Manila Cathedral

From Wikipilipinas
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Manila Cathedral Drone shot.jpg

The Minor Basilica and Metropolitan Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception (Filipino: Basilika Menor at Kalakhang Katedral ng Kalinis-linisang Paglilihi; Spanish: Basílica Menor y Catedral Metropolitana de la Inmaculada Concepción), also known as the Manila Cathedral (Spanish: Catedral de Manila), is the cathedral of Manila and basilica located in Intramuros, the historic walled city within today's modern city of Manila, Philippines. It is dedicated to the Immaculate Conception, a title for the Blessed Virgin Mary, the principal patroness of the country. The cathedral serves as the episcopal seat of the Archbishop of Manila.

The cathedral was originally a parish church in Manila under the Archdiocese of Mexico in 1571, until it became a separate diocese on February 6, 1579 upon the issuance of the papal bull, Illius Fulti Præsido by Pope Gregory XIII.[1] The cathedral was damaged and destroyed several times since the original structure was built in 1581 while the eighth and current structure of the cathedral was completed in 1958.[2]

The basilica has merited a papal endorsement from Pope Gregory XIII and three apostolic visits from Pope Paul VI, Pope John Paul II and Pope Francis. On 27 April 1981, Pope John Paul II issued papal bull Quod Ipsum designating the cathedral as a minor basilica by his own Motu Proprio.[3]


The cathedral was originally the "church of Manila" officially established in 1571 by a secular priest, Fray Juan de Vivero, who arrived in Manila Bay in 1566.[4] De Vivero, the chaplain on the galleon of San Gerónimo, was sent by the Archbishop of Mexico, Alonso de Montúfar, to establish Christianity as the spiritual and religious administration in newly colonized Philippines. De Vivero later became the vicar-general and the first ecclesiastical judge of the city of Manila.

Spanish conquistador Miguel López de Legazpi chose the location of the church and placed it under the patronage of Santa Potenciana. The first parish priest of the church was Fray Juan de Villanueva.[5]

When the church was elevated to a cathedral in 1579 (coinciding with the canonical erection of the Diocese of Manila), a new structure made from nipa, wood, and bamboo was constructed in 1581 by Domingo de Salazar, the first-ever bishop of Manila. The new structure was consecrated on December 21, 1581; formally becoming a cathedral. The structure was destroyed by fire in 1583, which started during the funeral Mass for Governor-General Gonzalo Ronquillo de Peñalosa in San Agustin Church that razed much of the city.[1] The second cathedral, which was made of stone, was built in 1592. However, it was destroyed by an earthquake in 1600.

Construction of the third cathedral began in 1614. The new structure, consisting of three naves and seven chapels, was blessed in 1614. It again toppled by another earthquake which shook Manila in 1645.

The fourth cathedral was constructed from 1654 to 1671. In 1750, a media naranja ("half orange") dome was added to the crossing by the Florentine friar Juan de Uguccioni, who also introduced a transept to the structure.[6] It was severely damaged in 1863 by a very strong earthquake, that also damaged the palace of the Governor General of the Philippines. The seventh cathedral was constructed from 1870 to 1879. It was solemnly consecrated in December 1879. The cross atop the central dome is a reference point of astronomical longitudes of the archipelago. In 1880, another earthquake toppled its bell tower, rendering the cathedral towerless until 1958.

In 1937, the International Eucharistic Congress was held in the Philippines in which the cathedral played an integral part in promoting eucharistic beliefs. Both a cathedral stamp and medal were unveiled in commemoration of the event and was made by the official manufacturer of medals for the Congress of the Philippines at the time, the sculptor Críspulo Zamora.[7]Template:Multiple imageThis incarnation of the cathedral, was reduced to rubble by the Japanese in a scorched-earth defense in 1945 during the Battle of Manila, as the Second World War neared its conclusion.[8]

The cathedral's present incarnation, was constructed from 1954 to 1958 under Most Rev. Rufino J. Cardinal Santos, Template:Post-nominals; and under the supervision of the notable Kapampangan architect Fernando H. Ocampo.

