The Minor Basilica of the Immaculate Conception is a Roman Catholic Minor Basilica in the capital of the Philippines, Manila. The cathedral of the Archdiocese of Manila, located within the centuries-old section of Manila called Intramuros, is the seat of the Archbishop of Manila. Having been destroyed several times by natural disasters and fires during its 400-year history, the current structure standing was completed in 1958, the cathedral's sixth incarnation. It is dedicated to Saint Mary under the title "Immaculate Conception", in her role as patroness of the Philippines.
The See of Manila was founded in 1578, with jurisdiction over the Philippine Islands and suffragan to the See of Mexico. Its first bishop, Domingo de Salazar, arrived in the Philippines on September 1581.
Originally built in 1581, of nipa and bamboo materials, the cathedral was destroyed by a typhoon in 1582 and razed by fire in 1583. The first structure made of stone was erected in 1592 but was again destroyed by an earthquake in 1600. Several constructions took place in 1603 to 1614, 1659, and 1737 to fortify the church but were all destroyed by the earthquake that struck Manila in 1621, 1645 and 1749 respectively. The fifth structure with a new facade design by Nicolas Valdes was also destroyed during the June 3, 1863 earthquake. In 1871, the construction of the sixth structure begun under the supervision of Architects Luciano Oliver, Serrano Salavarria and Engineers Eduardo Navarro and Manuel Bazan. The magnificent structure was once again destroyed during World War II in February 1945.
The present cathedral was constructed in 1954 and was inaugurated on December 8, 1958 under Archbishop Rufino Jiao Santos of Manila and with the supervision of National Artist for Architecture, Architect Fernando Ocampo. It was elevated into the rank of minor basilica in 1981 by Pope John Paul II.
The church is a Romanesque-Byzantine architecture that features baroque elements, a fusion of contrasting styles. The facade is composed of two-storey blocks with three entrances of recessed arches. The doors are made of bronze sculpted by Alessandro Monteleone and Francisco Nagni. Attached is the bell tower at the right side of the building.
The cathedral is also the resting place of former prelates who served the Archdiocese of Manila, similar to that of St. Peter's Basilica in Vatican City. Among these are Michael J. O'Doherty, the last American and foreigner Archbishop of Manila, Rufino Jiao Santos, the first Filipino cardinal, Gabriel Reyes, the first Filipino archbishop of Manila and Cardinal Jaime Sin.
It was also used for wakes of religous people like Corazon C. Aquino , and Jaime Cardinal Sin
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