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Photograph of a seated priest wearing a long black cassock.

Padre José Torres Palomo (1836–1919)

Born in Guam, José Torres Palomo was educated at the San Carlos Seminary in Cebu, the Philippines, and ordained into the Catholic priesthood in 1859. An important representative of Guam’s people, he was the first CHamoru Roman Catholic priest. Locals called him Pale’ Enko’, and he had a leading role 

in local affairs, advocating for fair rule. Fluent in six languages, he functioned as a diplomat for Guam during the transfer of colonial authority from Spain to the United States. He introduced William Safford, Guam’s first lieutenant governor, to the manak’kilo, the upper-class mestizos (people of Spanish and Indigenous descent) of Hagåtña, and assisted Safford in compiling a CHamoru dictionary. 

On Palomo’s fiftieth anniversary in the priesthood, Pope Pius X named him Papal Chamberlain for his efforts to keep the Catholic faith in Guam, where U.S. administrators had challenged it. He became the first CHamoru priest to receive the honor.

Unidentified photographer
Date unknown
11.5 x 7.3 cm (4 ½ x 2 9/10 in.)
The Richard F. Taitano Micronesia Area Collection Research Center