Thomasian Martyrs

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The Thomasian Martyrs were the Dominican Catholic priests who became administrators, professors, or students in the University of Santo Tomas, Manila. All of them gave up their lives for their Christian faith, some in Japan, others in Vietnam, and in the 20th century, in Spain during the Spanish Civil War. St. Lorenzo Ruiz de Manila was among the lay companions of the Thomasian martyrs of Japan.

Dominican Order Roman Catholic religious order

The Order of Preachers, also known as the Dominican Order, is a mendicant Catholic religious order founded by the Spanish priest Dominic of Caleruega in France, approved by Pope Honorius III via the Papal bull Religiosam vitam on 22 December 1216. Members of the order, who are referred to as Dominicans, generally carry the letters OP after their names, standing for Ordinis Praedicatorum, meaning of the Order of Preachers. Membership in the order includes friars, nuns, active sisters, and affiliated lay or secular Dominicans.

University of Santo Tomas private pontifical university in Manila

The Pontifical and Royal University of Santo Tomas, The Catholic University of the Philippines, or simply the University of Santo Tomas (UST), is a private, Roman Catholic research university in Manila, Philippines. Founded on April 28, 1611 by Miguel de Benavides, Archbishop of Manila, it has the oldest extant university charter in the Philippines and in Asia, and is one of the world's largest Catholic universities in terms of enrollment found on one campus. The university is run by the Order of Preachers. UST is the only university to have been visited by three popes four times: once by Pope Paul VI on November 28, 1970, twice by Pope John Paul II on February 18 1981 and January 13, 1995, and once by Pope Francis on January 18, 2015. The patron of the university is St. Thomas Aquinas, while St. Catherine of Alexandria is the patroness.

Manila Capital / Highly Urbanized City in National Capital Region, Philippines

Manila, officially the City of Manila, is the capital of the Philippines. It is the most densely populated city proper in the world. It was the first chartered city by virtue of the Philippine Commission Act 183 on July 31, 1901 and gained autonomy with the passage of Republic Act No. 409 or the "Revised Charter of the City of Manila" on June 18, 1949. Manila, alongside Mexico and Madrid are considered the world's original set of Global Cities due to Manila's commercial networks being the first to traverse the Pacific Ocean, thus connecting Spanish Asia with the Spanish Americas, marking the first time in world history when an uninterrupted chain of trade routes circled the planet. Manila has been damaged by and rebuilt from wars more times than the famed city of Troy and it is also the second most natural disaster afflicted capital city in the world next to Tokyo yet it is simultaneously among the most populous and most wealthy cities in Southeast Asia.


The Martyrs of Japan

Conversion of some Japanese to the Christian faith took place between the years 1549–1640 in Japan through the efforts of missionary evangelizers. During this era, the country was ruled by the bakufu, a military government headed by the shōguns who governed the country in the name of the Emperor. The Emperor at this time had become a mere figurehead, secluded in his palace in Kyoto.

<i>Shōgun</i> de facto military dictator of feudal Japan (1185-1868)

The Shōgun was the military dictator of Japan during the period from 1185 to 1868. The shogunate was their administration or government. In most of this period, the shōguns were the de facto rulers of the country, although nominally they were appointed by the Emperor as a ceremonial formality. The shōguns held almost absolute power over territories through military means. Nevertheless, an unusual situation occurred in the Kamakura period (1199–1333) upon the death of the first shōgun, whereby the Hōjō clan's hereditary titles of shikken (1199–1256) and tokusō (1256–1333) dominated the shogunate as dictatorial positions, collectively known as the Regent Rule (執権政治). The shōguns during this 134-year period met the same fate as the Emperor and were reduced to figurehead status until a coup d'état in 1333, when the shōgun was restored to power in the name of the Emperor.

Emperor of Japan Monarch in Japan

The Emperor of Japan is the head of the Imperial Family and the head of state of Japan. Under the 1947 constitution, he is defined as "the symbol of the State and of the unity of the people." Historically, he was also the highest authority of the Shinto religion. In Japanese, the Emperor is called Tennō (天皇), literally "heavenly sovereign". In English, the use of the term Mikado for the Emperor was once common, but is now considered obsolete.

Kyoto Designated city in Kansai, Japan

Kyoto, officially Kyoto City, is the capital city of Kyoto Prefecture, located in the Kansai region of Japan. It is best known in Japanese history for being the former Imperial capital of Japan for more than one thousand years, as well as a major part of the Kyoto-Osaka-Kobe metropolitan area.

