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The story of the Japanese samurai who could be declared a saint

2016-04-23

This documentary, "Ukon the Samurai,” will soon be released in honor of Pope Francis recognizing Takayama Ukon, the Japanese samurai, as a martyr. This documentary highlights Ukon's life as one of the most important samurais in Japan, but also, as a prominent Christian figure.

Born in 1552, Ukon converted to Christianity, following the suit of his father and the mission of Saint Francis Xavier. As both master of the tea ceremony and master of the samurais, Ukon gained many Christian supporters.

LIA BELTRAMI
Director, Ukon the Samurai
"Many many daimyos, which were the local kings, became Christian. So then, Takayama Ukon became king himself...and all of his people became Christian.”

However, Ukon was soon exiled from Japan as the result of one of the most severe Christian persecutions in history. He was expelled to the Philippines, where he was greatly revered as a Christian leader.

LIA BELTRAMI
Director, Ukon the Samurai
"Suddenly, in the Philippines they gave him state funerals. He was recognized to be a very holy person. There is a very important monument [for him]. All of the Christians in the Philippines, they know about him. Much more than in Japan right now.”

Ukon is being considered for sainthood for his desire to die as a martyr. Instead of commiting seppuku, the honorable suicide by sword reserved for samurais, Ukon allowed himself to live through his exile. He died of an illness 40 days later. 

Lia Beltrami, director of the film, hopes that spreading Ukon's story will give strength to the Japanese youth of today who are struggling with their faith. The film is expected to be released next year, when Ukon's canonization is finalized. 

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-MG, "Ukon the Samurai”
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