HomeThe Journal of Historyvol. 61 no. 1 (2015)

Foreigners in Vigan: The Relations between the American Bishops and the SVD Missionaries and Their Contributions to Education and the Formation of the Diocesan Clergy

Michael G. Layugan



With the transition of sovereignty from Spanish to American governance of the Philippines, a change in the administration of the dioceses in the Roman Catholic Church also took place. American bishops were appointed to administer the vacant Sees which were formerly held by Spanish bishops. Vigan in Ilocos Sur was under the jurisdiction of the Diocese of Nueva Segovia. When the last Spanish bishop of the Diocese of Nueva Segovia resigned, an American was appointed bishop for the diocese. Vigan had three American bishops. Each of these bishops was instrumental in the mission of a German religious missionary congregation whose pioneer missionaries arrived in the Philippines in 1909. The Divine Word Missionaries, also known as SVDs, worked in the Abra mission. After the General Visitation of the Superior General in 1921, they extended their missionary commitment to Vigan. The SVDs who came from different countries also contributed in a significant way to the education of the youth in Vigan and its environs and in the formation of the Filipino Diocesan Clergy. During the incipient years of the SVDs in Vigan, they administered what was then known as the Colegio Seminario in Vigan. This set-up later on changed with the establishment of two distinct institutions: Colegio de la Inmaculada Concepcion and Seminario de la Inmaculada Concepcion. This paper looks into the relations between the American bishops and the Divine Word missionaries through an examination of extant archival materials. It also features the contributions of the SVDs in Vigan to the local church as well as to the region through the administration of these two institutions.