Are you on a pilgrimage to the centuries-old churches in the Philippines? The Philippines has a rich history and cultural heritage, as seen by our historical sites, traditions, food, and religious practices. The Spanish colonialization has significantly influenced our stronghold of Christianity. Hence, our belief system has remained steadfast throughout the centuries. In this article, I will take you back to the rich history and cultural heritage of the Philippines through its centuries-old churches in Manila.
1. Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene (Quiapo Church)
The Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene, colloquially known as the Quiapo Church, is one of the most popular churches in the Philippines. Quiapo Church is located in the District of Quiapo in Manila. Moreover, it is famous as the home of the Black Nazarene image. The Black Nazarene statue is a highly revered statue of Jesus Christ that many people think possesses magical qualities. Hence, during the feast of the Black Nazarene, devotees flock to the church every year to pay respects to the image.
In 1588, Franciscan friars constructed the Quiapo church out of nipa and bamboo. However, throughout history, it has undergone several modifications and renovations. The church’s exterior is decorated with elaborate carvings and sculptures in a combination of Baroque and Neoclassical designs.
Photo Courtesy by GPSMYCITY
2. San Agustin Church
San Agustin Church is regarded as the country’s oldest stone church. Its current structure represents a beautiful illustration of Baroque architecture. Moreover, the facade combines Baroque and Neoclassical design elements.
In 1571, the Augustinian friars built the first structures out of nipa and bamboo. However, the church was burned down a few times due to unfortunate events. Hence, it has led the church officials to restore the building out of adobe stones. It was able to survive different events, such as natural disasters and wars, making it the only structure left standing after World War II. San Agustin was officially completed in 1607 inside the walls of Intramuros.
3. The Manila Cathedral-Basilica
The Manila Cathedral-Basilica is regarded as the mother of all churches in the Philippines. Secular priest Juan de Vivero Fr. founded the Manila Cathedral in 1571 as the Church of Manila under the protection of Mary, La Purissima e Inmaculada Concepcion. But the history of it being the Premier Cathedral of the Philippines can be traced back to 1581. It all started when the Philippines were split off from the Archdiocese of Mexico and established as an independent diocese with its episcopal seat in Manila. The church was chosen to serve as the Cathedral. Moreover, it is the only church that the Pope himself (motu proprio) elevated to the status of a basilica. Since then, Manila Cathedral has been considered the country’s first cathedral.
4. Minor Basilica of San Sebastian
The Minor Basilica of San Sebastian, also known as the San Sebastian Church, is a church located in Plaza del Carmen, Manila. The construction of the building started in the 1880s. And in 1973, it was recognized as one of the nation’s National Historical Landmarks and National Cultural Treasures. Its distinctive façade draws heavily on Gothic revival design. Moreover, San Sebastian is renowned for being the only steel-built church in the country. Indeed, it is considered a cultural treasure and a place of worship for Catholics. The church’s gothic-inspired architectural style has shown its enduring beauty for centuries in the Philippines.
Photo Courtesy by Altas Obscura
5. Minor Basilica and National Shrine of San Lorenzo Ruiz (Binondo Church)
The Minor Basilica and National Shrine of San Lorenzo Ruiz, also known as Binondo Church, was built by the Dominicans in 1596. Former Governor General Luis Perez Dasmarias founded the church as its center in the then-newly established village of Binondo as a gift for the Sangleys, or Chinese of Parian and Baybay (the modern-day TTondo), who converted to Christianity. The church was dedicated to Saint Gabriel the Archangel, who served as Binondo’s patron until the middle of the 19th century. Consequently, In 1992, Binondo Church became the fourth church in Metro Manila to be given the rank of minor basilica.
In the history of Philippine Christianity, the Binondo Church has played a significant role in the life of a revered saint and national hero. First, the church is the place of the first Filipino protomartyr, Lorenzo Ruiz, who shaped his Christian faith as he worked as an altar server, sacristan, and escribano before his fateful journey and death in Japan on September 28, 1637. Second, Andrés Bonifacio married Gregoria de Jess, his second wife, in this church.
Photo Courtesy by Minor Basilica and National Shrine of San Lorenzo Ruiz
Indeed, you will be enchanted by their timeless beauty, rich history, and immense cultural significance that has kept them alive for so long. Hence, consider exploring these centuries-old churches in Manila as it will definitely show you a part of Philippines’ heart and soul.