[Rewind #AwaNgDiyosPH] Spanish priest whom Pope Francis declared blessed still ‘Filipino’

 

For Easter, The Filipino Connection releases articles from its special edition on the apostolic visit of Pope Francis last January 15-19, 2015.

 

QUEZON CITY—From martyrdom to stardom: Those were the paths to sainthood for the first Filipino saints, San Lorenzo Ruiz and San Pedro Calungsod.

A third “Filipino” is also taking the same path.

And Blessed Eugenio Saz-Orozco, OFMCap is “Filipino by upbringing” even if he’s born to Spanish parents. But since his declaration by Pope Francis last October 13, 2013 as blessed together with some 521 other priests and religious, analysts think this Franciscan Capuchin friar is a source of pride for the Philippine Catholic Church.

Orozco (in religious, Jose Maria de Manila) was among the 522 priests and religious executed and gunned down by Spanish military forces during the Spanish Civil War in 1936s.

The Intramuros-born Orozco (birth date: September 5, 1880) was Spanish by citizenship. But historian Regalado Trota Jose said “one cannot be strict about citizenship” during the Spanish era.

Blessed Jose Maria de Manila, OFMCap.

Blessed Jose Maria de Manila, OFMCap.

Technically, Orozco is part of the insulares, referring to the Spaniards born in the countries Spain colonized. But since he embraced the culture and upbringing of Filipinos during the first 15 years of his life, that can make Orozco “Filipino,” the archivist of the University of Santo Tomas said.

It is like the Spaniards in Mexico who were referred to as “Mexicans,” Jose adds.

Pope Francis declared Fr. Jose (or Joseph) Vaz, an Indian missionary, as a saint prior to coming to the Philippines. Vaz,  “Apostle of Ceylon” who converted 30,000 people and who brewed up Christianity in the country during the 17th century, is referred to as Sri Lanka’s first saint.

As for Saz-Orozco, some write-ups refer to him as “Spanish-Filipino”.

Saz-Orozco came from an ilustrado family (a wealthy family); he was the son of Don Eugenio Saz-Orozco, Sr., the last Spanish alkalde mayor of Manila, and Doña Feliza Mortera Camacho.

The young Orozco spent his “formative years” here in the Philippines. He finished the first two years of his baccalaureate studies (equivalent of secondary level studies today) at the Ateneo de Manila University, and then took the next year at Colegio de San Juan de Letran. Orozco finished his fourth and final year of studies at the University of Santo Tomas.

Those formative years, said Fr. Eugenio Lopez, OFMCap, provincial minister of the Order of Friars Minor Capuchins in the Philippines, “had an impact on his life”.

“His classmates even said that Jose Maria really had a big love for prayer and showed exemplar piety.”

At the age of 16, just before leaving Manila to pursue higher studies in Spain, Blessed Jose Maria de Manila “consecrated his self to the Blessed Virgin Mother.”

Don Eugenio Orozco “forced” his son to be a lawyer but this did not hinder the latter in pursuing what he really wanted to be: A Capuchin priest.

Orozco had actually finished law but practiced it only for few months. He then pursued his love and devotion for God: he was ordained to the priesthood on Nov. 30, 1910.

Blessed Jose Maria was said to be a fraternal person, a “very good” preacher. “Often times, he gets invited to other places. But amid his busy schedule, he always finds a time to spend with his brothers,” said Lopez.

Actually Blessed Jose Maria wanted to go back to the Philippines to serve the Lord and his “beloved” country. He never came back, the reason of which is still unclear up to this date.

Blessed Jose Maria was a “simple man” with “great love for the Gospel.” He stayed and devoted his adult life in Spain, preaching the word of God and helping the needy.

Moves against Catholicism and clericalism escalated in Spain, leading to the Terror Rojo (Red Terror) that began in 1936 until the end of the Spanish Civil War. Several religious leaders were forced to abandon their congregations by anarchists and Marxist troops. That time, Fr. Jose Maria was caught between leaving the Capuchins or staying.

Fr. Jose Maria hid in a relative’s home but his relative eventually surrendered the friar to rebels.

The 55-year-old Capuchin was executed on August 17, 1936.

Lopez and his congregation are “still hoping for a miracle” that can be attributed to the devotion to Jose Maria de Manila.

Nevertheless, the Capuchins in the Philippines are spreading the devotion to Blessed Jose Maria de Manila.

As for martyrs or people who were proven to die “defending their faith,” like Fr. Jose Maria, the first miracle that is needed to be called “blessed” is waived.

“[We will] witness the canonization of a third ‘Filipino’ saint in our lifetime,” Lopez said. “Let’s all pray to Blessed Jose Maria de Manila.”

 

Media outfits can publish, broadcast and post online this story, provided The Filipino Connection and the article’s author’s are properly acknowledged. Editorial mistakes are the publisher’s. Email: thefilipino.connection@gmail.com.

About JASPER EMMANUEL ARCALAS