Colegio de San José

In 1586, a royal decree authorized the foundation of a college for candidates to the priesthood and for Spanish boys and mestizos. In 1595, Gov. Gen. Gomez Perez de Dasmariñas sets aside 1,000 pesos for ten scholars and in 1596, Esteban de Figueroa, encomendero of Oton bequeathed his fortune toward the foundation of the school. The Jesuits inaugurated the college in 1601; but by 1605 its buildings are recorded as needing repair. In 1610, the college was reorganized as an endowed school (funds from Figueroa’s estate) and obras pias. In 1641, Gov. Gen. Hurtado de Corcuera ordered the street separating San José and the Colegio de Manila closed, creating one large compound for the Jesuit institutions.

The earthquakes of 1645 and 1648 damaged the college building. The building was apparently being repaired or renovated when the Jesuits were expelled in 1768. In 1771, the king objected to the archbishop of Manila appropriating the San José funds for his seminarians because the Figueroa bequest stated that the funds be used for Spanish children. In 1870, a royal decree classified San José’s assets as government property and the college was secularized. In 1875, the secularization decree was repealed, and San José became a college of medicine under the king and the governor. Day to day administration was turned over to the Dominicans. However, the endowment of San José had to support a number of students to the priesthood as condition for the Dominicans taking over the abandoned buildings of San José.

San José was planned as a two story E-shaped building enclosing two gardens. The longest wing was parallel to Muralla and the westernmost wing apparently housed a stable. The college building was destroyed during World War II. The site is presently occupied by the Pamantasan ng Maynila. Near the college the Jesuits opened a school for boys and girls but its precise location is uncertain.

In 1898, the Americans took charge of all the assets of the Spanish government. It sought to clarify the status of San José. The matter took many years to resolve with the Holy See deciding on 3 May 1910 to separate San José from UST’s medical school. But it took five more years of court battles to settle the issue. In 1915, San Jose was turned over to the Jesuits. It reopened along Padre Faura, where it was named Escuela Apostolica. Over the course of the 20th century, San José changed its location many times. It was moved to Intramuros but after the fire of August 1932, it was temporarily housed in the Casa Mision adjacent to the San Ignacio. It was at this time called Colegio de San José and later renamed to San José Seminary. It then moved to Balintawak and stayed there from 1936 to 1941. During the war it moved back to Padre Faura and later to San Marcelino. From 1945 to 1950 it was at Santa Ana beside the grounds of La Ignaciana. It moved to new buildings at Highway 54 (EDSA) but moved to the Ateneo de Manila University campus at Loyola Heights in 1965 where it remains up to the present. The seminary buildings at EDSA was purchased by the Quezon City government and made into a hospital.

Link to the official San Jose Seminary site.


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