Few months ago, I finally got the chance to visit the Malate Church. It has always been on my bucket list to visit this place and when my Aunt invited me to join her and her family in their pilgrimage in Manila, I didn’t hesitate at all as they were planning to visit not just the Malate Church but also the Ermita Shrine, St Jude and Sto Domingo church. Our first destination was the Baclaran church (check my Baclaran church post here) followed by the Malate Church.Malate Church or formally known as Our Lady of Remedies Parish Church is a Baroque-style church situated in front of the Plaza Rajah Sulayman. The church is under the patronage of Nuestra Señora de los Remedios (“Our Lady of Remedies”). The church was built in 1588 and knowing that it is already 4 century old, you can clearly tell that this church has a lot of story to tell. The miraculous image of the Virgen de los Remedios was brought from Spain by Fr. Juan de Guevara and since then, the devotion to the Virgin Mary made Malate a very famous sanctuary. People flocked to venerate the image, especially on Saturdays. Women presented their babies to the Virgin (the Our Lady of Remedies is the patroness of childbirth). The church went numerous restoration and renovation. It was utterly destroyed by an earthquake in 1645, demolished in 1667 due to the threat posed by the pirate Koxinga. Through the centuries, the Malate Church has been a silent witness to Philippine history having survived the Chinese invasion of 1662, the British occupation of the church in 1762, the Great Earthquake of 1863, and the World War II bombings in February 1945 during the liberation of Manila.Malate is unique among old Luzon churches because of its elaborate retablo-inspired façade, with its spiral columns and arches and relief carvings of religious symbols such as the sacred heart of the Augustinians, who originally built the church. The facade recently went an extensive restoration which brought back the church’s former glory. The interior of the church compare to other churches has a very simple approach. It doesn’t feature any intricate detailing or carvings much like what you can see from St Augustine Church in Intramuros but the place is surprisingly spacious inside. Too bad I wasn’t able to witness the Our Lady of Remedies since the image was covered in observance of the Holy Week. The image of Our Lady of Remedies or Nuestra Señora de los Remedios is enshrined on the main altar.A statue depicting the La Pieta can be found outside the church. It is built in 1997 to pay tribute to those who were killed in World War 2. If this old tree can talk, I’m pretty sure it has so many stories to tell. It might have witnessed a lot of events that has huge historical significance. The church’s main door.A historical marker in front of the church. Located beside the church is the Remedios Jubilee Mission Center which also serves as the church office of Malate Catholic Church. This is also where the Parish Columban fathers reside and work. The place also offers facilities for wedding venue and receptions.
By the way, did you know that Malate Church is the oldest parish run by the Society of St. Columban in the Philippines? Interestingly, after 426 years, the church recently had its very first Filipino parish priest in the person of Columban priest Fr. Leonito “Leo” Distor.