Fr. Francisco Paula de Sanchez

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Father Francisco Paula de Sanchez (1849-1928) was a Jesuit priest and mentor to the Philippine national hero, Jose Rizal.

Contents

Relationship with Rizal

Father Sanchez whom Rizal described, according to Austin Coates, as “a model of uprightness, earnestness and love of advancement of his pupils,” was Rizal’s professor in Rhetoric and Literary in Ateneo Municipal. Father Sanchez, ‘a dark, gloomy and bat-like person’, was then 26 years old when he became Rizal’s teacher in 1876. He recognized Rizal’s acquired ability and understanding for poetry and encouraged the boy to focus on writing more sensible pieces. Father Sanchez, besides Rizal’s mother, Teodora Alonso, evaluated Rizal’s pieces and guided him to a more specific direction of his work. Due to request of Father Sanchez, the poem San Eustacio, Martir (St. Eustache, Martyr) was versified by Rizal on the first day of the academic year. Rizal was a member of Society of Muses in Ateneo and he, holding the advice of the young priest regarding poetry, increasingly wrote poems written in Spanish with nationalistic appeal while he was studying in Ateneo. These are the poems he wrote in 1876, the academic year when he was under the mentorship of Father Sanchez : Un Recuerdo A Mi Pueblo (In Memory Of My Town); Por La Educación Recibe Lustre La Patria (Through Education Our Motherland Receives Light); La Conquista de Granada (Triumphal Entry of the Catholic Kings in Granada); Alianza Íntima Entre La Religión Y La Buena Educación (Intimate Alliance Between Religion and Education); A La Virgen de Antipolo (To The Virgin of Antipolo) and; San Eustacio, Martir (St. Eustache, Martyr).

In final academic year, Father Jose Villaclara who was Rizal’s professor in Philosophy and Science viewed that Rizal was wasting time in poetry. Rizal who was considered then a small boy, wept when he was advised by Father Villaclara to say goodbye to the Society of Muses. Rizal disobeyed and despite of discouragement into which Villaclara tried to put Rizal, the boy continued to write poems and still consulted Father Sanchez privately for correction of his verses.

Father Sanchez, after Rizal’s days in Ateneo, spent three years in Europe and returned to Manila in 1881. He taught Science with specialization in Botany and became the first curator of Ateneo Museum which he also ran. When Noli Me Tangere sparked controversy in 1887, the priest defended the book in public.

Father Sanchez in Dapitan

Thought to be strayed with his religious faith, Jose Rizal in Dapitan was tried to be brought back to Catholicism. Father Pablo Pastells who was then the Superior of Jesuits in the Philippines after having a correspondence with Rizal about theological and philosophical discussion, instructed Father Obach, curator of Dapitan, and Father Jose Villaclara, curator of Dipolog, to persuade Rizal in Dapitan to change his subversive ideas on religion he once adopted or which was even formed in him in his early childhood. However, the two priests failed in doing such. Father Pastells as he informed the Jesuit Provincial in Spain, thought to send Rizal’s former teacher Father Francisco Paula de Sanchez whom Rizal gives high regards and to whom Rizal listens. Father Pastells wrote:

“These instructions have already gone, but I hope to send another living instruction namely father Sanchez, of whom Rizal thinks highly, to see if this strayed sheep can be brought back to the right path.”

On special transfer from Manila, Father Sanchez arrived in Dapitan in August 1892. He ensured to have daily meetings with the deportee of whom he was very fond. Having the advantage of being Rizal’s favorite teacher whose ideas were always considered by Rizal, Father Sanchez, however, found himself comfortable even when he engaged in theological arguments yet in friendly manner with his favorite student way back in Ateneo. Rizal to Father Sanchez said he considered himself a catholic supported that he went to church at Dapitan regularly. But this Catholicism he referred to was far different from what had been practiced in the Philippines. With Rizal’s own religious faith mixed with scientific perspective, Father Sanchez failed to entirely convinced Rizal to embrace even the ‘little Catholicism’ he wanted for him.

Despite of this failure, Father Sanchez made his visit in Dapitan worthwhile enjoying Rizal’s company. On his birthday, he received a gift from Rizal which was a manuscript of Tagalog grammar entitled Estudios sobre la lengua tagala (Studies on the Tagalog Language) which was written by Rizal to dedicate to him. Sanchez also helped Rizal in designing and making a huge relief map of Mindanao located in the town plaza (now situated across St. James Church with hanging hard-wood labeled “Mapa sa Mindanao Hinimo ni Dr. Jose P. Rizal”). The total land area of the Relief Map is about 900 square meters.

In April 1893, after Fr. Pablo Pastells was replaced by Juan Picart in February of the same year, Sanchez was withdrawn from Dapitan.

References

  • RIZAL, Philippine Nationalist and Martyr by Austin Coates. Oxford University Press. 1968.
  • (Philippine Travel Guide-Relief Map of Mindanao. [1])
  • (JOSE P. RIZAL'S EXILE IN DAPITAN (1892-1896). [2].

Citation

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