By Gillian Gacuma
Manila, Filipinas– The sun breaks through the walls of Intramuros, it’s a normal weekday again inside the oldest district of Manila or should I say, the grand Manila that was. And I’m on my regular morning walks on its four century old calles.
It’s 7 and I’m only a few yards away from my favorite destination.
Located in front of Plaza de Roma, Catedral Basílica Metropolitana de Manila or Manila Cathedral Basilica stand as the seat of Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Manila and has the image of the Immaculate Conception, the principal patroness of the Philippines.
The current neo-classical church is the eighth church since it was built in 1581 where previous structures were severely damaged by major earthquakes and Japanese bombings during World War II in 1945. 10 years after the disaster, they rebuilt it in 1954 to 1958 under Cardinal Rufino Santos and the supervision of Filipino architect Fernando H. Ocampo to what it is today.
Since my first visit in Intramuros around 9 years ago, I easily become a fan of the cathedral. And the recent improvements done last 2014 highlighted its amusing architectural details. So I took some shots that will give you a bite of the grand structure of Intramuros.
(Regular masses: Monday to Friday- 7:30 am and 12:10 pm, Saturday – 7:30 am and Sunday – 7:00 am, 8:30 am, 10:00 am, 11:30 am and 6:00 pm.)
“The principal altar of the Manila Cathedral is a tribute to Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception. The Blessed Mother is depicted as being paid homage to by the Patriarchs of the Old Testament on one side, and the saints of Christendom on the other. The background shows the Original Sin and the manger in Bethlehem, signifying redemption through the incarnation of the Word. The altar is supported by pillars representing Saints Catherine Laboure, Lawrence of Brindisi, Pius V, and Leo IX – four saints known for their pious devotion to the mystery of the Immaculate Conception.”
The Main Altar
The center of devotion and veneration in the high altar is the gilded bronze image of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception, which the Italian Enzo Assenza crafted based on Esteban Murillo’s painting. The Marian image, also designed by Fiedler, is protected by a canopy or baldachino showing beautiful angels venerating the Cross. The column capitals of this canopy portray the olive, cypress, and plane trees to which Mary has been compared according to Liturgy.
Sources: Manila Cathedral-Basilica website