Factors in the outbreak of severe repression of Christianity in Japan certainly included the fear of the Shoguns of all foreign influence. Contributory were the quarrels between Christian denominations, and imprudent acts of foreign navigators.

Saint Antonio González

Born in León, Spain, Antonio Gonzalez entered the Dominican Order at the age of 16. His favorite saint was St. Peter of Verona, the protomartyr of the Dominican order, thus his religious enthusiasm gave rise to his living desire for martyrdom. When an invitation was sent to their convent asking for volunteer missionaries for the Far East, González was among those who eagerly volunteered. His target destination was Japan, but he had to prepare for this mission in the Philippines. He arrived in Manila in May 1632. He became professor and acting rector of the University of Santo Tomas. In 1636, he was finally able to fulfill his dream of going to Japan. After a year, he was arrested while proudly wearing his habit. After tremendous torture, he was found dead in his cell at the dawn of September 24, 1637.

León, Spain Place in Castile and León, Spain

León is the capital of the province of León, located in the northwest of Spain. Its city population of 127,817 (2015) makes it the largest municipality in the province, accounting for more than one quarter of the province's population. Including the metropolitan area, the population is estimated at 202,793 (2015).

Antonio González was a Spanish Roman Catholic martyr and saint.

Peter of Verona Italian Roman Catholic priest

Saint Peter of Verona O.P., also known as Saint Peter Martyr, was a 13th-century Italian Catholic priest. He was a Dominican friar and a celebrated preacher. He served as Inquisitor in Lombardy, was killed by an assassin, and was canonized as a Catholic saint 11 months after his death, making this the fastest canonization in history.

Saint Domingo Ibáñez de Erquicia

Born in February, 1589 in Regil, Guipuzcoa, Spain, Domingo Ibáñez de Erquicia entered the Dominican Priory of San Thelmo at the age of 16. Realizing the need for missionaries in the Far East, he joined the Dominicans who went to the Philippines and arrived in Manila in the year 1611 and became professor of Theology at the University of Santo Tomás. Ten years later, he was sent to Japan. Constantly faced with danger, he spent his decade of mission in Japan faithfully preaching the Gospel and administering the sacraments, until he was finally caught by the Japanese authorities and killed through the "gallows and hole" torture. After thirty hours of continuous torture, he finally expired on August 14, 1633.

Errezil is a town in the province of Gipuzkoa in the autonomous community of Basque Country, located in the north of Spain.

Fr. Domingo Ibáñez de Erquicia was born in Régil, Guipúzcoa, Spain. In 1605, he was professed in the Dominican Order and in 1611, he arrived in the Philippines where he worked as missionary to Pangasinan and later as Professor of Theology at the Colegio de Santo Tomas.

Gospel description of the life of Jesus, canonical or apocryphal

Gospel originally meant the Christian message itself, but in the 2nd century it came to be used for the books in which the message was set out. The four canonical gospels — Matthew, Mark, Luke and John — were probably written between AD 66 and 110, building on older sources and traditions, and each gospel has its own distinctive understanding of Jesus and his divine role. All four are anonymous, and it is almost certain that none were written by an eyewitness. They are the main source of information on the life of Jesus as searched for in the quest for the historical Jesus. Modern scholars are cautious of relying on them unquestioningly, but critical study attempts to distinguish the original ideas of Jesus from those of the later authors. Many non-canonical gospels were also written, all later than the four, and all, like them, advocating the particular theological views of their authors.

Saint Lucas del Espiritu Santos

Born in Zamora, Spain on October 18, 1594, he entered the Dominican Order at the age of 16. In the year 1617, he answered the missionary calling to evangelize in the Far East. He became Lecturer of Arts at the University of Santo Tomás. Later on he was sent to Japan and arrived there in June 1623. For ten years, he engaged in underground apostolate. On September 8, 1633, he was arrested in Osaka, and a month later, on October 18, he was subjected to the "gallows and hole" torture. He died on the following day.

Zamora, Spain Municipality in Castile and León, Spain

Zamora is a city in Castile and León, Spain, the capital of the province of Zamora. It lies on a rocky hill in the northwest, near the frontier with Portugal and crossed by the Duero river, which is some 50 kilometres (31 mi) downstream as it reaches the Portuguese border. With its 24 characteristic Romanesque style churches of the 12th and 13th centuries it has been called a "museum of Romanesque art". Zamora is the city with the most Romanesque churches in all of Europe. The most important celebration in Zamora is the Holy Week.

