father’s position was always a precarious one. It was made more so by a war between Algeria and a neighboring kingdom that Spain was backing. When that country defeated Algeria, Father was given a message with the news to take the Spanish monarch. However, along the way, someone betrayed him to Algerian soldiers. They told him he could keep his faith and die, or convert to Islam and die. He chose death and so perished on January 25, 1603.
Three Servants of God Declared Venerable
On February 7, Pope Francis approved the decree of heroic virtues for three Servants of God:
· Servant of God Jesus Maria Echavarria y Aguirre, Mexican bishop of Saltillo and founder of the Guadalupan Catechist Sisters (1858-1954).
· Servant of God Faustino Ghilardi (ne Guglielmo Giacomo), Italian professed priest of the Order of Friars Minor (1858-1937)
· Servant of God Maria Rocio of Jesus Crucified (nee Maria Rafaela Rodriguez Xuarez de la Guardia), Spanish professed religious of the Congregation of Sisters of the Love of God (1923-1956).
Miracle Approved for Paul VI
On February 21, it was reported that “The consulting theologians of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints have approved a miracle attributed to the intercession of Venerable Pope Paul VI, moving him closer to sainthood.
“Vatican Insider’s Andrea Tornielli reported Feb. 21 that earlier that week, the congregation’s theological experts had unanimously recognized the healing of an unborn child through the intercession of the late Roman Pontiff.
“In the mid-1990s in California, the then-unborn child was found to have a serious problem with a high risk of brain damage. Physicians advised that the child be aborted, but the mother entrusted her pregnancy to Paul VI.
“The child was born without problems, and now that he is an adolescent and remains healthy, he is regarded as having been completely healed."
Sheen Miracle for Beatification Approved by Vatican Panel
On March 6, the Peoria Journal Star reported, “A panel of medical experts has given its approval to reports of a miracle attributed to the intercession of Archbishop Fulton Sheen, bolstering the cause for his sainthood.
The seven-member board of experts that advises the Congregation for the Causes of the Saints at the Vatican gave its unanimous approval to the reported miracle, the foundation supporting the sainthood effort for the priest born in Woodford County announced Thursday.
The case involved a stillborn baby in September 2010 who demonstrated no signs of life for more than an hour as doctors worked over the child. The parents prayed and sought Sheen’s intercession, and after 61 minutes the baby, now 3 and in good health, was revived.
A board of theologians must now determine whether they concur with the medical experts that the alleged miracle has no natural explanation. Then, if they approve, the Pope must give his consent to the miracle’s validity. If that happens, the Vatican will set a date for Archbishop Sheen’s beatification.