Colegio de San Juan de Letrán

Letrán College: The school, run by the Dominicans, traces its origins to two institutions—Colegio de Niños Huerfanos, founded by Capitán Juan Rodrigo Jeronimo Guerrero in 1620 as a school for orphaned boys, chiefly children of military personnel, and Colegio de Huerfanos de San José y San Pablo founded by Bro. Diego de Sta. Maria, OP.

Guerrero’s school began in a modest house in front of the Hospital de San Juan de Dios and near the Parian gate. Guerrero not only educated the boys but also fed and clothed them. The number of students grew steadily, and Guerrero who had become a Dominican brother appealed for public support. King Philip IV placed the school under Royal protection in 1623. The school was merged with the Dominican’s foundation in 1640. The Dominicans built a school of stone for 200 students near their church. But the 1645 earthquake destroyed the building. The school was temporarily moved to the Parian but returned to Intramuros and settled at its present site in 1668. (But the Muñoz map of 1671 depicts Letrán as still occupying a lot in the Parian.)

A fourth structure was built at the corner of the Baluarte de San Gabriel in 1699; Letrán has since occupied this site. In 1690, the school was elevated to an ecclesiastical college. In 1865 it was classified as a colegio de primera clase en Filipinas. A three-story structure was completed in 1937 a few years before the outbreak of war. The school buildings were damaged twice during the war: in 1941 during the initial bombing of Manila and in 1945 during the liberation of the city.

Rebuilt and renovated after the war, the school occupies the same lot it owned since the late-17th century. When the Colegio de Santa Catalina transferred to Quezon City, Letrán acquired the site occupied by the college and blocked off the street that separated Letrán from Santa Catalina, forming one large lot. A street perpendicular to the school site is named San Juan de Letrán.

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