After visiting the historic Barasoain Church, we headed next to yet another historic church in the town of Malolos. The Minor Basilica and Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception is just few meters away from Barasoain. Like the Barasoain Church, Malolos Cathedral also shares significant role in Philippine history. For instance, the convent of the cathedral once served as the presidential palace of Emilio Aguinaldo, the first Philippine President.
Before Calumpit became a town of Bulacan, it was actually a separate province (an Alcaldia) and Malolos and other nearby places like Hagonoy, Macabebe, Apalit, and Candaba were just visitas. In 1576, Macabebe became part of Lubao while Candaba became a separate town of Pampanga. Malolos, on the other hand, became a separate town in June 11, 1580 which also covers three nearby visitas including Matimbo, Mambog, and Paombong (with the latter one eventually became a separate town in 1650).
Due to the frequent flooding of its first and second location of its church, they moved it to a higher location from time to time. The hermitage were initially built made of cogon and bamboo materials in early 1573 at the banks of Liang River and it was soon transferred to a place called Bangkal (San Agustin-Caingin area). It was later transferred to Mambog where the prominent tree named Kalumpang once stood. The church was initially made of light materials but was eventually enlarged and improved. In 1599, they started the construction of the bigger church which was finally completed in 1673. However, both the church and the convent were totally destroyed by fire in 1813
The construction of the present church started in 1814 and was completely finished in 1817. It was also utterly suffered from numerous earthquakes that took place in 1863 and 1883 respectively. Like mentioned earlier, the convent became the presidential palace of Emilio Aguinaldo, during the First Philippine Republic from September 15, 1898, to March 31, 1899. Aguinaldo used the convent as his office. However, during the Philippine–American War, the US Army decided to send their soldiers to Malolos to defeat the Filipino forces in town. Before they arrived, Aguinaldo and his men dediced to escape and move to San Fernando, Pampanga. He ordered General Antonio Luna to burn down the Malolos Church, as part of his scorched earth policy so that anything left would be rendered useless.
From the ashes of war, the church was rebuilt from 1902 to 1936. A vast of major changes were made to the church in the following decades. For instance, the entrance to the church was made into three doors. The Church status was elevated into a Cathedral in 1962. Since then, several renovations and repairs were made. In 1967, the old altar was torn down and Msgr. Virgilio Soriano commissioned a new altar.
The old retablo of Malolos Cathedral. Image Credit to Malolos Cathedral FB Page from Mr Christopher Cunanan.
Another major renovation of the Cathedral happened in 1970. The cathedral’s bell tower was formerly topped with a triangular cone but this was removed and was replaced by a concrete statue of the Immaculate Conception, donated by Amparo Bautista-Julian. The old convent was reconstructed and expanded to accommodate the bishop’s residence, chancery office and parish convent. During the incumbency of Msgr. Macario Manahan, the St. Joseph Social Hall was built; the old baptistery was transformed into a mortuary chapel; and a crypt was constructed below the main altar.
The Immaculate Conception Statue on top of the belfry
The cathedral was elevated into the Minor Basilica of the Immaculate Conception on December 4, 1999. Several improvements were made since then especially the patio area. These include the memorial cross in front of the church and the statues under the historic Kalayaan Tree (more than a century old tree that witnessed all the historic events in Malolos including the Philippine American War and the Japanese occupation during World War II).
The Memorial Cross in front of the church
The Memorial Cross.
The Kalayaan Tree (Image Credit to Edgar Alan Zeta-Yap)
Malolos Cathedral or the Minor Basilica and Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception features a beautiful façade.
It doesn’t feature much ornamentation compared to other old churches in Bulacan but it highlights some Neoclassic-inspired columns and openings. The uppermost part of the facade features a single niche with a statue of the Immaculate Conception in it.
The statue of Immaculate Conception on top of the Cathedral’s facade
The center part of the main facade highlight three niches with stained glass windows with images depicting the Immaculate conception and the annunciation of Mary. The three doors, on the other hand, features intricately carved images depicting various scenes from the bible and mysteries of the Holy Rosary.
Historical Markers on the church’s facade
Despite the apparent simplicity of the exterior, the church welcomes you with a very stunning interior. Here’ you’ll find intricately detailed ceiling ornaments and chandeliers.
Central nave and altar.
The closer look of the main altar
The main altar of the Cathedral enshrines the canonically crowned image of Virgen Inmaculada Concepcion de Malolos. The Solemn Canonical Coronation rites of the said image took place in March 10 of 2012. The image is said to be based on the 17th Century La Inmaculada Concepción de los Venerables painting by Bartolomé Esteban Murillo.
Virgen Inmaculada Concepcion de Malolos
Amazing details of the church
The Cathedra or Bishop’s Throne of Malolos Cathedral
You can also spot some of the masterpieces of Willy Layug in the church.
A beautiful and detailed image of the Holy Family
Saint Peter the Apostle
Saint Paul the Apostle
A Painting depicting the Visitation of Mary to Elizabeth
One of the side altars of the church.
One of the replica images of La Inmaculada Concepcion de Malolos in the adoration chapel
The image of Saint Joseph
After the two parishes in Malolos, we headed next to Plaridel to visit another historical church, the one dedicated to Santiago Apostol. More of this on my next entry.
This post is part of my Bulacan Pilgrimage series. Feel free to visit my previous entries
- A Pilgrimage to Bulacan
- Saint Joseph the Worker Parish in San Jose Del Monte, Bulacan
- San Isidro Labrador Parish in Muzon, San Jose Del Monte Bulacan
- Nuestro Señor Jesucristo Parish / Diocesan Shrine of Saint Andrew Kim Taegon
- Saint Andrew Kim Taegon Shrine Museum
- Barasoain Church / Our Lady of Mount Carmel Parish in Malolos
- Museo ng Republika ng 1899
- Minor Basilica and Cathedral of Immaculate Conception/ Malolos Cathedral
- Santiago Apostol Church in Plaridel, Bulacan
- Saint Augustine Parish/ Birhen sa Patio in Baliuag, Bulacan
- Santo Niño de Bustos Parish in Bustos, Bulacan
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