Manila Cathedral

Satellite image of the Manila Cathedral in Intramuros

Our next featured sight is the magnificent Manila Cathedral, which is officially known as the Minor Basilica of the Immaculate Conception and is located inside the walls of Intramuros. The cathedral is the seat of the powerful and wealthy Archdiocese of Manila, which is the primary see of the Philippines. This is quite fitting since Saint Mary, in her title of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception, is one of the patron saints of the Philippines (another is St. Lorenzo Ruiz). Since it is the seat of an (arch)bishop, the church has the status of a cathedral. It is also a metropolitan cathedral since it has suffragan dioceses/cathedrals like the previously featured Antipolo Cathedral of the Diocese of Antipolo.

The first incarnation of this basilica was as a simple church made of nipa and bamboo constructed several years after Manila was founded in 1571. This Church of Manila, which from the start was dedicated to the Immaculate Conception, became a parish church then the seat of the Diocese of Manila and so on until the diocese was elevated to an archdiocese. The current cathedral is the sixth incarnation and was completed in 1958. All the previous structures were destroyed, either by earthquakes, fires, or by war (the fifth incarnation was destroyed during the 1945 Battle of Manila). In 1981, the cathedral was elevated to the status of minor basilica by Pope John Paul II (I’m not sure if this elevation of status was done during the Pope’s 1981 visit to the Philippines). The status of a minor basilica means that this church is granted special obscure ecclesiastical rights that the lay people need not obsess over except that a basilica is spiritually more important than normal churches.

HDR photo of the Manila Cathedral Photo by Richard Köhl. (CC-BY-SA-2.0)

The Manila Cathedral is also where the remains of many of its (arch)bishops are interred. Among them are Gabriel Reyes, the first Filipino Archbishop of Manila; Rufino Jiao Cardinal Santos, the first Filipino Cardinal; and Jaime Cardinal Sin, the popular prelate who was a key figure during the 1986 People Power Revolution.

If you want to learn more, the Wikipedia article might be of help as is the official website of the Manila Metropolitan Cathedral.

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Posted on
June 4, 2009
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