Pope Paul VI made an apostolic visit and celebrated Mass in the cathedral in 1970. Pope John Paul II issued a papal bull Quod Ipsum on April 27, 1981; elevating the shrine to a minor basilica through his own Motu Proprio.[3] In the same papal bull, he reiterated that Pope Paul VI's papal decree of June 6, 1968 be eternally preserved and enforced to the merits and titles of the cathedral as its own basilica.[9][10]

The cathedral's 50th restoration anniversary was celebrated in 2008, highlighted by the second Manila Cathedral Pipe Organ Festival from December 2 to 10, organized by the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines.[11]

In February 2011, bells were moved to the ground level to prevent tower collapse as shown in the past earthquakes. In January 2012, bells were replaced by new ones personally cast by blacksmith Friedrich Wilhelm Schilling from Heidelberg, Germany in 1958. According to the new marker installed by Manila Archbishop Most Rev. Gaudencio B. Cardinal Rosales, Template:Post-nominals, the newly installed bells are the largest bells actively used in the Philippines. A total of seven Carillon bells were permanently installed in the ground level of the belfry, weighing at Template:Convert.Template:Efn

2012 renovation and 2014 reopening

The cathedral underwent repairs for earthquake retrofitting and subsidence prevention in 2012.[12][13][14] During this time, the San Fernando de Dilao Church was designated as the temporary official church (pro-cathedral) of the Archdiocese of Manila.[15] However, Msgr. Nestor Cerbo stated that the cathedral would finish its renovations on March 25, 2014. Some added features and changes include the installation of CCTV cameras, large flat screen television screens (similar to those found in Baclaran Church), improved audio-video systems, and improved interior and exterior LED lightings.[16] The cathedral completed its restoration on the said date and was reopened to the general public on April 9, 2014 after two years of renovation. Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle presided a Holy Mass, after the reopening of the cathedral, attended by President Benigno Aquino III.[17][18]

In the baptistery of Saint John the Baptist, at the left side of the vestibule from the side entrance, is preserved a reliquary-calendar containing 365 relics of the saints; at the 1st of November there is a bone fragment of Saint Caesarius of Terracina, the saint protectors of the emperors, who replaced and Christianized the cult of Julius Caesar.

Reliquary-calendar with fragment bone of St. Caesarius of Terracina, deacon and martyr, Manila Cathedral. In photo, cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle next the new icon of Saint Caesarius.

2015 Papal Visit


On January 16, 2015, Pope Francis celebrated his first Papal Mass in the country at the cathedral as part of his apostolic visit to the Philippines. The mass was celebrated for the bishops, priests, and the clergy in three languages: Latin, English, and Filipino.

Panorama view of the interior of the cathedral

Patron saint

A bronze life-sized polychrome statue of the Immaculate Conception by Italian artist Vincenzo Assenza (1915–1981), located above the central high altar. Consecrated by Pope Pius XII's Papal Bull Impositi Nobis in 1942, the Virgin Mary under this title is honoured as the Principal Patroness of the country.

In 1581 Pope Gregory XIII issued a papal bull consecrating the cathedral building to La Purísima Inmaculada Concepción de María,[1] while Miguel López de Legazpi consecrated the city of Manila to Saint Potenciana.

On 12 September 1942, Pope Pius XII rededicated the Filipino people to La Purísima Inmaculada Concepción through a Papal Bull called Impositi Nobis, while Saint Rose of Lima and Saint Potenciana remained as the secondary patronesses of the Filipino people, as cited in the Acta Apostolicae Sedis from 20 January 1942.[19]

Shrine rectors

  • Most Rev. Artemio Gabriel Casas, D.D. (1956–1962)
  • Rev. Msgr. Jose C. Abriol, P.A. (1962–1975)
  • Rev. Msgr. Augusto Pedrosa, H.P. (1975–1985)
  • Rev. Msgr. Domingo A. Cirilos, Jr., P.C. (1985–1996)
  • Rev. Msgr. Hernando M. Coronel, P.C. (1996–2002)
  • Rev. Msgr. Nestor C. Cerbo, P.C. (2002–2015)
  • Rev. Fr. Reginald R. Malicdem, (1 July 2015 – incumbent)

Burials and funerals

The cathedral crypt is the resting place for former Archbishops of Manila and a few other prelates:

Two former Presidents were permitted to lie in state under the cathedral dome:

President García was the first layman to lie-in-state and have his Requiem Mass said at the cathedral; President Aquino was only the second layperson and the first woman given this honour during her funeral. This broke with centuries of tradition that reserved the right of lying-in-state beneath the dome to archbishops of Manila.[20]

Details of the shrine

Inscription on the tympanum of the main door.

The northwest façade is a replica of the façade of the previous cathedral, along with statues of famous saints sculpted in Roman travertine stone. Several of the artworks inside the basilica were made by Italian artists. In the previous cathedral, they were originally made of molave wood. The statue of Saint Rose of Lima was sculpted by Angelo Fattinanzi while Saint Jacob, Saint Andrew, and Saint Anthony the Abbott were by sculptress Livia Papini. The statues of Saint Francis Xavier and Saint Polycarp were done by Alcide Tico.[21]

The tympanum above the central northwest doors bears the Latin inscription Tibi cordi tuo immaculato concredimus nos ac consecramus (English: "To thy Immaculate Heart, entrust us and consecrate us").

