A Japanese samurai who gave up his status to follow Christ will be honoured in a ceremony in Japan next month.

Agenzia Fides reports that a ceremony for the beatification of Justo Takayama Ukon (1552-1615), known as the 'Samurai of Christ', will take place in Osaka on 7th February. 

Born into a family of landowners, 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, his position, his 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 4th February, 1615.

Pope Francis signed a decree for his beatification in January last year. Cardinal Angelo Amato will preside over the rite next month.

The news comes as the Martin Scorsese film Silence - which tells the story of Christian martyrs in Japan in the 16th century - hits screens all over the world. The film, which stars Liam Neeson, is based on the 1966 novel by Shūsaku Endō.