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November 20, 1645, the University of Santo Tomas was Elevated to University Status by Pope Innocent X

The University of Santo Tomas (UST) is the oldest existing university in Asia. In terms of student population, it is the largest Catholic university in the world in a single campus. The institution was established through the initiative of Bishop Miguel de Benavides, O.P., third Archbishop of Manila.

The University of Santo Tomas was founded on April 28, 1611. With the original campus located in Intramuros, the Walled City of Manila, UST was first called Colegio de Nuestra Señora del Santisimo Rosario, and later renamed Colegio de Santo Tomas, in memory of the foremost Dominican Theologian, St. Thomas Aquinas. On November 20, 1645, Pope Innocent X elevated the college to a university.

Originally, UST was a school intended to prepare young men for the priesthood, but the people’s thirst for education transformed it into a university.

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In 1785, King Charles III of Spain gave UST the title “Royal,” and on September 17, 1902, Pope Leo XIII in his constitution Quae Mari Sinico made UST a “Pontifical University.” In 1947, Pope Pius XI bestowed on UST the title of “The Catholic University of the Philippines.”

Notably, UST is one of the most venerable institutions of higher learning in the world, having graduated prominent people like

  • Dr. Jose Rizal, 
  • Apolinario Mabini, 
  • Frs. Mariano Gomez, Jose Burgos, and Jacinto Zamora, the martyrs; 
  • Presidents Manuel Luis Quezon, Sergio Osmeña, Jose P. Laurel, and Diosdado Macapagal.

Many distinguished dignitaries have visited UST, among them

  • Pope Paul VI, who came on November 28, 1970;
  • King Juan Carlos of Spain in 1974 and 1995;
  • Mother Teresa of Calcutta in January 1977 and November 1984; and
  • Pope John Paul II in February 1981 and January 1995.


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