This should have been a follow-up article on the Diego de Herrera Case that I posted at AgustinongPinoy. But since the site is still inaccessible after three days, I am posting this here.
Fr. J. celebrated his birthday today in our convent at San Pedro, Laguna. A lot of guests came, representing several friars’ communities in Laguna and Manila. Among these were the novitiate community of San Agustin Intramuros Manila, headed by Fr. P. who is also one of the more published Augustinian friars working in the Philippines today.
Some weeks ago, I discovered a forum post at Catanduanes.Net where a certain Mr. Langub (or Langob) was asking the Augustinians to help them work for the process of Diego de Herrera for the sainthood. Fray Diego de Herrera was one of the five Augustinian friars who accompanied Miguel Lopez de Legazpi to the Philippines in 1565. I was interested to know whether the friars of the Vicariate of the Orient are acquainted with the case. Sure enough Fr. P. told me that they have known about the case since 1973. He does not know however how it has progressed since the Bishop of Catanduanes at that time — Bishop Molina — who has documented the case for Diego de Herrera had died. He also mentioned that Fr. A, now assigned as Master of Students at Intramuros, was tasked to follow up the case.
This news from Fr. P. was refreshing since it was only some weeks ago that I learned about the case for Diego de Herrera, and from a layman, too. Since my student days, I have wondered whether the first five missionaries to the Philippines were saintly; it would be a pity if they were not, since the fruit of their work is something that the Filipino Church is now enjoying. I of course know that Martin de Rada , the superior of the group, and Urdaneta , the navigator of Miguel de Legazpi, had the reputation of being saintly. But Diego de Herrera? Compared to the two previous friars I mention, he is virtually unknown, except for a few letters he wrote to the King of Spain for more missionaries to the Philippines!
Mr. Langob contends in his article posting that Diego de Herrera was a martyr, and he is regarded as such by their local Church. Fr. P however tells me a funny story that was told him, in turn, by the late Bishop Molina. It is said that in Catanduanes, there was a chief whose wife had difficulties giving birth. They were about to perform a Caesarean operation on the pregnant woman when Fray Diego intervened and told them not to go on with it. The chief agreed, but then he said that if the woman died, Diego de Herrera will die with her. To cut the long story short, the woman did die. And so Fray Diego de Herrera was also put to death by the chief.
Was Fray Diego de Herrera a martyr for the faith? I, too would like to know.