Most often I schedule a trip to Intramuros every time I receive guests from our offices overseas. Two weeks ago, I brought a Singaporean colleague to the Walled City and showed her how rich Filipino culture is.
First stop was at the Manila Metropolitan Cathedral-Basilica (also known as the Cathedral-Basilica of the Immaculate Conception and informally as Manila Cathedral). It is the cathedral church of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Manila and is dedicated to Patroness of the Philippines, the Blessed Virgin Mary. The Cathedral was built in 1581 and has been damaged, destroyed and rebuilt several times. It was in 1958 that the church was last reconstructed and incarnated.
According to historians the Cathedral was first built and made of Nip and Bamboo in 1581, was damaged by typhoon the next year and burnt in 1583. In 1592, stone was used to rebuild the church however it was damaged by an earthquake 8 years later in 1600. In 1671 the magnificent 4th Cathedral was completed and it took 17 years to complete starting 1654. Again it was severely damaged by a very strong earthquake in 1863. The firth Cathedral was constructed from 1870-1879 and was blessed that same year and a year after another earthquake toppled its bell tower.
The cross atop the central dome is a reference point of astronomical longitudes of the archipelago. In 1945 during the Battle of Manila the Cathedral was reduced into rubble. The Cathedral that we see right now was reconstructed from1954 to 1958 during the term of Manila Archbishop Rufino Jiao Cardinal Santos, and under the supervision of architect Fernando Ocampo. It was elevated to the rank of minor basilica in 1981 by Pope John Paul II.
Statues of famous saints grace the main façade of the Manila Cathedral made from Roman travertine stone. The saints are St. Rose of Lima, patroness of the Philippines by Angelo Fattinanzi, St. Jacob the Great, St. Andrew the Apostle, preacher of the faith in many corners of Asia and patron of saint of Manila, by Livia Papini; St. Francis Xavier, apostle of the Indies, by Alcide Tico; St. Polycarp, old bishop of Smyrna, by Alcide Tico; and St. Anthony Abbot, founder of Oriental monasticism, by Livia Papini. The cathedral is the resting place for former prelates who have served the Archdiocese of Manila.
The Cathedral had endured countless earthquakes apart from fire and bombing nevertheless it is still standing and still able to receive its people. Beyond doubt the Cathedral is the Virgin Mary’s, its faith to withstand difficulties (calamities) in order to serve its people is comparable to her.