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Manila's Churches

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Manila is a city of churches. China has her walls, India her pagodas, her carved shrines and gilded images, but the distinguishing feature of Manila is her churches. She alone, of all the cities in the East, is rich in sanctuaries and symbols of the faith of the civilized world.

Most of the churches now standing are modern in construction, but the restoration were in strict keeping with the originals.

The austerity of the Augustinian seems to hang about the somber shadows of the old church, and the sincerity of life of the great order finds fitting expression in the building of genuine stone with no plaster or make-believe in its construction.

The higher culture of the Jesuit is nobly expressed in the most beautiful interior of all the churches of the Philippines, comparing wel with the carved-wood interiors of Belgian churches. The Gothic of old Sto. Domingo are the purest type of that most striking of all forms of churh architecture.

The oldest church in Manila stands at the intersection of General Luna and Calle Real in Instramuros. The strength of the walls is attested by the fact that it has withstood all the storms and earthquakes which have ruined so many fine buildings through centuries.

The church of the Recollect Order at the south end of Calle Cabildo is probably the next in age, the present buildings having been completed early in the seventeenth century.

The church of the Franciscans is located on Calles Solana and San Francisco. Its architecture is of the Tuscan form, so with all churches of the Franciscan Order. Across the court of the Third Order, with two fine towers and a rare altar service.

Three churches are especially worthy of attention. Of these the Cathedral takes precedence and is the best known of all the shrines of the city. Like most of the other large buildings, the present structure is the successor of three or four predecessor which were destroyed by earthquakes.

The bijou of Intramuros is the Jesuit Church on Calle Arzobispo. It is thouroughly modern in design and execution, and its exterior is destitute of comeliness; but the interior leaves nothing to ask in ravishing beauty of decoration.

One of the most impressive and interesting of all the Manila churches is old Sto. Domingo The exterior, with its embattled towers and climbing buttresses, is stately and massive. The view from the Ayuntamiento is striking, and the old Gothic windows of the semicircular apse have strong ecclesiastical flavor.


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