Today in Catholic History – Founding of University of Santo Tomas

On 28 April 1611, the University of Santo Tomas was founded in the Philippines by Archbishop of Manila, Msgr. Miguel de Benavides, O.P. It is one of the oldest universities in the world. It is also the largest Catholic university in the world.

Founded to prepare seminarians and called Colegio de Nuestra Señora del Santisimo Rosario, it was later named in honor of Saint Thomas Aquinas. It was raised to the rank of a university in 1645. In 1947, Pius XII made it “The Catholic University of the Philippines”.

The inspiration for the university began with the first Bishop of the Philippines, Bishop Domingo de Salazar, who wanted a college/university similar to those in Mexico. Bishop Benavides provided the first resources for the university when he bequeathed his library and property for the university’s foundation. Much of the effort promoting the early university was through the Dominican missionaries who came to the Philippines.

The university has had a very interesting history – visited by two popes, favored by the Spanish royalty, and serving as a prison camp during WWII.

History of University of Santo Tomas


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