A brief description.

The Church of Manila was established by the secular priest Juan de Vivero, who had the honour of baptizing Rajah Matanda. Vivero first arrived these shores in 1566 as chaplain of the galleon of San Geronimo, which had come to support the Spanish colonization of the newly discovered islands. He was given the special privilege and sole faculty by the ArchBishop of Mexico to establish the spiritual administration of the new Philippine colony. Later, Vivero would become the first vicar-General and the first ecclesiastical judge of Manila .
On 24.01.1571, feast of St. John the Baptist, the Spanish conquistador Miguel Lopez de Legaspi founded the City of Manila. He earlier took possession of Maynilad, the native settlement of Rajah Matanda and Rajah Sulayman on May 19, 1571 and firmly established Spanish authority in the newly conquered and untrammeled turf. The historic day happened to be the feast of Santa Potenciana and to honour her, she was made patroness of the new territory. Armed with the Spanish sword and the Cross, Legaspi, in his role as conquistador, apportioned a parcel of land for the church of the new settlement under the patronage of 'Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception'
, and administered the religious affairs of Manila until such time as becoming a parish and Manila was created into a diocese. It was a simple structure of nipa and bamboo, materials which were readily available during that time. It had for its first parish priest the secular Juan de Villanueva. The other religious who became the pillars of this parish were Juan de Vivaneta and Nicolas Riccio. This church was also witness to the events that would threaten the city and its residents. On November 30, 1574 , the feast of St. Andrew the Apostle, the Spanish forces were able to quell Limahong’s invasion. Because of such a fortunate turn of events, the holy apostle was made patron saint of Manila . The victory was celebrated with fireworks and a Mass with sermon was held in the Church of 'Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception in Manila'.

Philippines 1958, Mi 622, Sc 646. FDC to commemorate
the inauguration of the rebuilt Manila Cathedral, 08.12.1958.

In the years that followed the first Spanish occupation of the Philippines, both the new settlement of Manila and the church grew. On 6th February 1579, Pope Gregory XIII issued the Papal Bull 'Illius fulti praesidio' establishing the diocese of Manila. From this time onwards the church of 'Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception' was elevated to the rank of cathedral, under the title of 'Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary' with as first Bishop the Spanish Domingo de Salazar, O.P. After many problems de Salazar and Cristóbal de Salvatierra arrived at Manila on 17.12.1581. By December 1581 the old parish church of Manila was rebuilt into a cathedral, made from local materials, mainly of nipa and bamboo. Interestingly enough 07.02.1583, a fire started by a fallen candle during a funeral mass in the San Agustin Church, which is also in Intramuros, destroyed the Manila cathedral, San Agustin Church and numerous other houses and property. The fire spread rapidly as most of the structures of the time were built from bamboo and nipa. In his letter to King Philips II (18.06.1583) de Salazar proposed Manila to rebuild in stone and not in straw. He received the practical support of the Jezuïet Antonio Sedeño, architect, who has built the first stone house for de Salazar, and built the Manila Walls (1590-1593). In 1587 construction began again on the Manila Cathedral, not because of its destruction, but rather because the cathedral was declared to be of unacceptable quality for a cathedral. The refurbishment of the Manila Cathedral did not last long, in June 1588 it was destroyed by a typhoon.
Because de Salazar wanted to inform King Filips II
about the missions in the Philippines, he sailed with Miguel de Benavides, O.P via Mexico to Spain in June 1591. There he met the King and his Council  in 1593 in Madrid. The topics of the meeting were: the problems in the Philippines, the foundation of three new dioceses,  - Cebú, Nueva Cáceres and Nueva Segovia -, and the raising of Manila to the see of the ArchBishop. Domingo de  Salazar saw his proposals not realized, because he died in Madrid 04.12.1594.
The history of 'his' cathedral is marked by typhoons, earthquakes and World War II. The seventh cathedral, built in 1879, was totally destroyed during the battle of Liberation from February 3 to March 3, 1945,
which culminated in a terrible bloodbath and total devastation of the city, as well as the cathedral of Manila.

Philippines 1995, Mi 2493, Sc 2347. Various destroyed buildings of Manila, among others the cathedral. The monument by Pedro de Guzmán, honoring the 100.000 Filipine civilian victims of WW II.


The remaining wreckage was included in the new Manila Cathedral, so at least part of the history of one of the most important features in Manila has been preserved. With financial support of the Vatican, the cathedral is built after the concept of the Philippine architect Fernando Ocampo, between 1945-1950. In the cathedral the stain-glass windows by the Philippine artist Galo Ocampo about the life of the Virgin Mary. There is the greatest organ of Asia, - 4500 organ pipes -, built in 1958 by the Dutch organ-building company Pels & Son. The inaugural concert was held, with the world-acclaimed Belgian organist Flor Peeters as the performer.

      * The First Cathedral: 1581-1583
      * The Second Cathedral: 1591-1600
      * The Third Cathedral: 1614-1645
      * The Fourth Cathedral: 1681-1751
      * The Fifth Cathedral: 1760-1852
      * The Sixth Cathedral: 1858-1863
      * The Seventh Cathedral: 1879-1945
The Eighth Cathedral: 1958-Present

The cathedral was elevated to minor basilica.

