University of Saint Thomas Aquinas

A brief history of the arrival of the Dominicans on the Philippines.

A brief description.of the history of the University.

The University of Santo Tomás (UST) at Manila is the oldest university in Asia and in term of student population the largest Catholic University in the world located in one campus. It was founded on April 28, 1611 by the third Archbishop of Manila, Miguel of Benavides, O.P. (1550-25.07.1605), together with Domingo de Nieva, O.P. and Bernardo de Santa Catalina, O.P. It was originally conceived as a school to prepare young men for the priesthood. Located within Intramuros, the Walled City of Manila, it was called Colegio de Nuestra Señora del Santisimo Rosario and later renamed Colegio de Santo Tomás in memory of the foremost Dominican Theologian, saint Thomas Aquinas (1224/25-07.03.1274).
In 1624 the colegio was authorized to confer academic degrees in Theology, Philosophy and Arts. On November 1645 Pope Innocent X elevated the College to the rank of a university and in the same year it received the title of royal university from Philip IV of Spain, and in 1680, it was subsequently placed under royal patronage. In 1785, for the exceptional loyalty shown by the administration and students who volunteered to defend Manila against the British invasion, King Charles III granted it the title of 'Royal University'.

Attached to the university is the College of San Juan de Letran. After a five years' course in this college, including Latin, Greek, English, mathematics, natural history, botany, mineralogy, physics, chemistry, and philosophy, the successful student receives the Degree of Bachelor of Arts. The university has the right of conferring the doctorate in theology, philosophy, in civil and canon law, medicine, pharmacy, literature, and science. The departments of the university are all within the 'walled city'.

In connection with the university there is an excellent museum of natural history with excellent material for the study of anatomy, anthropology, diplogenesy, Philippine ethnology, zoology, botany, mineralogy, and numismatics.
The zoological specimens and their varieties have been carefully catalogued in a notable work, 'Catálogo sistemático de toda la fauna de Filipinas', arranged by the Casto de Elera, O.P., who for many years held the chair of natural history in the university. The classes of medicine are held in St. Joseph's College and in the San Juan de Dios hospital, both founded in the seventeenth century. The medical department has well-equipped laboratories. The courses of pharmacy are given in St. Joseph's College. The library contains more than 25,000 volumes.

Pope Leo XIII made the University of Santo Tomas a Pontifical University on September 17, 1902 and in 1974, Pope Pius XII bestowed upon it the title of Universidad Católica de Filipinas 'The Catholic University of the Philippines', 30.4.1947. In 1927, with the continuing increase in enrolment, the University moved from Intramuros to its present site in the district of Sampaloc that covers an area of 21.5 hectares.

Since its foundation, the University's academic life has been interrupted only twice: 1898 to 1899, during the Philippine revolution against Spain; and 1942 to 1945, during the Japanese occupation of Manila, when the University of Santo Tomas was transformed by the Japanese Forces into a concentration camp. The university is under the direction of a corporation formed by Dominicans; the rector is always a member of that order, though secular professors are appointed for the chairs of civil law, medicine and pharmacy. The faculty numbers 60 professors and 220 assistant teachers and masters in the various departments of the university. (2000)

John J. Thompkins. Transcribed by Joseph E. O'Connor

The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume XIII. Copyright © 1912 by Robert Appleton Company. Online Edition Copyright © 1999 by Kevin Knight.
Other sources. PW


The University of Saint Thomas Aquinas in memory
of the founding April 28, 1611, 345-years.
Main building of the University.

Philippines 1956, Mi 606, Sc 631.



The patriot Dr. José Rizal (19.06.1861-30.12.1896) as a student and the Ateneo municipal and University of Saint Thomas
in Manila.

Philippines 1961, Mi 677, Sc 536.




Pope Paul VI arrived in the morning of 26th November 1970, 09.25 at the airport of Manila. The Bolivian artist Benjamin Mendoza y Amor Flore, dressed as clergy, ran to the Pope with an Indian crease in his hands.
The private-secretary of the Pope pushes the man away.  
Photo: Pope Paul VI met his attacker Benjamin Mendoza y Flores. 

Philippines 1970, Vatican, Kimcover 1970.


First Centenary of the Faculties of Medicine and Pharmacy of the University of Saint Thomas in Manila (1871-1971).
The Emblems of the Faculties and the tower of the main building
of the University in Manila.

Philippines 1971, Mi 972, Sc 1103.


50th Anniversary, 1926-1976 of the Colleges of Education
and Science, of the University of Saint Thomas. Emblems.

Philippines.1976, Mi 1165, Sc 1294.




Pope John Paul II on the Philippines 18.02. 1981.

He visited also this University..  

Philippines, Vatican 1981. KimCover PW 146.



Miguel of Benavides, O.P., since 23.02.1601 third Archbishop of Manila, in conference with his executors-testamentary Bernardo de Santa Catalina, O.P and Baltasar Fort, O.P. about the foundation of a colegio in Manila.
In the background the front of the university building.

Philippines 1987, Mi 1819, Sc 1894.


50th anniversary, 1938-1988 of the graduate school,
Thomas College, joined with the University of Saint Thomas Aquinas.
Before the building the statue of Thomas Aquinas.

Philippines 1988, Mi 1923, Sc 1988.



The University of Saint Thomas Aquinas was many times the location for events, so for the stamp-exhibition CHRISTYPEX ’95.

Philippines 1995, Mi Block 82, Sc 2345.




50th Anniversary of the liberation of the prisoners in the
Japanese internment camps at the University of Saint Thomas
Aquinas, Manila, 1945.       

Philippines 1995, Mi 2509, Sc 2357.



50th Anniversary of the Saint Thomas University Hospital, Manila. 

Philippines 1996, Mi 2646, Sc 2400.



The University of Saint Thomas Aquinas at Manila
on 28 April 1861.

Philippines 1996, Mi 2760, Sc 2450b.



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