Dom Justo Takayama Ukon (1552-1615), a samurai who converted to Catholicism at the age of 12, was beatified as a martyr in Osaka, Japan, on February 7.
Cardinal Angelo Amato, prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, presided at the Mass of beatification, which took place in an arena, Osaka-jo Hall.
As a result of Takayama’s lay evangelizing activity, Osaka at one point was over 80% Catholic, according to Vatican Radio. Exiled from Japan at the end of his life, Takayama died shortly after arriving in the Philippines.
“Rather than make compromises, he renounced honors and comfort, accepting humiliation and exile,” Pope Francis said following his February 8 general audience. “He remained faithful to Christ and to the Gospel; therefore he represents an admirable example of strength in faith and devotion in charity.”
Reporting on the underreported story of the persecution of Christians in Myanmar (Burma), John Allen noted recently that more than 60 churches have been destroyed in Kachin state since 2011.
“Thousands of civilians, many of them Christian, have fled into China,” Allen added, “prompting the Chinese authorities at one stage to deploy its military along the border, leaving 2,000 people trapped and 10,000 more to take refuge” in the border town of Manhai.
The nation of 56.9 million is 88% Buddhist, 6% Christian, and 4% Muslim.
Pope Francis reflected on Christ’s parable of the rich man and Lazarus in his message for Lent 2017, which begins March 1.
“Let us find inspiration in this meaningful story, for it provides a key to understanding what we need to do in order to attain true happiness and eternal life,” the Pope said.
The message, dated October 18 and released February 7, is entitled “The Word is a gift. Other persons are a gift.”
The brief message has three sections:
- The other person is a gift
- Sin blinds us
- The Word is a gift
“Let us pray for one another so that, by sharing in the victory of Christ, we may open our doors to the weak and poor,” the Pope concluded. “Then we will be able to experience and share to the full the joy of Easter.”