Blessed Jose Maria de Manila was born on September 5, 1880 in the old city of Manila when the Philippines was still under the Spanish rule and government. His parents were Senor Son Eugenio Saz-Orozco, who was serving as Mayor of the City of Manila, and Dona Felisa Mortera Camacho. His parents were both Spanish nationals. During his baptism, he was given the name of his father, Eugenio, a name that would be changed to Jose Maria de Manila when he entered the Order of the Friars Minor Capuchin (OFMCap.) in Spain. His father was the last mayor of Manila during the last years of the Spanish government that ended in 1898.
He studied at the Ateneo de Manila and San Juan de Letran. He finished his secondary schooling in 1895 at the University of Santo Tomas while remaining “alumno interno” at San Juan de Letran. As a student, Jose Maria used to get the grade of “Excellent” that showed his high intellectual capacity.
He went to Spain in 1896 for the purpose of making the necessary higher studies in preparation for a career. After a while, the whole family returned to Spain just before the end of the Spanish rule in the Philippines.
It was in Spain that he decided to join the Capuchin Order. He entered the novitiate on October 2, 1904 and made its temporary profession after a year on the feast of St. Francis of Assisi, on October 4, 1905. He was ordained to the priesthood on November 30, 1910 and obtained the faculty of preaching on December 24, 1910.
Blessed Jose Maria de Manila always longed to go back as a missionary to the Philippines, his country of birth, to serve his countrymen and bring them closer to God. But God had a different design for him: to become a martyr of faith and love.
Fr. Jose Maria de Manila received the palm of martyrdom on August 17, 1936 during the religious persecution in Spain. His last words before he died were: “Long live Christ the King!”