Wednesday, August 28, 2013


The Jesuits?  Many people know that Catholicism was brought to the Marianas by the Jesuits, lead by Sanvitores.  We're even called the Marianas because of the Jesuit Sanvitores.

The Capuchins?  Any Chamorro Catholic 50 years or older knows about them, as they are still around and were the missionaries who gave birth to the modern Archdiocese of Agaña.

But the Augustinian Recollects?  Only those with more than a passing interest in Marianas history have heard of them.  Yet this Order of missionaries was in charge of the Marianas the LONGEST.

Under Three Missionary Communities
1668 ~ 1769
1769 ~ 1899
·         The Recollects remained in the Northern Marianas till 1907
1901 ~ 1965
·         When the mission became a Diocese in 1965, the Capuchins were no longer responsible for administering the entire local Church
·         The Capuchins remain on Guam to this day but not as missionaries but rather as a permanent, indigenous community

Some notable things about the Recollects :
  • they re-established the Catholic mission in Saipan after many years of depopulation
  • when the population of Tinian grew with the arrival of Carolinians in the 1860s, in time the Recollects opened a short-lived mission there
  • it was a Recollect who groomed José Palomo y Torres, a Chamorro, for the priesthood
  • under Recollect influence, a barrio in Hagåtña was named after their province's patron saint, San Nicolás
  • some Recollect priests gave San Nicolás as the last name of illegitimate babies, thus adding a new surname in the Marianas
  • A Recollect, Father Aniceto Ibáñez, published a Spanish-Chamorro dictionary and other works in Chamorro (some of the earliest we have)
  • Father Ibáñez and a later Recollect, Father Francisco Resano, kept a chronicle of events in the 1800s which gives us a bit of Marianas history for that century
  • The Recollects founded in the Marianas an association membered mostly by women, the Cofradía de Nuestra Señora de la Consolación de la Correa.  Members wore a leather belt, or correa, which entered into Chamorro folk customs.  The koreas was used to spank a child under the spell of the duendes or jungle fairies.
It was a Recollect priest who built the Malesso' Konbento in 1856
the oldest residence in continual use on Guam

A Spanish Recollect Missionary
his thick leather belt, or correa, is a distinctive feature of the Augustinian habit
So, for 130 years, with the exception of Father Palomo and several Filipino diocesan priests working in the Marianas when Recollect priests were either few or not available at all, it was the Recollects who kept the Catholic faith going in the Marianas, building churches, baptizing, marrying, burying, teaching.  Our great-grandparents knew their names, those at the end of the 19th century : Fathers Resano, Cabanillas, Ortín, Cueva, Lambán and others.
But few people today know anything about them.
Religious orders, like the Recollects, are divided into provinces usually named after a saint.  The Recollects in charge of the Marianas for 130 years were from the Province of San Nicolás de Tolentino.  That is why the name San Nicolás shows up on Guam and the Marianas in more ways than one.

1 comment:

  1. My great great grandfather was an Augustinian Recollect whose named was Father Fray Valentin Casamayor de la Concepcion hence, my Mangloña family is known as "Familian Casamayot" or "Casamayor-Mangloña." Sometimes we're also referred as "Familian Pale'."