Andrés de Urdaneta had an adventurous life that included a voyage around the world under the most difficult circumstances.
Subsequent to that achievement, he joined the Order of Saint Augustine – the first man who was ever a Catholic priest after sailing around the world.
On this 1525 voyage, only one of the original seven ships survived.
A Spaniard named Jean Sebastian Elcano had been the second in command of the voyage of Garcia Jofre de Loaysa, and Urdaneta was his secretary or servant.
Urdaneta had spent much time in Timor and East Indonesia. Interested in navigation, he learned the local language and studied the tides.
When he sailed to Portugal, customs officials confiscated all his papers, because navigational information of Portuguese sea routes in the hands of a Spaniard was not acceptable to them.
He also was placed in prison by the Portuguese, but escaped over the border into Spain and rewrote his adventures in the East.
He then settled in Mexico, and there became a member of the Order of Saint Augustine.
Urdaneta found a sailing route from the Philippines to Mexico in 1565. Until the year 1821 when Spanish rule in Mexico ended, this route was extensively used by the sailing ships called Manila galleons.
When Andrés de Urdaneta and four other Augustinians landed at Cebú in the Philippines in the year 1565, they at once began a very successful Christian mission (although Urdaneta himself was there only briefly).
The first houses of the Augustinians in the Philippines were established at Cebú, in 1565, and at Manila in 1571.
Andrés de Urdaneta had an adventurous life that covered everything from military service in Italy, escaping from a prison in Portugal, visiting the royal palace at Valladolid in Spain, working for the church in Mexico, opening the first church built in the Philippines, and making a voyage around the world under the most difficult circumstances.
He was born at Villafranca, in Guipúzcoa, which is within the Basque area of Spain, in the year 1498, which was only six years after Christopher Columbus had crossed the Atlantic Ocean and reached America.
An orphan, he initially studied Latin and philosophy, but then chose a military life.
Fighting for Spain in the Italian wars, he had been promoted to the rank of captain.
Returning to Spain he took up the study of mathematics and astronomy, which gave him an inclination for a life on the sea.
This induced him to accompany Garcia Jofre de Loaysa (or Loaiza) in an expedition to the Molucca Islands in the East Indies. They voyage sailed from Coruna, on the north eastern tip of Spain, in 1525 (when Urdaneta was 27 years of age).