That’s a pretty big mouthful, but basically what I’m talking about here is the church that’s designated as the command center for the Archbishops of Manila. To be precise, these esteemed gentlemen:
A few posts ago I showed some photos of the cathedral in in Antipolo. It’s pretty nice, but the Manila cathedral was designated as a Minor Basilica for a reason. It’s got great architecture and a LOT of history, as you can see from the picture above, which shows archibishops dating back to 1573. We went through it rather quickly, because it was as hot as an oven in there, but on a cool day we could go back and spend a few hours reading all of the information that’s put out on display. A quick history is that this church was originally established by the Spanish during the colonial period. It originally fell under the diocese of Mexico, but eventually gained its own authority and power structure. The building itself has, in part, survived multiple wars, a massive fire and an earthquake. It’s been rebuilt a few times.
The exterior and interior of the building are in pretty good shape. There was some quiet renovation work going on while we were there, but it didn’t detract from the overall experience. I’m not Catholic, but it was still inspiring to be in such a sacred place with over 400 years of history, so we took a few moments to offer up prayers before leaving to continue our self-guided tour of the Intramuros area.
This is a view of the cathedral from the main entrance towards the chancel. It’s a pretty big area.
If you walk to the front and then turn and look above the entrance, you’ll see the pipe organ. A plaque I read said that the first Catholic missionaries to the Philippines brought musical instruments with them, including a portable box organ which was probably destroyed in a major Manila fire in the 1500s. It didn’t say exactly when the pipe organ was put in place, but it said that for almost all of the cathedral’s history, there’s been a Master Chantre, some of which were specifically named as organists.
Just after taking this photo, a young guy walked in, embraced this cross and began to pray silently. I’ve noticed that Catholics place a lot of importance on symbols, images and things as objects or focal points of prayer. It seems bizarre to me, because there shouldn’t be an object between yourself and God. On the other hand, I suppose something that inspires (properly placed) devotion can’t be all that bad. Being in the cathedral was a strong reminder and incentive for me reflect as well.
This is the “La Pieta”. I didn’t read the plaque, so I don’t understand the symbolism behind the statue, but it’s well made.
This is an image of Our Lady of the Philippines located in the Manila Cathedral.
I’m looking forward to visiting this cathedral again. We were a bit short on time and just happened to see it while on our way to Fort Santiago so we rushed through. I may create an additional post about this cathedral in the future, since it’s such a wonderful and rich landmark in Manila.