Spain Kingdom in Southwest Europe

Spain, officially the Kingdom of Spain, is a country mostly located in Europe. Its continental European territory is situated on the Iberian Peninsula. Its territory also includes two archipelagoes: the Canary Islands off the coast of Africa, and the Balearic Islands in the Mediterranean Sea. The African enclaves of Ceuta, Melilla, and Peñón de Vélez de la Gomera make Spain the only European country to have a physical border with an African country (Morocco). Several small islands in the Alboran Sea are also part of Spanish territory. The country's mainland is bordered to the south and east by the Mediterranean Sea except for a small land boundary with Gibraltar; to the north and northeast by France, Andorra, and the Bay of Biscay; and to the west and northwest by Portugal and the Atlantic Ocean.

Osaka Designated city in Kansai, Japan

Osaka is a designated city in the Kansai region of Japan. It is the capital city of Osaka Prefecture and the largest component of the Keihanshin Metropolitan Area, the second largest metropolitan area in Japan and among the largest in the world with over 19 million inhabitants. Osaka will host Expo 2025. The current mayor of Osaka is Hirofumi Yoshimura.

Santo Tomás Hioji de San Jacinto

Born of Christian Japanese parents in 1590, in Kyūshū, Japan, he witnessed how his parents were martyred for their Christian faith. He went to the Philippines and sought admission to the Dominican Order. He studied philosophy at the University of Santo Tomás. He went back to Japan on November 10, 1629. Being Japanese, Thomas was able to move about with some freedom. While doing his missionary endeavors, he chronicled the martyrdom of his fellow Dominicans. The Japanese authorities eventually arrested him. He was subjected to the "gallows and hole" torture and died on November 15, 1634.

<i>Kirishitan</i> term for Roman Catholics in Japan in the 16th and 17th centuries

The Japanese term Kirishitan, from Portuguese cristão, referred to Roman Catholic Christians in Japanese and is used in Japanese texts as a historiographic term for Roman Catholics in Japan in the 16th and 17th centuries.

Saint Guillaume Courtet

Guillaume Courtet was a French Dominican of noble origins born in 1590. He joined the Order at the age of 17. He became prior of the Community in Avignon, France. His childhood dream to be a missionary was fulfilled when he set sail for the Philippines in 1634. He became professor of Theology at the University of Santo Tomás. Because of his holiness and zeal for the Gospel, in 1636 he was sent to be a missionary in Japan. A year later, he was arrested. In his trial, he affirmed that only Christian truth will save mankind. For this, he was condemned to death. He died in September 1637 through the "gallows and hole" torture.

The Martyrs of Vietnam

Vietnam was first introduced to Christianity in the year 1627. The Dominicans set foot on the country in 1676. Among the milestones of the Dominican missions were the training of catechists and the establishment of charitable institutions. The predominant religions during the era of martyrs were Taoism and Buddhism.

The government of Vietnam is similar to China. It was an empire ruled by dynasties that succeeded each other. The Emperor was regarded as an absolute monarch. In 1711, Emperor An Vuong issued the first Edict of Persecution of Christians.

Saint Domingo Henares

The 30-year-old Córdoba-born Domingo Henares arrived in Manila on July 9, 1796. He completed his studies in the University of Santo Tomás and there became a professor of Humanities. He went to Vietnam in 1790 where eventually he became bishop. His knowledge of medicine, astronomy, and the sciences was greatly appreciated by the Vietnamese, even respected by the Mandarins. Still, the fact that he was Christian made him subject to persecution. On June 9, 1838, he was arrested and a month later, on July 25, 1838, he was beheaded.

Saint Vicente Liem de la Paz

Vicente Liem de la Paz was a native Vietnamese born in 1731. This brilliant student was sent to the Philippines to study at the Colegio de San Juan de Letran. In 1753, he entered the Dominican order and studied in the University of Santo Tomás where he was later ordained a priest. After his petition to serve his people was approved, he went back to Vietnam as a missionary, working under Fr. Jacinto Castañeda, until he was arrested, tortured, and beheaded on November 7, 1773.

Saint Jose María Díaz Sanjurjo

José María Díaz Sanjurjo was born in Lugo, Spain on August 25, 1818. He secretly entered the Dominican Priory in Ocaña, and in 1842, he received the Dominican habit. He was a famous Latin scholar, theologian, and legal expert. He arrived in Manila on September 14, 1844. He completed his studies while teaching at the University of Santo Tomás. After a year, he left for the Vietnamese missions. In March 1849, he became Bishop. Even as he was raised to the episcopal rank, he remained a lowly servant of the Gospel. According to him, "Here, the dignities mean more work. I don't have any means of transportation at all, and although I did not vow to go barefoot, I do and sometimes with mud up to my knees" In 1856, he was arrested and was beheaded a year later.

