Japanese samurai recognised as martyr

A statue of Justo Takayama Ukon, a 17th century samurai and Japanese feudal lord who died after being exiled to the Philippines for refusing to renounce his faith.
A statue of Justo Takayama Ukon, a 17th century samurai and Japanese feudal lord who died after being exiled to the Philippines for refusing to renounce his faith.

Pope Francis advanced the sainthood causes of 10 men and women, including the Argentine “gaucho priest”, Blessed Jose Gabriel del Rosario Brochero, known for his ministry to the sick and the dying.

The pope also recognised the martyrdom of Justo Takayama Ukon, a 17th century samurai who died soon after he was exiled from Japan to the Philippines for being Catholic.

During a 21 January meeting the pope also signed a decree recognising a miracle attributed to Blessed Jose Sanchez del Rio, a 14-year-old Mexican boy martyred for refusing to renounce his faith during the Cristero War of the 1920s.

In recognising the miracle attributed to Blessed Brochero, the pope has cleared the way for him to become Argentina’s first saint. Pope Francis has expressed his admiration for the priest, saying that he was a man who “did not stay in the sacristy combing the sheep”.

In addition, he recognised a miracle attributed to Polish Blessed Stanislaus Papczynski (1631-17010, founder of the Marians of the Immaculate Conception.

As in the case of Argentina’s “gaucho priest”, the miracles in the causes of Blessed Papczynski and Blessed Sanchez prepare the way for their canonisations, with final approval – and a date or dates for the ceremonies – to be announced at a consistory with Pope Francis and cardinals in Rome.

Clearing the way for beatification ceremonies, Pope Francis also recognised miracles attributed to Italian Fr Francesco Maria Greco, founder of the Little Workers of the Sacred Heart, who died in 1931, and Elisabetta Sanna, an Italian widow and mother, who died in 1857.

The other decrees approved by Pope Francis on 21 January recognised:

  • The martyrdom of Czech-born Fr Engelmar Unzeitig, a member of the Marianhill Missionaries, who was born in 1911 and died in the Dachau concentration camp in 1945.
  • The martyrdom of Spanish Fr Genaro Fueyo Castanon and three lay companions who were killed during the Spanish Civil War in 1936.
  • The heroic virtues of Italian Capuchin Fr Arsenio da Trigolo (1849-1909), founder of the Congregation of the Sisters of Mary the Consoler.
  • The heroic virtues of Maria Velotti (1826-86), founder of the Adoration Sisters of the Holy Cross.

Related: Aussie Sisters guided beatification of martyred South African teacher Benedict Daswa