Faithful to Their Nobility, But Even More to the Faith

May 20, 2021

The fervor of the two sons of Genifonio, who was a pagan and prime-minister of the emperor, and who was ignorant of the fact that his sons had received baptism, was not less great than that of Prince Justus Ucondono.

Bl. Justus Takayama Ukon was a Japanese Catholic kirishitan daimyō and samurai who lived during the Sengoku period.

The elder son, aged twenty years, was named Paul Sacondono. He enjoyed the favor of the emperor, and was commander of a fortress that was far away from the capital. Having heard that all the fathers, as well as the bishops, had been arrested, and that all the Christians were to be put to death, he at once dispatched two couriers, one to Meaco and the other to Ozaca, in order to assure himself of the truth. While waiting he began to reflect on the best means to attain martyrdom. He at first thought of showing himself publicly at the capital, so as to be arrested; but fearing that no one would dare to lay his hand upon him if he were seen clad in his ordinary costume, he had his hair cut off and disguised himself as an ecclesiastic, being resolved to appear there with eight of his faithful Christian servants. Only one among them showed any sign of inconstancy, because he had been but recently baptized. Saconodo advised him not to expose himself with the others; but he generously answered: “My lord, I well know what the eternal salvation of my soul is worth; since martyrdom is the shortest road to gain it, I prefer it, and I make no more account of my life than I do of the dust under my feet.” Satisfied with this answer the young lord went to his room, where, prostrate on the floor, he prayed fervently to God to make him worthy to die for the love of him. Then he wrote to his parents to inform them that he was a Christian, and that he had formed the resolution to die for his faith. In this disposition he made a general confession, and prepared himself for death.

Meaco, Kyoto Japan

His brother’s name was Constantine. He arrived at Meaco with one of his cousins named Michael, where he received the fatal news. He cried out: “Oh we have just come in time to be martyrs.” He immediately went to Fucino, where his father was, and declared to him that he was a Christian. The minister, who tenderly loved his son, was astonished; he took him aside and said to him: “But, my son, if the emperor commands me to put to death all Christians, it will be necessary for me to make you die with them.” Constantine answered: “My father, I have declared to you that I am a Christian, not that I may avoid death, but that you may regulate your affairs. As for me, I am ready to die by the hand of the executioner, and even by your own hand, rather than disobey God; you certainly do not wish, I think, that I should cast myself into hell merely to please a prince.” Genifonio communicated this source of affliction to his wife, and both were plunged into the deepest grief. Michael happening to call upon his sorrowing aunt, she entreated him to use every effort to dissuade Constantine from rushing headlong to so premature a death. Nevertheless both returned to Meaco in order to find there an opportunity to be inscribed on the list of martyrs.

Rev. Eugene Grimm, ed. Victories of the Martyrs, vol. 9, The Complete Works of Saint Alphonsus de Ligouri (New York: Benzinger Brothers, 1888), 320–2.

Short Stories on Honor, Chivalry, and the World of Nobility—no. 778


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