UCA News


Hunt on for remains of first Filipino prelate in Rome

Team scours Campo Verano in bid to bring Bishop Jorge Barlin back home

Roy Lagarde, Manila

Roy Lagarde, Manila

Updated: December 06, 2018 04:18 AM GMT
Support Asia's largest network of Catholic journalists and editors
Support Asia's largest network of Catholic journalists and editors
Hunt on for remains of first Filipino prelate in Rome

The Dominican Mausoleum at Campo Verano in Rome, Italy, where the remains of the late Filipino Bishop Jorge Barlin are believed buried. (Photo supplied)

Share this article :
Filipino priests in Rome are searching for the remains of the country's first native prelate who died in Italy more than century ago.

The priests said they intend to take home the remains of Bishop Jorge Barlin, who was supposedly buried at the Dominican Mausoleum in Rome's Campo Verano.

"It would be a great tribute to the man whose courage and unwavering faith protected the ... church in the Philippines against the threat of a schism," one of the priests, Father Ericson Jouse, said.

Had the bishop not stood for the faith, Catholics would have been a minority in the Philippines "and [Catholicism] would not have reached a glorious quincentenary."

The Philippines will celebrate the 500th anniversary of the arrival of the Catholic faith in 2021.

The quest to bring back the late bishop's remains started several years ago but success remains elusive because his bones were deposited in a common grave dedicated to members of the Dominican Order. 

While his death and burial records are well preserved, the late prelate's tombstone is missing.

The team searching for him is being led by Father Gregory Ramon Gaston, rector of the Pontificio Collegio Filippino, and Dominican Father Gerard Timoner of the Vatican’s International Theological Commission.

Named bishop for Nueva Caceres in 1905, Bishop Barlin became the first native-born Filipino to become a prelate.

He defended in the courts properties of the Catholic Church against encroaching members of the new Philippine Independent Church.

As the only Filipino prelate, Bishop Barlin delivered the invocation at the inaugural session of Philippine Assembly on Oct. 16, 1907.

He died in Rome while on an "ad limina" visit in September 1909. 

In 2007, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines released a pastoral letter honoring Bishop Barlin for giving "above all else service to God and the people." 

Support UCA News...

As 2020 unfolds, we are asking readers like you to help us keep Union of Catholic Asian News (UCA News) free so it can be accessed from anywhere in the world at no cost.

That has been our policy for years and was made possible by donations from European Catholic funding agencies. However, like the Church in Europe, these agencies are in decline and the immediate and urgent claims on their funds for humanitarian emergencies in Africa and parts of Asia mean there is much less to distribute than there was even a decade ago.

Forty years ago, when UCA News was founded, Asia was a very different place - many poor and underdeveloped countries with large populations to feed, political instability and economies too often poised on the edge of collapse. Today, Asia is the economic engine room of the world and funding agencies quite rightly look to UCA News to do more to fund itself.

UCA News has a unique product developed from a view of the world and the Church through informed Catholic eyes. Our journalistic standards are as high as any in the quality press; our focus is particularly on a fast-growing part of the world - Asia - where, in some countries the Church is growing faster than pastoral resources can respond to - South Korea, Vietnam and India to name just three.

And UCA News has the advantage of having in its ranks local reporters that cover 22 countries and experienced native English-speaking editors to render stories that are informative, informed and perceptive.

We report from the ground where other news services simply can't or won't go. We report the stories of local people and their experiences in a way that Western news outlets simply don't have the resources to reach. And we report on the emerging life of new Churches in old lands where being a Catholic can at times be very dangerous.

With dwindling support from funding partners in Europe and the USA, we need to call on the support of those who benefit from our work.

Click here to find out the ways you can support UCA News. You can make a difference for as little as US$5...
UCAN Donate
Thank you. You are now signed up to our Daily Full Bulletin newsletter
Support UCA News

William J. Grimm, MM


Union of Catholic Asian News

"As Pope Francis has said, we live not so much in an era of change as in a change of era. That is especially true in Asia and for the churches of Asia. UCA News is the dedicated, Asia-wide news and information service for the Church in Asia and we need your help to maintain the service."