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Image by Saint John's Seminary
Martyr's Blood
Rico and Alexa love each other dearly but will a Machiavellian adversary destroy their love?

Clang! Clang! Clang!

A loud sound of the bell disturbs the tranquility of the surroundings. It is already five in the morning. Almost everybody is starting to turn on their dormitory lights, some are fixing their beds while others are busy washing up for, they have to attend the daily Mass and Morning Prayer in their seminary chapel.

"Aaaaaaahh!" Rico yawns while fixing his bed. He is in a hurry for he is the assigned reader in the Mass. Rico Fontanilla is a second-year theology student at St. James Seminary.  As a man, he can be characterized as good-looking, one who stands six foot one with a porcelain complexion, intelligent but impulsive and yet mysterious looking because of his gloomy, deep-set eyes.

"Rico, hurry up!” called Leandro, a batchmate and friend. “Father Sebastian is already in the chapel and the mass is about to begin in five minutes."

After the mass, they prepare themselves for school at San Benito Schools of Theology in Quezon City. Their theology department is located in the University of St. James, a Catholic University run by the Order of St. James, instituted during the Spanish epoch.

"I will not go home with you after the class,” Rico whispered. “I need to do some research for my report in Christology."

"Ok! But are you sure you do not want me to go with you?” Leandro replied. “Besides, I am free now.”

"I appreciate your concern,” Rico quipped, “but I can do it on my own."

Rico seems uneasy like a thief observing his possible victim. He brings out his mobile phone and ostensibly tries to call somebody who seems to be out of reach. He looks irritated and bored. After an hour of waiting, a beautiful woman enters the cafeteria and waves her hand. She carries a bag, which appears to be full of books and teaching material. Rico immediately recognizes Alexa and walks toward her.

"Why you are so late?” Rico asks. “It is almost six in the evening."

"I am sorry! We had an emergency meeting this afternoon,” Alexa replied. “I could not inform you since I left my mobile phone at home."

They search for an unnoticeable yet comfortable corner in the cafeteria. Alexa asks Rico why he did not go back to the seminary instead of waiting for her. It is late and Rico needs to be at the seminary before seven in the evening. Nevertheless, Rico answers that he cannot go home without seeing her on their special day.

"Happy anniversary Alexa," Rico says, handing her a little box in a pink wrapper. She unwraps the gift and finds a beautiful necklace.

"Thank you for always making me feel so special," Alexa says, her smile like the crescent moon in the dark sky. Rico holds Alexa's hands and gazes at her face, as though promising her that he would never leave her, no matter what happens.


It is nine o'clock in the evening when Rico returns to the seminary. He carefully climbs the stairs to the seventeenth-century seminary.

"Where did you go my son?" asks Father Sebastian. He is the Prior and Master of the seminary. He is a man of God who is gentle with his words and is respectful of others. He has a deep heart for the poor, and his wisdom is seen in his words and deeds. However, he always shows favor to Rico, which makes his colleagues tag him as partial.

"I am sorry Father. I need extra hours to finish my research."

"Did you meet her again?" Father Sebastian asks.

Rico remains silent.

"Do not worry, my son,” the priest adds. “I understand you but try to conquer that feeling of yours if you want to be friar of this community."

Father Sebastian is like Rico’s foster father. He had discovered baby Rico in a garbage can at the seminary, when he had been newly assigned as a member of the formation team.  Out of compassion, he had taken the boy in and after seeking and being given permission had adopted the boy. Because of Father Sebastian's upbringing, Rico had also decided to become a priest like him.

"Is this the behavior of a second-year theology student, a religious man in training to be a priest soon?" Father Saturnino cries out in a colossal voice. Father Saturnino is the superior general of the entire congregation; He is a man of rigidity and hot temperament. For some reason, he hates Rico. He had been the only one who had opposed Rico’s adoption with malevolent hostility.

"If you think that I cannot send you out because of Father Sebastian, you are wrong,” Father Saturnino warned. “I can easily throw you out of this seminary."

After a month, Father Saturnino calls for a council meeting together with Father Sebastian to discuss matters concerning the congregation and the problems of some seminarians.


