The Pontifical and Royal Catholic University of the Philippines. Asia's Oldest University.
The University of Santo Tomas is a Catholic university in the Philippines run by the Order of Preachers. It was established in April 28, 1611, from the library of the late Fray Miguel de Benavidez O.P., then Archbishop of Manila. Formerly the Colegio de Nuestra Señora del Santisimo Rosario and later renamed Colegio de Santo Tomas, it was elevated by Pope Innocent X to a university on November 20, 1645 in his brief, In Supreminenti, making it the second university in the Philippines and in Asia (after the Universidad de San Ignacio, which closed in the 1770s).
Its complete name includes the title The Pontifical and Royal Catholic University of the Philippines. It was given the title "Royal" by King Charles III of Spain on March 7, 1785; "Pontifical" by Pope Leo XIII on Semptember 17, 1902 in his constitution, Quae Mari Sinico, and the appelative "The Catholic Univerisity of the Philippines" by Pope Pius XII on April 27, 1947.
The University was formerly located within the walled city of Intramuros in Manila. It was started by the Spanish Archbishop of Manila in the early 17th century as a seminary for aspiring young priests, taking its name and inspiration from St. Thomas Aquinas. In 1871, it began offering degrees in Medicine and Pharmacy, the first in colonized Asia. At the beginning of the 20th century, with the growing student population, the Dominican fathers bought land at the Sulucan Hills in Sampaloc, Manila and built its 22-hectare campus there in 1927 with the inauguration of its Main Building (said to be the first earthquake-proof building in the Philippines). Also that year, it began accepting female enrollees. In the last four centuries, the university grew into a full-fledged institution of higher learning, conferring degrees in law, medicine and various academic letters. The University has graduated Philippine national heroes, presidents, and even saints (St. Lorenzo Ruiz and his Dominican companions).
During World War II, the Japanese converted the campus into a concentration camp for civilians, foreigners and POWs. After the war, the university resumed its mission and continues to be one of the more prestigious universities in the country.
In recognition of the noble achievements of this institution, a number of important dignitaries have officially visited the University, among them, during the last three decades: His Holiness Pope Paul VI on November 28, 1970; His Royal Highness King Juan Carlos I of Spain in 1974 and 1995; Mother Teresa of Calcutta in January 1977 and again in November 1984; Pope John Paul II on February 18, 1981 and January 13, 1995.