Descendent brings Jesuit skull back to Guam

Posted on Jan 08 2015

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HAGATNA, Guam (AP)—A descendant of a Spanish Jesuit missionary, who was killed on Guam in 1684, has traveled from Spain to Guam in the spirit of prayer, reconciliation and friendship.

Nearly 330 years after a Chamorro uprising killed Father Manuel de Solórzano, his descendant, Manuel López Casquete, brought the missionary’s skull and pages of original letters he wrote while on Guam to the island.

University of Guam anthropology Professor David Atienza, who has been conducting research about Solórzano, said three machete cuts in the skull are visible, which are consistent with accounts of his death.

Other Jesuit missionaries, who were on Guam at the time of his death, sent Solórzano’s skull back to Spain.

Casquete, who arrived on Guam Sunday, returned to the island to retrace his ancestor’s footsteps. Academic researchers Andres Oyola Fabian and Jose Maria Oyola Perez, also from Spain, are accompanying Casquete on his trip.

“We came here not to recall wounds, but to heal them,” Casquete said. “I cannot feel hate, but in fact, the exact opposite.”

Hope Cristobal, who facilitated a press conference at the archdiocese’s Chancery office, said the skull’s arrival on Guam marks the first time in island history that a relic shows how Chamorro people fought back during the Spanish-Chamorro War, which began in 1671.

The only accounts of the war have been from Jesuit letters, Atienza said.

The skull will be on display at several events during the week, including: a round-table discussion at the Cathedral-Basilica, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. on Friday, and a round table at UOG on Saturday, from 11 a.m. until 1 p.m. The public is invited to attend all events.

Bringing Casquete, Fabian and Perez to Guam has been in the works since August 2013, Atienza said.

The trip has already been an emotional one, Casquete said.

“(Returning to Guam with the skull) is a very important moment,” he said. “It was a very emotional moment when we were landing. We want to make part of a history bigger than us.”

Casquete, Fabian and Perez will be visiting Guam until Jan. 5, 2015, and when they leave, Solórzano’s skull will return to Spain with them.

According to a release by the archdiocese’s Chancery office, taking pictures and videos of the skull is prohibited.

Restrictions by the International Council of Museums, the American Alliance of Museums, and Guam’s State Historical Preservation Office prevent photos and videos of human remains.

Jun Dayao Dayao
This post is published under the Contributing Author. He/she does not normally work for Saipan Tribune but contributes for a specific topic or series.

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