A Japanese Catholic Samurai who died in the 17th century in exile, will be declared Blessed during a Mass in ‎Osaka on Tuesday. Pope Francis has sent Cardinal Angelo Amato, Prefect of the Vatican’s ‎Congregation for the Causes of Saints, to preside over the Beatification Mass of  Justo Takayama Ukon.

Born into a family of landowners in 1552, Ukon converted to Christianity at the age of 12 after ‎coming ‎into contact with Jesuit missionaries.‎  When Shogun Toyotomi Hideyoshi took power and prohibited ‎the practice of Christianity, Ukon ‎refused to follow the great feudal lords and abandon his faith.  He ‎lost his properties, position, ‎social status, honor and respectability and was eventually forced into ‎exile. With 300 other Japanese ‎Christians he fled to Manila where, just 40 days after his arrival, he fell ‎ill and died on Feb. 4, 1615.‎  Pope Francis signed a decree on 21 January 2016 clearing Ukon’s way for Beatification as a martyr. CONTINUE READING