By 1945, after unimaginable loss of life and property, the Second World War was at long last nearing its end. But the fighting was still killing people all over the world, and the Columban Fathers would not escape this bloodshed.
In February 1945, the Philippines in general and the capital city of Manila in particular were a central battleground, as Allied troops and Filipino guerillas battled to defeat the occupying Japanese forces. On February 10, 1945, Japanese military personnel surrounded the Columban parish in the Malate area of Manila, due to suspicions that the Columbans were sheltering anti-Japanese Filipino fighters there.
Among the prisoners they took were Columban Fathers John Heneghan, Patrick Kelly, Joseph P. Monaghan and Peter Fallon. It would be the last time these four Columbans were ever seen alive and their bodies have never been found.
A few days later, on February 13, 1945, a shell, likely fired by U.S. troops, killed Columban Father John D. Lalor, while he was carrying out medical duties in the clinic/air raid shelter of the Malate parish.
About a year and a half earlier, in July 1943, Japanese military police had interrogated, arrested and imprisoned Columban Father Francis V. Douglas, who was stationed at the Filipino parish of Pililla, on charges of aiding Filipino guerillas.
Father Douglas died while in the custody of the military police after they subjected him to torture. These six Columban Fathers who died in the Philippines during World War II have become known as the “Malate Martyrs,” and are commemorated in Columban books, articles, artwork, and other platforms.
Their courage in the face of the depredations of warfare has inspired Columbans and the general public for decades.