Metropolitan Cathedral of San Fernando, Pampanga

Next to the Archdiocesan Shrine of Apung Mamacalulu in Angeles City, our group headed to San Fernando to visit the Metropolitan Cathedral. Like most churches of Pampanga, the Metropolitan Cathedral of San Fernando has a huge historical significance and in fact, it was recently declared as an important Cultural property by the National Museum of the Philippines.


Interestingly, the cathedral was formerly known as the Cathedral of Our Lady of Assumption. The first church was established in 1755 by the Augustinian Friars and placed it under the patronage of San Fernando III. San Fernando or Saint Ferdinand was the King of Castille from 1217 and is also known as the patron saint of engineers. The first church of San Fernando was built with wooden walls and nipa roofing. On October 17, 1757, townsfolk petitioned the governor-general for exemptions from tribute to enable them to build the church and convent.

In 1788, the church was transferred under the administration of secular priests (Filipino priests). The construction of the present style church started during the same year under the supervision Fr. Manuel Canlas, its first secular cura parroco (parish priest). It was also done with the cooperation of a committee composed of the principales (wealthy residents) of the town. Construction was completed in 1808, but this time, the church was rededicated under the patronage of Our Lady of the Assumption.


Ruins of the old church

Like many old Spanish churches in the country, the church also witnessed numerous battles particularly during the Philippine revolution. The church served a crucial role as a station for revolutionary forces in 1898 during the Philippine Revolution against Spanish colonial rule.

President Emilio F. Aguinaldo and his cabinet viewed the Philippine Revolutionary Army from the windows of the convento on October 9, 1898. The Filipino army were greatly outnumbered by the Americans who had better arms and more ammunition. General Antonio Luna, then in command of the Philippine forces, followed a scorched-earth policy (A military strategy of burning or destroying crops or other resources that might be of use to an invading enemy force). Both church and convent were burned by Gen. Antonio Luna’s soldiers before abandoning the town to the Americans on May 4, 1899.

Apart from this, the church was utterly destroyed in many different occasions, including a fire incident in 1939. It was restored by a Kapampangan Architect Fernando H. Ocampo who is the same architect behind the current Manila Cathedral architecture. From its previous Baroque style, it was rebuilt with a new Neo-Classical style.

In 1948 the church was elevated to Cathedral when it became the seat of the Diocese of San Fernando. In 1975, the diocese was elevated by Pope Paul VI, to Archdiocese of San Fernando. On December 11, 1998, the Golden Jubilee anniversary of its creation as a diocese the Archdiocese of San Fernando’s Cathedral of the Assumption was consecrated and rededicated as The Metropolitan Cathedral of San Fernando.

Architecture-wise, the current church has a very simple facade coated in clean white and adorned with gray faux columns and balusters.


It features a porch in the main entrance with the image of the Immaculate Heart of Mary above it along with Archdiocese coat of arms. The facade also featured colorful stained-glass windows and a rose window featuring the image of Our Lady near its pediment.


Attached to the left side is the beautiful belfry with a wind vane on top.
On the right side of the church is the convent.

You can also find a huge statue of San Fernando near the parking area.
The interior of the church is far more mesmerizing. It looks more spacious inside and it matches the same white and gray color scheme.
What makes it real grand is the huge dome above its main altar.
The dome features a series of stained glass windows with pairs of faux columns in between. The dome itself features octagonal niches of various sizes.
The nave and the altar
The main sanctuary that is slightly elevated. It also features altar rails.
The Cathedra or Bishop’s chair.
The beautiful main altar that enshrines the image of Our Lady of the Assumption
Nuestra Señora dela Asuncion (Our Lady of the Assumption)
There are two side altars in the Cathedral. One features the image of San Fernando
The other one features the image of Virgen delos Remedios, the principal patroness of the province of Pampanga
You can also spot a pulpit across  the main altar
The nave as viewed from the sanctuary.

This Post is part of my Pampanga Pilgrimage series. Feel free to revisit my previous articles here

Reference: SunStar PH / CBCP News / Taga Pampanga Ku /

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