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The Manila Cathedral-Basilica

The Manila Cathedral

The Manila Cathedral-BasilicaThe Manila Cathedral: A Beacon of Faith and History in Early Spanish Times

The Manila Cathedral-Basilica, also known as the Cathedral-Basilica of the Immaculate Conception, is a venerable landmark that has stood witness to the unfolding history of the Philippines. From its origins as a simple chapel to its current grandeur, this iconic structure holds deep significance in the early Spanish colonial period, reflecting the intertwined narratives of faith and power.

The Manila Cathedral-Basilica is the Premier Cathedral of the Philippines for the obvious reason that it is the first Cathedral of the Philippines.

A Modest Beginning

The Manila Cathedral-Basilica traces its roots to the year 1571 when the Spanish conquistador Miguel Lopez de Legazpi established it as a small chapel made of bamboo and nipa palm. This humble place of worship served as a spiritual refuge for the early Spanish settlers, as they embarked on their mission to evangelize the indigenous population and establish the foundations of Spanish rule.

The Transformation into a Cathedral

As the influence of Spanish Catholicism grew in the Philippines, the chapel underwent significant expansions and renovations. In 1581, it was elevated to the status of a cathedral, becoming the ecclesiastical seat of the Archdiocese of Manila. Over the centuries, the Manila Cathedral-Basilica underwent multiple reconstructions, each reflecting the architectural styles of different eras, from Baroque to Neoclassical.

Destruction and Resurrection

The history of the Manila Cathedral-Basilica bears witness to periods of destruction and resilience. Throughout its existence, earthquakes, fires, and wars, including the devastating bombings during the Battle of Manila in World War II, have ravaged the cathedral.  However, each time it fell, the cathedral rose from the ashes, emphasizing its enduring importance as a symbol of faith and resilience.

The devotion to the Holy Souls in Purgatory has been a practice in the Manila Cathedral for centuries. The inclusion of a Chapel dedicated to the Holy Souls among several chapels incorporated in the rebuilding of the Manila Cathedral is evident, occurring periodically after being destroyed by fire, earthquake, typhoon, or bombings, as witnessed during the Battle of Liberation in World War II.

The earliest available record indicates the inclusion of a Chapel dedicated to the Holy Souls in the third structure of the Manila Cathedral, completed in December 1641. Capitan Antonio de Espinosa and his wife Maria de Riaga (also known as Maria Acriaza in other books), descendants of one of the oldest families in Manila, generously donated the Chapel named “Souls in Purgatory.”

Cultural and Historical Significance

The Manila Cathedral-Basilica is not only a spiritual haven but also a repository of Philippine history. It has witnessed significant events, such as the canonization of the country’s first saint, San Lorenzo Ruiz, in 1987, and the visit of Pope Francis in 2015. The cathedral’s intricate design, magnificent altar, and awe-inspiring stained glass windows further emphasize its cultural and artistic significance.

The present structure of the Manila Cathedral, the eighth (8th), and the Post-War reconstruction designed by Archt. Fernando Ocampo has eight (8) chapels. One of them is the Chapel of the Blessed Souls in Purgatory, where you are now. It is now referred to as the Chapel-Shrine of the Holy Souls in Purgatory. It is a Chapel-Shrine de facto because it is a living testimony to the devotion to the Holy Souls in Purgatory.  This started in the Manila Cathedral in the past centuries and has continued to the present day through the Prayer Warriors of the Holy Souls.

The Chapel-Shrine has a marble altarpiece by the Italian Giuseppe Perischetti. It has a unique marble relief that depicts the souls in Purgatory assisted by holy angels. Depicted as raising their prayer to Mary, as refugium peccatorum (refuge of sinners). Moreover, it shows the saints whom Liturgy invokes in the commendatio animae (commendation of the soul): St. Michael the Archangel, St. John the Evangelist and Sts. Peter and Paul.

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AddressCabildo cor. Beaterio St., Intramuros
Manila, Philippines 1002
Phone(632) 8 527-3093
Mobile Phone(632) 8 527-1796
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