Saint Pedro Almato

Pedro Almato was born in Barcelona, Spain on All Saints' Day, 1830. He went to Manila, studied in the University of Santo Tomás, and was ordained in 1853. Learning of the persecutions in Vietnam, he obtained permission from his superiors to go on mission in the said country. In October 1861, after several years of missionary work, Almato was captured and was beheaded on his birthday.

Saint Jeronimo Hermosilla

Born in the year 1800 to a poor family in Santo Domingo de la Calzada in Spain, Jeronimo entered the Diocesan Seminary of Valencia when he was fifteen years of age, but later sought admission to the Order of Preachers after being captivated by his Dominican professors. In 1824, he went to Manila and completed his theological studies at the University of Santo Tomas. He was ordained priest in 1828. A year later he was sent as a missionary to Tonkin.�There he learned the native language and taught catechism in collaboration with local catechists and other missionary Dominicans. In 1841 he was appointed bishop, and despite the persecution, continued his ministry hiding in safe places, until he was finally captured and beheaded in 1861.

The Martyrs of the Religious Persecution in Spain

Last October 28, 2007, Pope Benedict beatified 498 martyrs of the Spanish Civil War, in a Holy Mass presided over by Cardinal José Saraiva Martins, prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints. This was the largest mass beatification ever in the history of the Church.

Religious persecution in Spain during the Spanish Civil War

After the fall of the monarchy, the Second Spanish Republic was established. The Republican government and its supporters, a combined force of communists, socialists and anarchists, was particularly antagonistic towards the nobility, the land owners, and the Catholic Church. In 1936, a coup d'etat staged by rebel forces (Nacionalistas) attempted to overthrow the communist republicans, leading to a three-year political unrest characterized by extreme brutality and violence resulting to countless deaths among the government and rebel forces, as well as ordinary citizens caught in the war.

Since the Catholic Church has been among those considered as enemies of the republicans, thousands of priests and religious perished in organized persecutions. Though the civil war began in 1936, communist forces had started torturing and executing priests and religious as early as 1933.

Seventy-four Dominicans, most of them friars, were among those beatified last October 28[ which? ]. Of these, eight stayed for some time in the Philippines, six of them, Thomasians. [1]

Blessed Buenaventura García Paredes

Fr. Buenaventura Paredes was the 78th successor of St. Dominic as Master of the Order of Preachers. Born to a pious family in Castañedo de Valdes, Luarca, Spain on April 19, 1866, Buenaventura eventually decided to enter the Order of Preachers and received the Dominican habit on August 30, 1833. True to the Dominican tradition of scholarship, he studied Theology, Civil Law, and Philosophy and Letters prior to his ordination to the priesthood on July 25, 1891. After his ordination, he pursued further studies with which he earned his doctorate in Philosophy and Letters and in Jurisprudence. He then traveled to the Philippines as a missionary assigned to the Dominican Province of Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary. While in Manila, he obtained the degree of lector in theology, which was a requirement for teaching in the University of Santo Tomas. Fr. Paredes was a professor of political and administrative law at the UST Faculty of Civil Law which was then in Intramuros. He was also director of the UST published Catholic newspaper "Libertas".

In 1901, he returned to Spain where he assumed several positions of responsibility. He came back to Manila when in 1910, he was elected as the Prior Provincial of the Holy Rosary Province, a position he held for seven years. During his term as Provincial, he became among those responsible for the procurement of a land in Sulucan Hills on which the present UST Campus now stands. After his term ended, he went back to Spain to serve as the superior of a Dominican convent in Madrid. In 1926, despite his plea to be relieved of such great responsibility, Paredes was elected by the General Chapter as Master General of the Order. Due to some serious problems in the Order which weakened his health, Paredes resigned his office in 1929. He then retired to the convent in Ocaña.

When the civil war broke out in July 1936, Paredes was in Madrid. A month earlier, realizing that war was imminent, he expressed his desire to travel back to the Philippines. However, even after he was permitted by his superiors in Rome, Paredes could not leave Spain because the government would not issue him a passport. Providentially, Paredes had left his Madrid convent the night before it was attacked by armed men on July 19, 1936. After this event, Paredes, along with other Dominicans, had to be sheltered by a benefactor, Don Pedro Errazquin, himself murdered after a chalice belonging to Fr. Paredes was found in his house. Being constantly under police surveillance, Paredes had to stay in a boarding house, where he continued to perform his priestly duties: hearing confessions, praying the office, and celebrating the Eucharist. On August 11, he was arrested by armed men, and bravely he declared himself a priest and a religious. He was taken to a place of torture, and in the morning of the following day, he was shot in Valdesenderín del Encinar. His rosary and his breviary was found near his cadaver.

