After visiting the National Shrine of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, we headed right away to Intramuros to visit the Minor Basilica and Metropolitan Cathedral of Immaculate Conception or better known to many as the Manila Cathedral. I have been in this church numerous times especially during the Grand Marian Procession (celebrated every December). The 445 year old Basilica is dedicated to Our Lady of Immaculate conception, the Patroness of the Philippines.
Interestingly, today’s Cathedral is actually the eighth church to be erected on the site. The Church of Manila was originally governed by friar orders until 1581 when Pope Gregory XIII created the diocese of Manila raising the the status of the church into a cathedral under the title of the Inmaculada Concepcion de la Virgen Maria under the governance of its first bishop , Fray Domingo Salazar. The church underwent numerous restoration and renovation all through out its years as it was utterly damaged and destroyed several times due to natural calamity and during the world war. The church was mercilessly destroyed during the Battle of Liberation in 1945. The ruins of the church remained on site and the restoration took place in 1954 under Cardinal Rufino Jiao Santosand under the supervision of the notable Filipino architect Fernando H. Ocampo. Instead of a new design, Ocampo decided to make the Cathedral’s appearance closely similar to its predecessor yet applying modern approach to it that makes the church a lot more spacious. “Ocampo’s cathedral was made more spatially and visually interesting by its striking Neo-Romanesque façade, Byzantine motifs, bronze doors, pineapple finials, and many other artistic ornamentations. It has a particularly eclectic character, brought about by the mixture of revival, renaissance, and modern styles with a dominantly Marian theme as a tribute to the Immaculate Conception, the cathedral’s titular patroness.”(ManilaCathedral.PH).
The upper most portion of the main door or better called as the “Tympanum” has a Latin inscription of it “Tibi cordi tuo immaculato concredimus nos ac consecramus” which means “To your Immaculate Heart we are entrusted for safekeeping and consecrated”A marker placed outside the church signifying the issuing of Pope John Paul II of a papal bull Quod Ipsum on April 27, 1981, elevating the shrine to a minor basilica.The central nave and vaulted ceiling of the cathedralA closer look of the altar and the decorated floors with images and symbols. These are actually the styles of the three former Archbishops of Manila which includes Rufino Cardinal Santos y Jiao (with motto – Caritas in Dilectione “Love in Love”) ; Jaime Cardinal Sin y Lachica (with motto – Serviam
“I will serve”) and Gaudencio Cardinal Rosales y Borbon (with motto – SI MORTUUM FUERIT FRUCTUM AFFERT (If it dies, it bears fruit). The coat of arms of the current Archbishop (Cardinal Tagle) is not yet displayed .The high altar with the image of Our Lady of Immaculate Conception at the center.The view of the Choir loft from the altar. You can also see the Cathedral’s pipe organ which is said to be the biggest pipe organ in the country and possibly in South East Asia. The Pipe Organ was built in 1958 by the Flemish Organ-building Company Pels& Sohn (Bernhard Pels) and was erected by Mr. Jose Loinaz of Manila and P. Andriessen of Holland. It was later restored in 2006 by Diego Cera Organ Builders (the same team behind the restoration and preservation of the historic Bamboo Organ in Las Piñas)At the side of the alter is an intricately decorated pulpit. The canony of the altar also has a Latin inscription “Tota Pulchra es Maria et Macula Originalis Non est in Te “, an antiphon which means “You are all beautiful, Mary, and the original sin is not in you.”Both sides of the church are chapels dedicated to different saints. Some are being used for exhibits of some ecclesiastical items or anything alike. This one in particular will feature paintings depicting the “Way of the Kingdom” according to Saint LukesCrucified ChristThe image of Ina Poon Bato (The Patroness of Zambales) also enthroned on the Cathedral The marvelous replica of the La PietaInside the Saint John The Baptist Baptistry is this stunning bronze-finish baptismal font by Publio Morbiducci. A polychrome life-sized statue of the Immaculate Conception.Statue of Saint Peter (attributed to Arnolfo di Cambio)
For the activities you can do when visiting the church, kindly use your Pilgrim’s passport for your reference. Activities might include the recital of Year of Mercy Prayer, praying in Adoration Chapel, visitin Manila Cathedral crypt and pray for the souls of the Archbishops, giving donations for homeless and more.
How to Get Here:
From Monumento, take the LRT, get-off at Doroteo Jose station then take a jeepney with the signboard Sta. Cruz/Pier. That route will pass by the Manila Cathedral/Fort Santiago.
or from the Monumento LRT station, you can take the Sta. Cruz/Pier jeepney at once. This option will take a longer time, but you won’t have to transfer vehicles.
You can also take the EDSA route (by bus or the colorum vans), get off at the Quezon Ave., and from there you can take Quiapo/Pier jeepneys.