Saints of the Day – Blessed Jerome Hermosilla and Companions

detail from a prayer card commemorating the beatification of the Martyrs of Tonkin; artist unknown, 1906; photographed on 18 June 2008 by Alex Maynardo Castro; swiped from Wikimedia CommonsArticle

Died 1861; beatified in 1906 by Pope Pius X.

Little is known of the early lives of Bishop Jerome Hermosilla or Bishop Valentine Berrio-Ochoa. That they were chosen for the Oriental mission is evidence that they were courageous and resourceful men, probably adept in language.

Jerome was a native of La Calzada, in Old Castile (Spain), who after his profession in the Dominican Order, was sent to Manila, where he was ordained priest and, in 1828, appointed to the mission of East Tonkin. He succeeded Blessed Ignatius Delgado as vicar-apostolic and was consecrated bishop in April 1841. Like the early office of pontiff, this position was practically synonymous with martyrdom; several of those appointed as bishop of Tonkin did not even live to be consecrated.

Bishop Hermosilla made it his first task to gather the relics of his two immediate predecessors. Bishop Delgado had been thrown into the sea, but some of the relics were recovered by a fisherman. These and the remains of other martyrs were carefully preserved by Hermosilla, who also committed to paper their passios according to the accounts of eye witnesses. This took real courage – to carefully record the terrible tortures that he well knew were awaiting him.

The twenty years of Bishop Hermosilla’s life in Tonkin were comprised of constant heroism, flight, and unswerving faith. He had to hold his flock together, while some of his finest assistants fell at his side. His work had to be accomplished entirely in secret. There was always the possibility that a recent convert or his pagan family might betray the hiding place of the priest, perhaps under torture. It was a weak Christian who finally betrayed Hermosilla and Valentine.

The two bishops had been hidden on board a ship en route to a place where they were needed to give the sacraments. The betrayer identified them to the ship’s captain, who summoned the soldiers. A group of Christians almost succeeded in rescuing them, but they were betrayed a second time and placed in chains. Three hundred men were sent to escort them to the capital.

When the arrived, they saw that they would be required to step upon a crucifix laid in the road. Heavily manacled and weak from torture, the two bishops fought so vigorously against committing this sacrilege that the soldiers finally relented and removed the cross. Shortly thereafter the bishops, two other Spanish Dominicans, and a number of native Christians were led in triumphant procession to the place of their execution, where they were put in cages. Christian witnesses reported that the martyrs were so rapt in prayer that they seemed unaware of the screaming crowds, trumpeting elephants, and other noisy animals surrounding them. In turn, each of the martyrs was bound, tied to stakes in the ground, and beheaded. Their remains were guarded for several days to prevent other Christians from claiming their relics.

Peter Almató, OP, was born at Sassera, diocese of Vich, Spain. He became a Dominican and was sent to the Philippines then to Ximabara under Bishop Hermosilla with whom he was beheaded.

Also beheaded with the above beatae was Blessed Valentine, who was born in 1827 at Ellorio, diocese of Vitoria, Spain. After his profession as a Dominican also went to the Philippines then to Tonkin as a bishop titular and vicar-apostolic. Due to a number of miracles attributed to Bishop Valentine Berrio-Ochoa, his cause has been separated from the group. He was beatified in 1909, rather than 1906, and since 1952 canonization has been sought for him (Benedictines, Dorcy).

MLA Citation

  • Katherine I Rabenstein. Saints of the Day, 1998. CatholicSaints.Info. 7 August 2020. Web. 26 November 2020. <>