President Quezon

President Quezon


Published in the  Records of the American Catholic Historical Society of Philadelphia, Vol. 55, No. 4 (December, 1944), pp. 382-384 (3 pages)
“Blessed are they that mourn, because they shall be comforted.”

These were almost the very last words spoken to the late President of the Philippines, Manuel L. Quezon. He woke up that morning feeling fine and cheerful. He asked his doctor to read the Bible to him, as was his custom. But this time he himself picked the chapter- Our Lord’s Sermon on the Mount… “blessed are the poor in spirit, because theirs is the kingdom of Heaven . .. blessed are the meek, because they shall possess the land . . . blessed are they that mourn, because they shall be comforted. . . .”

He needed comfort–this man with a big heart and a giant, unfinished dream. He asked the doctor to turn on the radio. Over the radio that morning came the news: His old friend MacArthur had landed at Sansapor, 600 miles from the Philippines. His face lit up with joy . . . he waved his hand in triumph, his eyes sparkled as with the light of dawn. Six hundred miles and freedom will dawn at last. He was not going to see that dawn. He was to die that morning. But he died gently, peacefully as one who knew he had fought a good fight, he had won the race, he had kept the faith.

He was a man of faith, strong, uncompromising faith. In youth he strayed away from it, but when through God’s mercy he came back to it, he was never ashamed to give that faith fully and to the hilt. Weaklings have found their faith an obstacle to vaulting ambition, and belief in prayer the mark of a dupe. To this man prayer was the very source of strength, and faith the secret path to nobler and broader vision. That is why perhaps this man, who walked with kings never lost the common touch. Faith gave him eyes to see even beneath the gaunt, misshapen figure of the forgotten tao, the dignity of the human soul, the freedom that belongs to the children of God. That is why he championed his cause, not to the detriment of the rich, but for the mutual happiness of the rich and the poor, of capital and labor alike. Without fear or favor he stood four square for the human rights of the workingman. If a slogan could describe his administration, that slogan would be “Social Justice.” If he could have had his way he would have given a farm and a house to every farmer in the land.

For, this was the distinctive mark of the man: he had a big heart and he was utterly sincere. He had his faults, and who has none? But smallness of heart and double-dealing were never one of them. Some have accused him of ambition and love of power. But even his bitterest enemies would be the first one to wish to God there were more men among us, steeled with the same ambition, fired with the same old dream for which this man lived and died; the happiness and freedom of the Philippines. This was his consuming ambition, and the mette of his life, a motto chosen for him by his own beloved wife was: Non sibi, sed Patriae Country before self.
It is deeply tragic that we should lose him at a time when we need his leadership most. It is almost ironic that he who for the past thirty years has led our country’s fight for freedom, so brilliantly, so fearlessly should die in exile on the very eve of our country’s liberation. But if there be any man who could teach us the spirit of joyful resignation to the Will of God, it is the man whose memory we honor today. Throughout fifteen long months of illness, his daily prayer was for strength to bear his cross manfully, willingly. No, it was not easy for a man like him to lie in bed quietly, peacefully while bis very heart was with the armies of freedom, storming the bloody approaches to the Philippines. With God’s grace, however, he bore it all patiently, willingly. It was so unlike him. He was so full of life, so full of fight. He had vibrated to so many a noble cause; the dashing youth who fought against Americans in the jungles of Bataan–the impassioned orator pleading the cause of freedom in the halls of Congress, the strong hand reaching out for the protection of the common man, the dynamic leader harnessing our country’s resources toward the goal of national prosperity. Yes, he was so full of life.
And yet somehow, to those of us who knew him well –more as a friend than as the President–his last ailing days were his best. For Calvary is the only real test of manhood. This man bore his cross and met his calvary in the invincible spirit of the Master: Father, Thy Will be done. It was in this spirit that shortly before his death, he told his wife: “I want you and the children to be brave and to be resigned to the Will of God. I am happy now. I have asked Our Lord to give me some more months of suffering, to make atonement for my sins.”
That was a perfect prayer, and though he never mentioned it, I know, that he was praying for you and for me and for eighteen million Filipinos across the ocean, who mourn his death. I am sure that in this hour of trial, he will not abandon us, but that he will continue to be our country’s better angel, and that when our armies march back through the streets of Manila, his unconquered spirit will still lead the way. May God in His mercy give him eternal rest.

Telegram of condolence to Mrs. Quezon from the White House

THE WHITE HOUSE, Washington D. C., August 1, 1944

Mrs. Manuel L. Quezon, Saranac Lake, N. Y.


3338 Massachusetts Avenue, Washington, D. C., August 5, 1944

Mrs. Manuel L. Quezon, The Shoreham Hotel, Washington, D. C.
My dear Mrs. Quezon,

By His Eminence, the Cardinal Secretary of State, I have been instructed to convey to you the august condolences of His Holiness, Pope Pius XII on the death of your distinguished husband. With these condolences goes the Apostolic Benediction of the Sovereign Pontiff, as a pledge of divine comfort and solace in this hour of trial for you and your bereaved family. His Eminence, Cardinal Maglione, has asked me to tender you likewise the assurance of his own personal sympathy in your loss.

With sentiments of esteem and with every best wish I remain,
Sincerely yours in Christ,
(SGD.) A. G. CICOGNANI, Archbishop of Laodicea, Apostolio Delegate

From The Tablet, Brooklyn Catholic Weekly, August 12, 1944


N.C.W.C. News Service War Correspondent

Vatican City, Aug. 5 (By Radio)-Most Rev. Francis J. Spellman, Archbishop of New York, was celebrant at a Pontifical Mass of Requiem today in the American Church of Santa Susanna for the late Manuel L. Quezon, President of the Philippine Commonwealth.

Rt. Rev. Msgr. Walter 8. Carroll, American priest attached to the Vatican, assisted His Excellency; Rev. Ferdinand Lutz, C.SS.R., was deacon, and Rev. Patrick J. Ryan, U. B. Army chaplain, acted as subdeacon. Rt. Rev. Msg. Salvatore Capoferri, Papal Master of Ceremonies, acted in that capacity at the Mass. The Sistine Choir sang under the personal direction of Rt. Rev. Msgr. Lorenzo Perosi.

Present in the sanctuary were Very Rev. Mag. Joseph F. MeGeough, Rt. Rev. Magr. Francis J. Brennan, Rev. Martin T. Gilligan, American priests attached to the Vatican, and Rev. Patrick Murray, Superior General of the Redemptorist Congregation.

Students at the Latin American College in Rome from Mexico, Puerto Rico, Ecuador, Colombia, Paraguay, Peru, Cuba, Venezuela, and Argentina, wearing blue sashes, served as altar boys.

Col. Harold Tittmann, American Charge d’Affaires at the Vatican, and William O’Dwyer, chief of the economie section, Allied Control Commission in Italy, were included in the congregation, with high officers and Filipinos serving in the U. S. Army.

Rev. Vincent MeCormick, S.J. preached the sermon.

Pacifico Ortiz
Author: Pacifico Ortiz
(1913-1983) Personal chaplain of President Manuel Quezon. From Cantilan, Surigao, member of the Society of Jesus. Ateneo de Manila's First Filipino President.

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