"Father Sebastian, do not take this personally,” Father Saturinino starts. “The council and I have decided it for the good of the congregation and Rico also…" He reads the written statement signed by the council members and Father Saturnino himself. It is a letter of the expulsion of Rico Fontanilla as a temporary professed brother of their congregation for committing the indecent act of unfaithfulness to his temporary vow of chastity which would mar the long-established dignity and reputation of the entire congregation. Father Sebastian vociferously contests this proclamation made by the council and Father Saturnino, stating that they did not have any concrete evidence to prove their allegation and it is unjust for Rico. According to him, Rico is trying his best to be a good seminarian. Instead of sending him out, they must try to help him achieve his dreams and not be the judge of his weaknesses. Father Saturnino angrily warns Father Sebastian that he would be implicated for disobedience if he continues to contest their decision.

After the meeting, Father Sebastian calls Rico to his office.

Knock! Knock!

"Enter my son," says Father Sebastian.

"Did I do something wrong, father?" Rico asks.

"No, my son,” the priest replies. “It is just a misunderstanding."

"Is there any problem, Father?" Rico asks again.

“Father Saturnino and the council informed me that you will be temporarily sent out from the seminary," the priest sadly explains.

Upon hearing this, Rico turns very pale, his body breaking out in cold sweat.

"Do not worry, my son,” the priest reassures Rico. “I will fix it. I will try to convince them to reconsider my request of rolling back the decision.

Rico remains speechless and perplexed. He runs out of the office and goes to the chapter room where Father Saturnino usually drinks his coffee.

"Has Father Sebastian told you that you are no longer a part of this institution?" Father Saturnino asks with a snicker.

"Why do you hate me so much?” Rico asks. “Why do you want to destroy my vocation, my dreams, my family and my life in the congregation?"

Father Saturnino shrugs his shoulders indifferently, malevolently pointing out that Rico was a bastard, who had been abandoned as a child and deserved to be abandoned by the congregation. ‘you should be abandoned forever,” he says, with a look of evil gloating on his flaccid face.

Upon hearing these words, Rico grabs a knife on the table, his face filled with anger and his voice shivering.

"I will kill you!"

Rico attacks Father Saturnino with fury. Luckily for Father Saturino, Father Sebastian had decided to follow Rico and reassure him about his future, so he is able to intervene and stop Rico from committing a sin that his anger had pushed him into.

"Please, my son, do not stain your hands with the blood of the servant of God," Father Sebastian says, holding the trembling hands of Rico in a tight, reassuring grip.

Rico throws the knife distractedly and stares at Father Saturnino with fire in his eyes.

"You will pay for destroying my life," Rico warns.

Rico immediately packs all his belongings and leaves the seminary. Father Sebastian tries to persuade him not to leave but it is as though he has become deaf to all pleas. The next morning, Rico’s story spreads like wildfire among the entire congregation.

"From now on, you will not allow your daughter, Alexa, to meet Rico,” Father Saturnino declares to Olivia, Alexa’s mother and Father Saturino’s cook.

"Is there any problem with Rico?” asks a bewildered Olivia.  “I think he is a good man."

"He is a killer. Last night he tried to end my life, but my life was spared by the Grace of God.

Father Saturnino warns Alexa also against Rico asking her not to meet Rico as he is a bad influence.


The inhabitants of the seminary eventually forget the incident and go back to their life and its chores. Neither Father Sebastian nor Alexa seem to know where he is. One afternoon, almost a month after this incident, Leandro goes to Father Saturnino’s room to remind him that he has a mass in the parish. He notices that the door is ajar. But as he pushes the door open, his eyes are met with a horrific sight. He is shocked to see Father Saturnino’s body lying on the floor, covered in blood.

"Help! Somebody, help me!" Leandro screams. The fathers and some of the seminarians rush to the room on hearing his cry for help. They are all shocked to see the blood splattered body of Father Saturnino. Father Carlo, a nurse by profession, immediately checks his vital signs. With a deep sigh, he whispers: “He is dead.” Someone calls the police and soon the seminary is filled with police officers investigating the brutal crime that happened in the place of God.

"Do you know any person who has hidden rage against Father Saturnino?" asks the police officer.

"I do not know,” Father Sebastian replies. “He is a very rigid and hot-tempered man but I do not know anyone who is against him."

"Maybe it is Rico!" one of the seminarians exclaims.

Father Sebastian is reduced to silence when he hears Rico’s name. Later, the investigators ask him about Rico and the incident the previous month. But father Sebastian has nothing to say.  

