Descendants to bring slain Jesuit priest’s skull to Guam


BY DAVID ATIENZA For the Umatuna Si Yu’os 

Late this month the skull of a Jesuit priest killed on Guam more than 300 years ago will be brought back to the island on which he died.

Father Manuel de Solórzano, the Jesuit superior of the early Spanish mission, was killed in a clash between local forces and the defenders of the mission. The clash, which occurred in 1684, was the last and deadliest of the violent encounters that took place during the early mission period.

Father Solorzano’s body was buried near the site of the original church in Hagatna, but the skull was sent back to his family in Spain.

The priest’s skull, accompanied by three descendants, is scheduled to arrive on Sunday, Dec. 28 and will be on the island for one week.

The Archdiocese of Agana will celebrate this return with a series of public events highlighting the conflict that followed the arrival of the faith to the Marianas.

One of the descendants of Fr. Solórzano, Manuel López Casquete, had contacted Fr. Francis Hezel, SJ on August of 2013 after discovering his writings about Blessed Diego Luis de San Vitores and the history of the Spanish mission in the Marianas on the Internet. Manuel was searching for information about the humans remains he received as an inheritance.

On December 30, a roundtable discussion on the “lights and shadows” of the early mission is scheduled to be held at the Dulce Nombre de Maria Cathedral-Basilica. Another discussion on the clash of cultures — Spanish and Chamorro — is scheduled for Jan. 3 at the University of Guam.

In a final tribute to all who have died during this important period in our local history, Archbishop Anthony Sablan Apuron, OFM Cap. will preside at a celebration of faith to be held after the Sunday Masses on Jan. 4. The service will acknowledge the turmoil that was stirred up at the advent of Christianity and will seek reconciliation.

David Atienza and Father Francis Hezel, SJ are members of the Archdiocese of Agana’s Committee for the Canonization of Blessed Diego Luis de San Vitores.