In a heartfelt tribute to Blessed Justo Ukon Takayama, the Jesuit Music Ministry (JMM) is set to release a single titled,“Mabunying Samurai.” Scheduled for February 2, 2024, the single’s release along with its music sheet, aligns with the eve of Blessed Takayama’s feast day.
Blessed Justo Ukon Takayama, a Catholic layman of heroic virtue, stood as a pillar in the early Church of Japan during the 16th century. Born in 1552, Takayama lived a life marked by unwavering faith and a deep commitment to Christianity.
JMM’s upcoming single pays homage to Blessed Takayama’s extraordinary journey of faith and sacrifice. Performed by Tinig Barangka featuring Rey Malipot, “Mabunying Samurai’s” lyrics, penned by the late Fr. +Tim Ofrasio SJ, and music, composed by Bro. Dom Bulan SJ, resonate with the resolute spirit of the samurai who stood firm in his Christian convictions and capture the essence of Takayama’s devotion.
Blessed Takayama’s inspiring legacy has spurred the Vatican’s recent investigation into miracles associated with his intercession. In December 2023, according to a report from CBCP News, Japanese Cardinal Thomas Aquinas Manyo Maeda of Osaka revealed the Vatican’s ongoing inquiry with high hopes for the miracles’ approval. If confirmed, these could lead to the canonization of Blessed Takayama as the Church’s first “samurai saint.”Notably, JesCom’s Catholic Mass Media Award-winning 2022 Holy Week Special, “Gabay sa Pagiging Santo” discusses Blessed Takayama’s path to sainthood.
Takayama’s life was one of remarkable choices. Raised in a noble daimyo family, he embraced Christianity at the age of 11, influenced by his father’s conversion. Despite his upbringing as a warrior and feudal lord, Takayama humbly renounced his power and possessions instead of denouncing his Christian faith.
In 1614, facing persecution and an ultimatum to abandon his faith or his feudal power, Takayama chose the former. Exiled from Japan with 300 other Christians, he found refuge in Manila, where he could practice his faith freely. Unfortunately, his time in the Philippines was brief, as he passed away just 44 days after arriving.
In recognition of his profound sacrifice, Pope Francis declared Takayama’s death a martyrdom in 2016. He was officially beatified in February 2017, and the beatification ceremony in Osaka marked a historic moment in Japanese church history. Takayama’s cause for beatification was processed individually, setting it apart from other group martyrs in Japan’s rich history of saints and blessed.
As JMM prepares to release its musical tribute to the noble warrior, it invites listeners to reflect on the courage and faith exemplified by this candidate for sainthood. “Mabunying Samurai” stands as a poignant reminder of Blessed Justo Ukon Takayama’s enduring legacy, inviting us to contemplate the intersection of faith, sacrifice, and an indomitable spirit.