Upon learning of Father Saturnino’s death, Rico returns to attend the wake of the slain priest. Although he knows he is the primary suspect and might be arrested, he feels it his duty to pay respect to his former superior general and to clear his name.

"Rico is here, arrest him!" one of the priests exclaims hysterically.

With no other clue or suspect, the police officers seize Rico. They check to see if he is armed. "Stop doing that,” Rico says, “I am not a criminal. I am only here to pay my last respects to Father Saturinino and clear my name of all these allegations."

“Father, you know that I haven’t committed this heinous crime, right?" pleads Rico. 

"I know, my son,” the priest assures him. “I will do my best to clear your name. Just trust in God."


After some long-winded questioning, the investigators conclude that Rico is the only one who has a clear-cut motive to kill the priest. So, they take him into their custody. Some of the investigators continue their investigations at the crime scene, searching for evidence to build a foolproof case against Rico.  One of them find a broken necklace belonging to a woman. After a series of laboratory and fingerprinting tests, they find three fingerprints on the necklace-of Rico, Father Saturinino, and an unidentified person. The latter, the investigators are sure will lead them to the murderer.

That evening, a tired and forlorn Olivia returns home.

"Alexa, I am home. Have you prepared our dinner?"

There is only silence.

Olivia looks for Alexa but does not find her. She assumes that her daughter is in her room.

Knock! knock!

“Are you there, darling?"

Nobody answers her. Worried, she gets a duplicate key to open the door. When she finally unlocks the door and looks in, she falls back with a shriek of horror and pain. Alexa, her only daughter, the darling of her life is hanging from the ceiling.

"Alexa!" she screams in a pained voice, even as she rushes in to check if her child is alive.  

“Why did you take your life my darling Alexa?” cries Olivia. Even in the midst of her bewilderment and shock, she notices a letter propped up against the pillows on Alexa’s bed. With trembling hands she unfolds the letter.

Dearest Mother,

Mother, I am thankful to you for raising me as a good woman even though you had to do it single-handedly. I love you Mama that is why I had to do this. When I was fifteen years old, remember when you were in the hospital for almost a month because of your kidney problem? We did not have anything to pay for your hospital bills and to support your medications. I went to Father Saturnino and asked him if he could lend us some money and I promised him that I would do anything for him. Do you know what that evil man did? He gave me the money in exchange for my virginity. I accepted his vile suggestion because that was the only way I could have saved you. He even promised to provide us a house, help me to study, and continue supporting you in your medical needs if I continued being the secret woman of his life.

When I learnt that Rico, my only love, was kicked-out of the seminary because of Father Saturnino’s wrath, I tried to beg him to re-admit him to the seminary. However, he did not listen to my pleas and instead warned me that he would harm us and destroy our lives if he found me seeing Rico. That was the time I decided to end his wickedness. I came to him the other day to fulfill my plan. I planned seduce him because I knew that he was weak in the flesh. When I came to his room, I was surprised to see his bloodied and lifeless body lying on the floor. I tried to check if he was still alive. I noticed that he was still breathing. He asked me to help him, but I did not know what to do. Upon hearing someone calling his name, I tried to run out of his room. However, he tried to stop me and grabbed me by the neck, my necklace broke in his hands. My soul was already dead when he disgraced my purity and dignity.

Please tell Rico how much I loved him. I hope that he can fulfill his dreams and be a good and holy priest someday. Tell him that I wanted to be with him for the rest of my life, but destiny has other plans. I know that you are safe, mama, with Rico and Father Sebastian. I am now leaving, mama, but my love will always be with you. You made so many sacrifices for me, now it is my turn.  I am finally free of the demands of an evil man!

~Love Alexa

Father Sebastian is alone in the seminary chapel.

"Lord, make us strong against all these sufferings; I never thought that things will end in this manner. I could no longer bear his wickedness, especially to Alex. I only want Rico to live a fulfilled and meaningful life. I do not want anyone to take this one away from him for he has nothing but this.  I decided to put an end to all of this. I will face the consequences of my actions, so help me God."


Image by Christin Hume

Jherwin P Hermosa, MA, holds the academic rank of Assistant Professor 1 at the Laguna State Polytechnic University, San Pablo City Campus. He has also published books and scientific articles in international circulations. His research interest are mostly on the social sciences, philosophy and educational management.

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