Category Archives: Philippino History

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 SeƱora 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


Today in Catholic History – Battle of Mactan

On 27 April 1521, Spanish forces under the leadership of Ferdinand Magellan were defeated by the forces of Lapu-Lapu at Mactan Island. Ferdinand Magellan was killed.

Magellan had already achieved the conversion of the Philippino chieftain of Cebu to Catholicism and planned to bring Catholicism to the other peoples as well as placing the Philippines under the authority of the King of Spain. When Lapu-Lapu refused to recognize Magellan’s authority, Magellan decided to go to war against him.

Magellan’s numbers were around 49, those of Lapu-Lapu were more than 1,500 and in the battle Magellan was slain. His body was never recovered. The rest of Magellan’s crew would complete the first circumnavigation of the globe.

While Magellan is honored for bringing Catholicism to the Philipines, Lapu-Lapu is honored as a symbol against foreign occupation.

Battle of Mactan