From 06.02.1579 till now seven Dominicans were ArchBishop of Manila:

1. Domingo de Salazar, O.P. (1581-1594)
First Bishop of Manila, born in Rioja , Spain in 1512. Entered the Dominican Order at Salamanca and worked for 40 years as a missionary in Nueva España ( Mexico ). Consecrated Bishop in Madrid in 1579. Arrived in Manila on 07.12.1581. Erected the Manila Cathedral on December 21, 1581 by virtue of the Bull of Pope Gregory XIII as suffragan of Mexico. Defended the natives against abusive encomenderos.
2. Miguel de Benavides, O.P. (1603-1605)
A native of Carrion De Los Condes of noble parents. Became a Dominican and went to Manila with the first Dominican mission in 1587. From
beeing Bishop of Nueva Segovia, he was transferred to Manila in 1603, the King defraying the expenses of the Bull, due to his poverty. Built Santo Tomas University  (UST). Died on July 26, 1605, leaving his funds to UST.
3. Juan Lopez, O.P. (1672-1674)
A Dominican scholar who came to the Philippines as a missionary in 1643. Consecrated ArchBishop of Manila in 1672. Quick-tempered and readily angered. Involved in many unpleasant incidents. Died in 1674 after 42 years of religious life.
4. Felipe Pardo, O.P. (1681-1689)
Became rector of UST and provincial of the Dominicans. Consecrated in 1681 at the age 71. Underwent disturbing events, was banished and confined in Lingayen, Pangasinan. Died in 1689 at the age of 80.
5. Juan Antonio de Zelaibar, O.P. (1805-1824)
Born in Vizcaya in 1753
, he took the Dominican habit at the age of 16 in Burgos. Was professor of theology at the University of Alcala for seven years. Consecrated ArchBishop in Manila on July 14, 1805 by Bishop Domingo Collantes of Nueva cáceres. Endowed the seminary of his diocese. Died on March 4, 1824.
6. Pedro Payo, O.P. (1876-1889)
Became ArchBishop of Manila in 1876. Known to be meticulous in ecclesiastical administration. His greatest achievement was the adornment of the cathedral and its improvement. He died in 1889.
7. Bernardino Nozaleda, O.P. (1889-1902)
A native of Asturias. Originally a professor in Manila. Took possession of his diocese on October 29, 1890. Issued circulars to the Filipinos on May 8, 1898 urging them to defend the Philippines against the American invaders. Returned to Spain and was nominated ArchBishop of Valencia in 1903.

Five Dominicans were suffragan-Bishop.

Source: Information was kindly supplied by Msgr. Nestor Cerbo, the Rector of Manila Cathedral. Internet: Philippines Travel Guide 2004-2005. Internet:  manila cathedral.


Philippines 1979, Mi 1296, Sc 1418.
400th Anniversary of the Archdiocese of Manila, 1579-1979.




Philippines 1995, Mi 2486, Sc 2341.

Pope John Paul II visits the Cathedral of Manila.



A total of 134 stained glass windows by Galo Ocampo (1913-1985) are found in the Cathedral of Manila, specifically:


Details from a stained glass window in the Cathedral of Manila.
by Galo Ocampo (1913-1985).

Philippines 1997, Mi 2842, Sc 2500. (6p)


Philippines 1997, Mi 2843, Sc 2501. (7 p)

Adoration of the Magi by Galo Ocampo (1913-1985).

On a window of the central nave the figure of  Fra Angelico. 'The fineness of the stained glass windows of the cathedral of Manila is due particularly to the magic of their colours. While they are so well matched according to the graduated exposure to the sunlight, their brilliant colours pour into the dim interior to give a dramatic lighting effect.'

Philippines 1997, Mi 2841, Sc 2499. (4 p)
The nativity. Stained glass window of the cathedral of Manila ?
Perhaps of a pupil of Galo Ocampo?


Philippines 1997, Mi 2844, Sc 2502. (8p)

Stained glass window by ?,
 in the St. Sebastan Church, Manila.
The St. Sebastian Church on the Plaza del Carmen, Quiapo, Manila,
is the first all-steel church in the Philippines and in Asia; and the second in the world. The story goes that the Augustinian Recollect Order, having seen their church
three times leveled to the ground by earthquakes, decided to have the new one cast in steel so that it would endure Manila's tembles. .Design for the church was finished in 1883 and was prefabricated in Belgium. The completely knocked-down church was shipped backed to the Philippines in 6 ships. It weighed closely up to 50,000 tons. Its stained glass windows, which are intact until now, were, according to Father Ceniza, done in France. With its vaulted ceilings, jewel-like stained glass windows and General romantic air, San Sebastian is understandably a much-favoured venue for weddings.
The Basilica contains the National Shrine of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. Every year the feast of Our Lady is celebrated twice. The biggest feast is celebrated on 31st January, with a traditional novena ending with a procession all along the parish streets. Her feast on 16th July is also celebrated with a novena but with a shorter religious procession.Sources: Internet manila.

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