Monday, June 28, 2010

Cebu Cathedral [My World-Tuesday]



The Philippines is unique in a region that is populated by  Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus and other East Asian beliefs.  About 92% of  90 million Filipinos are Roman Catholic, making the Philippines the third largest Catholic nation in the world, after Brazil and Mexico, and the only other predominantly Catholic nation in Asia aside from East Timor.  So if you're a visitor, don't be surprised to see Catholic churches all over the place.  Many of the old Roman Catholic churches that were built during the Spanish colonial period (1521-1898) are still standing across the Philippine archipelago.  And Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral is one of the oldest.

It was in Cebu where the first Catholic mission was established.  Cebu City, the oldest city in the Philippines founded in 1565, is also considered the cradle of Christianity in the Far East.  Vicentine diarist Antonio Pigafetta recorded the first Easter Sunday mass held at the island-port named Mazaua  (historians and scientists are still searching for the exact location of the said island depicted in Pigafetta's chronicles; some say it's Limasawa Island in Southern Leyte, others believe it's in Masao, the old name of Mazaua, in Butuan City) on March 31, 1521---possibly the same occasion when Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan planted a cross on the island as a symbol of natives' embracing the Christian faith.  

Cebu was established as a diocese in 1595 and initial construction of this church  started in 1689 but typhoons destroyed the incomplete structure.  Funds were not also available  and  it further delayed the completion of the cathedral.  By 1720, preparations for the 4th attempt at construction were underway but funds were again diverted to fight Muslim rebellion in Mindanao.  In 1733, a new bishop started the 5th attempt at construction of the cathedral but he died four years later, leaving the structure unfinished.   The construction was not only plagued by lack of funds but also by the near-absence  of available labor in the city to work on the church. From 1741 to 1886, numerous attempts at finishing the cathedral by various bishops were not successful.  By 1891, the new bishop consecrated the first stone of the new cathedral, it was probably the 7th attempt.  The project proceeds in earnest but halted with the onset of the Revolution in 1898.


In 1904, the only American bishop of Cebu continued the cathedral rebuilding project started by his predecessor.  The cathedral was finally completed in 1909 under the reign of Bishop Gorordo.  The diocese was elevated into an archdiocese in 1934 and the cathedral underwent another renovation.  The newly renovated cathedral was consecrated by Archbishop Reyes in 1940.

The architecture of this church is baroque, with thick walls to withstand typhoons and other natural calamities. The trefoil-shaped pediment is decorated with carved reliefs of floral motifs, an IHS inscription and a pair of griffins.  The Spanish Royal Coat of Arms is emblazoned in low relief above the main entrance owing perhaps to the contribution of the Spanish monarch to its construction.  

A huge part of the cathedral was destroyed by Allied bombings in  1944, with only the belfry, the facade and the walls remaining.  The centuries-old archives and records of the archdiocese were lost forever.  The church was rebuilt in the 1950's. (Sources:  Wikipedia,  Historical Conundrums, CPCBonline)





Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral at dusk

Posted for My World-Tuesday


22 comments:

Sylvia K said...

Gorgeous cathedral, wonderful photos and such interesting history! Such a marvelous post for the day! Have a lovely week!

Sylvia

EG Wow said...

It looks like some of the world's most elegant cathedrals are in the Philippines. I enjoyed your photos and words.

SFBakstad said...

Just absolutely stunning! Those photos are really romantic and we think you've perfected those evening shots...nice lighting!

ρομπερτ said...

Thank you very much for this interesting entry, teaching me something that I did not know before. Please have a nice Tuesday.

daily athens

ladyfi said...

What a magnificent cathedral. The perspective in that first shot is amazing!

Indrani said...

Great knowing more about your country. Those are amazing shots of the cathedrals.

FilMasons NSW said...

Great pictures as well as the article, very informative as always. Must see this cathedral on my next trip... I am not too sure if this is the same Cebu Cathedral but it definitely looks better at night!

Lily Hydrangea said...

this is a beautiful cathedral, very lovely & different from the churches we have here.
I like Pink Floyd too.

J Bar said...

Beautiful shots.
Sydney - City and Suburbs

Regina said...

Beautiful captures and post!
I've seen this church already.

magiceye said...

beautiful images and interesting history

Gwendolyn L said...

This was a very interesting AND informative post. I appreciated every word that you wrote. The pictures also tell your story. Thanks so much for sharing your world.

Bonnie Bonsai said...

Very good Sweetheart! So you've been there? I studied in Cebu, hence, I know this church very much.

Great photographic shots! Congratulations!

Jenn Jilks said...

The architecture is amazing! Thank you for visiting My world !

zeal4adventure said...

Great captures especially the ones at dusk. This is a lovely church to boot!

Carver said...

That's a beautiful cathedral and great historical information.

Marites said...

Lovely shots! it's been awhile since I've seen this church. Funny thing is, this is the first time i've seen it with less people. I've visited this church before and always seen it bursting with activity and people due to the festivals:).

Dave said...

this is a great promotion of lovely places in our world.

excellent work here.

Andrée said...

What a shame it lasted all those centuries and was destroyed in a minute during the war. It was quite a loss. Thank you for a fascinating history.

Ebie said...

Beautiful photos of the Cathedral at dusk! I see the great influence of the Western architecture on this Church.

Cebu is just one Island hope from Negros, should visit on the next vacation.

Gattina said...

Thanks for this very interesting post. The pictures of the church are fabulous !

Eden said...

This is where we attended mass on weekend because it is much closer to where we lived in the city .You have great photos here. Great captures.