In his honor, P. Paredes street, a street close to UST was named after him.

Blessed Jesus Villaverde Andrés

Fr. Jesus Villaverde Andres was born in San Miguel de Dueñas, León, Spain, on December 4, 1877. In 1894, he entered the Dominican Order and after completing his theological studies, he was ordained to the priesthood on June 26, 1903. He was then sent to the Philippines, and around the years 1905-1910, he taught at the Colegio de San Juan de Letran. He returned to Spain and was assigned to the Convent of Valencia. In 1916, he went back to the Philippines to teach in the University of Santo Tomas where he held a professorial chair in theology after obtaining his Doctorate in Sacred Theology from the UST Faculty of Sacred Theology in 1919. He became professor of dogmatic theology and canon law in the same faculty. He held several positions of responsibility in UST. He was Secretary General from 1919–1921 and Treasurer from 1929-1932. During the years 1921-1924, Villaverde was in the United States, serving as prior of the Dominican Community in Rosaryville, New Orleans. When he returned to Manila, he became the rector of the Colegio de San Juan de Letrán from 1924-1927. He then became Dean of the UST Faculty of Sacred Theology from 1932-1934. Among the new Thomasian blesseds, it was only Blessed Jesús Villaverde Andrés who was able to see UST in its present location, having resided at the present Priory of St. Thomas Aquinas. For sure, Fr. Villaverde occupied one of the rooms in the UST Fathers' Residence.

Villaverde went back to Spain to serve as prior of the Santo Tomás Convent in Avila and later on was assigned to Madrid. While in Madrid, his convent was attacked by the communists on July 1936. Fr. Villaverde had to hide in his mother's house in Cuesta de los Descargos. Later on, his brother, Carlos, a military man, took custody of him for three months. In his brother's house he did nothing but pray and console his family. On October 15, he was arrested by the milicianos. Carlos' children tried to save Fr. Villaverde by telling the arresting officers that there was no priest in their house, but when the milicianos threatened to take Carlos instead, Fr. Villaverde voluntarily showed up and handled himself over to the arresting officers. He was brought to the place of torture and later on executed; the manner of which still remains a mystery.

Throughout his life as a Dominican, Villaverde faithfully carried out all his duties as a priest and a religious. Often criticized for his being strict and somewhat temperamental, unknown to many, Villaverde was quietly suffering the pains brought on him by his liver disease. Witnesses of his priestly life affirm that he was an excellent preacher, and his brilliance as a theology earned him the respect of the Holy See.

Blessed Pedro Ibáñez Alonzo, Manuel Moreno Martines, Maximino Fendandez Mariñas and José María López Carillo

These four martyrs of the Religious Persecution in Spain sailed to the Philippines as young Dominican missionaries assigned to the Holy Rosary Province. They stayed for sometime in the convent of Santo Domingo in Intramuros while taking up theological studies in the University of Santo Tomás. They were ordained as priests in Santo Domingo Church, and after several assignments both in and out of the Philippines, they went back to Spain and were assigned to the Holy Rosary Convent in Madrid. After their convent was attacked by the Republicans, they went into hiding until they were found and arrested by the milicianos who tortured and eventually executed them. Fr. Alonzo was a missionary in China before going back to Spain He and Fr. Carillo tried to escape the persecution but the milicianos caught and executed them. Fr. Martines, who studied Moral Theology in UST, was executed after being caught by milicianos �in a train station. Eleven gunshot �wounds were found on the body �of Fr. Mariñas.

Blessed Jose Maria de Manila

Born on September 5, 1880 in the old city of Manila, Eugenio Saz-Orozco took the name Jose Maria when he entered the Order of the Friars Minor Capuchin (OFMCap.) in Spain. His father was the last mayor of Manila during the last years of the Spanish government that ended in 1898.

He finished his secondary schooling in 1895 at the University of Santo Tomas while remaining “alumno interno” at San Juan de Letran. It was his school records in UST that identified him as “de Manila” thus indicating he was born in the City. He went to Spain in 1896 for the purpose of making the necessary higher studies in preparation for a career. It was in Spain that he decided to join the Capuchin Order. He and was ordained to the priesthood on November 30, 1910.

He had longed to go back as a missionary to the Philippines, his country of birth, but on August 17, 1936 during the religious persecution in Spain. His last words before he died were: “Long live Christ the King!”

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  1. Assoc. Prof. Richard G. Pazcoguin. "Special Lesson on UST Martyrs", UST Institute of Religion.