The story of San Beda College in Manila is richly wedded to the narratives of the Roman Catholic Church, Western civilization, and the Philippines' journey as a nation.
San Beda College (El Colegio de San Beda) was established in 1901 by monks of the Ordo Sancti Benedicti (OSB) or Order of St. Benedict, also known as the Benedictines. Its founder, Benedict was born in the Umbrian town of Nursia, near Spoleto, Italy, in the waning years of the Roman Empire, AD 480. He hailed from a well-established family and was believed to have a twin sister, Scholastica.
As a scholar in Rome, Benedict knew and appreciated the splendours of Roman culture. But he was disillusioned with the worldliness around him and found inspiration in Christianity which was slowly expanding its roots. Eventually, he fled to the mountains of Subiaco where he lived in a cave as a hermit known only to the holy monk Romanus who provided him with food and clothing. After undergoing a deep spiritual experience, Benedict soon became renowned for his holiness and attracted some followers. He established twelve monasteries at Subiaco and founded the Monastery of Monte Casino, a place about 80 miles Southeast of Rome. In this monastery, he wrote the Holy Rule, Regula Sancti Benedicti, an embodiment of the balance between prayer and work (Ora et Labora), and lived at Monte Cassino until his death on March 21, around 547 A.D.
The Abbey of Monte Cassino became the cradle of the Benedictine Order. From this great monastery, the Benedictine Order spread far and wide, becoming one of the chief formative factors in the development of the New Europe. The Benedictine monks became the pioneers of Christian civilization, preaching the Gospel, preserving the Scriptures and other sacred writings of the Church as well as other classical literary treasures, serving the poor and sick, and teaching religion and various crafts to the young. Their influence from the 6th to the 13th century was so great that historians called this period the "Benedictine centuries" and St. Benedict is acclaimed as the "Father of Western Monasticism". In 1964, Pope Paul VI declared St. Benedict as the “Patron of Europe.”
Amidst the gathering storm of anti-clerical and native uprisings against Spain, the first group of Benedictine fathers and brothers came to the Philippines in 1895 from the Benedictine Abbey of Our Lady of Montserrat in the Cataluña region of Spain primarily to undertake agricultural and missionary work in Surigao in Mindanao. They were the latest of the European Catholic orders to come to the Philippines and the first Benedictines to do their mission work more than halfway around the world. Undaunted by the brewing Philippine revolt, the Abbot of Montserrat, Rev. Fr. Jose Deas y Villar, OSB sailed to Manila with 13 young Benedictine Monksmonks from the Colegio de Misioneros de Ultramar and founded the Benedictine community in Mindanao from which grew the roots of Benedictine tradition and influence in the Philippines. They did their work quietly but meaningfully in the Mindanao hinterlands where aside from their pastoral work, they ran schools given to them by the Jesuits and taught the natives the mysteries of the Faith as well as music, arithmetic, Spanish grammar, ethics, geography, history and elementary science.
Fr. Juan SabaterNotwithstanding the crumbling Spanish political order and the growing hatred for the Spanish friars in the islands, the Benedictines kept to their vows. Paradoxically, they considered this critical period as a propitious time to be in the Philippines where they were winning adherents and their work was warmly appreciated. Hence, in the middle of the Katipunan revolution, on the 14th of August 1897, Rev. Fr. Juan Sabater, who was appointed superior of the Philippine Benedictine community, opened the Chapel of Our Lady of Montserrat in Manila.
Anticipating the potential influence of public schools established by the American government and the American Protestant missionaries, then Superior Fr. Juan Sabater, OSB, with the support of the Benedictine community, decided to open up a school and appropriately named it after the great English Benedictine scholar and saint, the Venerable Bede.
On June 17, 1901, at six o'clock in the morning, the school's first Rector, Fr. Silvestre Jofre, celebrated the Mass for the opening of El Colegio de San Beda in Arlegui St, Manila and dedicated the school to the cause of Catholic education and the formation of Christian gentlemen committed to excellence and service of God and country. San Beda College commemorates the feast of St. Bede, its patron saint, on the first week of the school year. The school is attached to the Abbey of Our Lady of Montserrat, founded from the Abbey of Montserrat in Cataluña, Spain.
The school's original curricula were composed of Primaria Enseñanza and Secundaria Enseñanza y Comercio. The Primaria Enseñanza consisted of Class Infirma, Media and Superior, the equivalent of the first grades of the present elementary system. The Secundaria Enseñanza was made up of the four years of high school and the first two years of college leading to a Bachelor of Arts degree and a course leading to a Diploma in commerce
On January 24, 1906, the Pontifical University of Sto. Tomas agreed to recognize all courses offered by San Beda College. In 1910, San Beda was granted government recognition and the authority by the American colonial government to confer the degree of Bachelor of Arts and diplomas for the Elementary and High School. These were San Beda College's starting years—marked by vision and aspiration, challenge and response. The spirit of Saint Benedict enflamed the missionaries of Montserrat to do the unorthodox, moving ahead swiftly with their cause for education in a period characterized by the chaos and confusion of an anti-clerical and nationalist revolution, war between an old world empire and an emerging new world power, and the challenge of Protestantism brought about by the American occupation.
Decade after decade, through times of war, heroic struggles for independence, economic crises, political turmoil and social changes in the Philippines as well as internal campus strife, San Beda College has quietly pressed for creation, re-creation, adjustments, re-adjustments and expansion. San Beda College and the Benedictine community have remained steadfast in nurturing and strengthening the Catholic faith, pushing boundaries of excellence and possibilities in Philippine education, and building the Philippine nation.
- Fully Human
- Wholly Christian
- Truly Filipino
- Globally Competitive
- Faith (Fides)
- Knowledge (Scientia)
- Virtue (Virtus)
- Pursuit of Peace
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SAN BEDA UNIVERSITY SEAL
ABOUT THE SEAL
The upper section of the coat of arms indicates our Benedictine roots. The word PAX (Latin for peace) is combined with mountains (Montserrat, Spain) and a cross with two horizontal beams. The two horizontal beams declare that “I will carry another’s cross”.
The middle section stands for the educational nature of our organization. The two doves represent the students drinking from the fountain of knowledge, San Beda University.
The bottom section contains a tower and sea-lion (half lion – half dolphin), the original heraldic symbols for the city of Manila, where San Beda was founded in 1901.
The shield itself is a symbol for protection, especially when used in a phalanx. The motto of the university is inscribed on the scroll below the shield: Fides (faith), Scientia (knowledge), Virtus (virtue).
The name of the university is contained in a circular band that evokes wholeness and timelessness. The color red proclaims bravery. White stands for purity.
Lyrics by Atty. Raul S. Roco,
Composed by Fr. Benildus Maramba, OSB
Herald the Bedans coming
May their fellowship never cease;
Molded by bold, undaunted men
of pray'r, work and peace.
Through the carefree days of our childhood
And the visions of our youth
You gave us the wisdom of Benedict's soul
Faith in God and love of the truth.
When we encounter trails and hardships,
We shall give you honor and fame,
For nothing but these show our loyalty clear
To our Alma Mater's name.
Bring out the challenges, we'll win them all
And fear neither fire nor blood
Bedans will answer the clarions call
For San Beda, our country and God.