Dominic of Salazar


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

A brief biography.


Dominic of Salazar (Domingo de Salazar) was born in La Rioja, in the village of La Bastida,in 1512. He studied at the university of Salamanca and was graduated in canonical law in 1532 and civil law in 1539. He entered, 1545,  the Dominican priory of San Esteban, Salamanca, professed 26.11.1546 and, after studies in philosophy and theology, 
he received the priesthood. He was sent to Mexico in 1553, where he received the degree of Master in Theology; he was appointed to the professor's chair. His ambition to evangelize the
pagans was granted and he devoted himself to the conversion of the natives in the Province of Guajaca, now Colombia.


Salazar was 1558 transferred to Florida, where he passed many years in toil and privation. From Florida he was recalled 1561 to Mexico to be prior of his priory and 1574 vice-provincial of the province de Santiago de México.


After forty years of missionary life, he was sent to Madrid on important business connected with the Mexican mission. Political enemies tried to thwart his work and succeeded in having him thrown into prison when he sought audience of the king. It was then that his presence in Madrid was brought to the attention of Philip, who proposed on 18th July 1578 his name to the pope as Bishop of the Philippines.


Salazar was loath to accept the dignity; but his missionary spirit prevailed. As he wrote later: "One of the reasons which made me accept this bishopric was the fact that these Islands are near China . . . For a long time I have had the conversion of that kingdom at heart, and with that thought I came to these Islands".

He set out June 8, 1580 for his see via Acapulco, taking with him twenty Dominicans, twelve of whom died before reaching Mexico; of the remainder only one, Juan Crisóstomo, O.P., was able to continue the journey to the Philippines.

Salazar and Juan arrived in Manila on 17th September 1581.


He espoused the cause of the Filipino with a fearlessness that won for him the titles of the "intrepid Salazar", "the Las Casas of the Philippines". He held a synod of the clergy, which was later confirmed by the pope, erected a cathedral, regulated the internal affairs of the diocese, opened a college, and established a hospital.

In his charity to the poor he even pledged his pectoral cross to relieve their necessities. Old age did not lessen his zeal. 1591, - he was almost eighty -, when he set out for Spain to plead in person the cause of the natives with the king. His mission was successful; various abuses were corrected, three new dioceses were created, and Manila was elevated to a metropolitan see with Salazar as its first archbishop.


Salazar died 4 December 1594 in Madrid, before receiving the Bull of his appointment and was buried in the church of Santo Tomás, Madrid.

His tomb bears this inscription: "Hic jacet D. Fr. Dominicus de Salazar Ordinis Prædicatorum, Philippinarum Episcopus, doctrina clarus verus religiosæ vitæ sectator, suarum ovium piissimus Pastor, pauperum Pater, et ipse vere pauper. Obiit 4 die Decembris anno 1594."

González Pola, O.P. Manuel: Obispos Dominicos en Filipinas.
Madrid 1991, p.88-89.






Dominic of Salazar, receiving the first group
of Spanish Dominicans in Manila on 25th July 1587.


Philippines 1987, Mi 1817, Sc 1892.







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