Manila Cathedral or more formally known as Manila Metropolitan Cathedral Basilica hold a lot of history more than being a cathedral. It has struggled for ages, been decreased to ashes as it was consumed with fire, broken down into rubble four times as strong earthquakes hit and was not spared from being bombed in the World War II. Nonetheless, we can go back to the past and see that it might have been crumbled into pieces yet every time it goes down, it rises back stronger and much better; just like the Filipino spirit.
1. The Rich History
The Cathedral started with simple materials which can be found in abundance in the Philippines like bamboo, Nipa and wood. Now it can be seen standing in Plaza de Roma in Intramuros, Manila with an amazing architectural structure which has been modified through the years. But behind this concrete structure lies a very rich history handed from generations to generations.
In 1571, the famous cathedral then known as the Church of Manila was founded by Juan de Vivero, a secular priest. He was sent by the Archbishop of Mexico to introduce Christianity to the newly colonized Philippines.
It was on December 21, 1581 when the church was inaugurated as a cathedral. The first foundation of the structure was made from light materials like wood, Nipa and bamboo. However, in 1583, the cathedral was burnt into ashes when it caught flames from a funeral mass held in San Agustin Church.
In 1581, another structure was made, but this time made of stone hoping that no fire can be able to destroy it again into ashes. Only to find out that eight years later, it will be crumbled by an earthquake.
The third structure which is designed to have three naves and seven chapels was built in 1614 and was again crushed by another earthquake in 1645. After nine years, the fourth cathedral was built and this time the construction took seventeen years before it was finished from 1654 to 1671. A dome was added in 1750 but the years of hard work were again turned to debris when a very powerful earthquake struck in 1863 leaving the cathedral severely damaged.
With a twist of fate, another earthquake hit in 1880 and destroyed the bell tower of the cathedral. It has remained tower less until the construction began in 1958.
The seventh cathedral was then built for 9 years, constructing from 1870 to 1879. After that, a lot has happened to the cathedral and the pilgrims thought it would be smooth sailing. But to everyone's disappointment, it was again decreased into fragments when Manila was bombed in 1945 during World War II.
Finally, in 1954, the present Cathedral was started. The construction was finished in 1958. And on April 27, 1981, papal bull Qoud Ipsum was issued by Pope John Paul II raising the cathedral to a Minor Basilica.
2. Renovations in the 21st century
The bells were then transferred to the ground level in February 2011 so as to prevent another collapse should an earthquake hit the church again. These bells were then replaced with seven Carillon bells in January 2012. It weighs seventeen metric tons and is considered to be the largest bell which is actively used in the Philippines.
Restoration and repair were started in 2012 for earthquake retrofitting and subsidence. Included in the restoration is the addition of Closed Circuit Television or CCTV, interior and exterior LED lightings, flat screen television screens and improved audio-video systems.
During this renovation the cathedral was closed and San Fernando de Dilao Church was selected momentarily to be the official church of the Archdiocese of Manila.
It was opened to the public on April 9, 2014.
3. The Cathedral
Finely carved sculptures are found all around the cathedral both inside and out.
This includes statues of:
• Saint Francis Xavier
• Saint Polycarp
• Saint Rose of Lima
• Saint Andrew
• Saint Jacob
• Saint Anthony the Abott
Life sized statue of the Immaculate Conception can also be found inside together with Saint Peter’s Roman statue copy. Above the statue of the Immaculate Conception is an inscription that says "Tota Pulchra es Maria et Macula Originalis Non est in Te" which can be translated in English as Mary is all-beautiful and the stain of original sin is not in thee.
Most people who visit the church notices the marvelous Latin inscription found in the façade. "Tibi cordi tuo immaculato concredimus nos ac consecramus" is the inscription which can be translated in English as We consecrate to your immaculate hurt and entrust to you Mary for Safekeeping.
Another noticeable feature on the top portion of the entrance of the cathedral is the Grand logo of the Papal Keys and Papal Tiara. Finally, the majestic design of the stained glass windows made by Galo Ocampo tops up everything.
To get to the cathedral you can use different modes of transportation like LRT, jeepney, bus or your own private vehicle. It all depends on where you will come from. Don’t forget to take your GPS with you so you won’t get lost.
Pilgrims and tourists can take a ride with the famous Kalesa outside. This is a horse drawn carriage which is used as main transportation introduced by the Spaniards when they colonized the Philippines in the 18th Century.
- Cathedral-Basilica of the Immaculate Conception of Manila (Manila Cathedral)
- Gen. Antonio Luna St., Intramuros, 1002 Manila, City of Manila, Philippines
- +63 2 527 3093
- Official Foursquare.com
5. Mass Schedule
Daily Mass Schedule
Monday to Friday
Confessions are done Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday at 7:15 AM and 11:50 AM
And Sundays at 10:00 AM
The Manila Metropolitan Cathedral Basilica has encountered a lot of disasters, both natural and man-made, but it stood the test of time proving that maybe somehow we can consider the thing called forever.