The papal arms were added in 1981 to signify the cathedral's status as a basilica.

Since Pope John Paul II's apostolic visit to the basilica in 1981, a medallion bearing the Papal arms has been placed beneath the cross on the northwest end. The red galero hat of Cardinal Rufino Santos is also suspended from the ceiling of the dome. In addition, a copy of Saint Peter's statue (attributed to Arnolfo di Cambio) is enshrined inside, across a polychrome life-sized statue of the Immaculate Conception.

Prior to 1988, the bronze statue of the Immaculate Conception in the main altar, by national Italian sculptor Vincenzo Assenza, was painted gold until 1988 (though the twelve star halo-aureola is solid gold).[22][23] Inscribed on the baldachin above the statue of the Immaculate Conception is the Latin antiphon Tota Pulchra es Maria et Macula Originalis Non est in Te (English: "Thou art all-beautiful, Mary, and the original stain [spot] (of sin) is not in thee.").

The baptismal font and angel-shaped holy water fonts are also made of solid bronze by Publio Morbiducci; the prominent mosaic of Saint Jude Thaddeus was made by Marcello Mazzoli. The 134 modern stained glass windows were made in 1964 by Filipino artist Galo Ocampo. The window set, which was a programme of Marian themes, was commissioned and funded by Cardinal Rufino Jiao Santos.

The artistic designs of the stained glass windows of the Manila Cathedral are mostly products of the creative genius of Ocampo, one of the most versatile contemporary Filipino artists during his time and a recipient of the 1964 Patnubay ng Sining at Kalinangan Award from the city government of Manila.[24]


See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 "The First Cathedral:1581 – 1583". Manila Metropolitan Cathedral-Basilica. Retrieved on 2011-11-24.
  2. "The Eight Cathedral: 1958 – Present". Manila Metropolitan Cathedral-Basilica. Retrieved on 2011-11-24.
  3. 3.0 3.1 (1981-04-27). "Quod Ipsum". Litterae Apostolicae. Ioannem Paulum Secundum, Papam. Manillensis Archidiocesis.
  4. "History of the City" Archived 2011-10-08 at the Wayback Machine. City of Manila Official Website. Retrieved on 2011-11-24.
  5. "The Church before it became a Cathedral : 1571". Manila Metropolitan Cathedral-Basilica. Retrieved on 2011-11-24.
  6. Dome (22 July 2014).
  7. (2012-04-28)."The Resilient Cathedral of Manila" Archived 2013-05-21 at the Wayback Machine. The Philippines And Then Some.
  8. (2018) Rampage MacArthur, Yamashita, and the Battle of Manila. New York: W.W.Norton and Company. ISBN 978-0-393-24694-0. 
  9. (1968). "Acta Apostolicae Sedis – Commentarium Oficiale", pp. 536–539. The Vatican Archives. Retrieved on 2012-02-03.
  10. (1990). "Acta Apostolicae Sedis – Commentarium Oficiale – Ioannem Paulum Secundum, Papam. Decretum de Titulo Basilicae Minoris". pp. 436–440. The Vatican Archives. Retrieved on 2012-02-03.
  11. (2008-04-29). "Activities lined up for Manila Cathedral's 50th restoration anniversary". GMA News Online.
  12. Manila Cathedral closes for a year. ABS-CBN News.
  13. "Manila Cathedral to be closed for one year". 
  14. Manila Cathedral not safe, to be shut for repairs. Business World Online.
  15. Manila Cathedral still remains under repair.
  16. Manila Cathedral to reopen in March.
  17. -Manila Cathedral renovations completed
  18. Rie Takumi (April 9, 2014). Manila Cathedral reopens after two years of reconstruction work. GMA News.
  19. Pius XII, Papam (1942-09-12). "Acta Apostolicae Sedis, Impositi Nobis: Insularum Philippinarum Beatissima Virgo Maria Titulo Immaculata Conceptio Primaria Universalisque Patrona et Sanctae Virgines Pudentiana ac Rosa Limana Patronae Secundarias Declarantur.". pp. 336–337. The Vatican Archives. Retrieved on 2012-02-03.
  20. Quezon, Manolo (2009-08-13). Notes on the Aquino funeral. The Philippine Daily Inquirer.
  21. "Statues". Manila Metropolitan Cathedral-Basilica. Retrieved on 2011-11-24.
  22. "Baldacchino Altar (1980s)". Retrieved on 2012-02-03.
  23. "Manila Cathedral Ordination". Retrieved on 2012-02-03.
  24. Ortiguero, Romsanne. With more resilient foundation, Manila Cathedral is all set for Holy Week and Easter Masses.

External links