Heritage Conservation Society

The online database is now at www.philippineheritage.com

Metropolitan Cathedral of Cebu

Posted by admin on July 27, 2006

The Cebu Catherdal took about a century to complete because of frequent interruptions. One of three diocese created in 1595 (the other two being Nueva Segovia and Nueva Caceres), Cebu was raised to the status of archdiocese in 1934 with the dioceses of Calbayog, Jaro, Zamboanga, Bacolod, and Cagayan de Oro as suffragans. During the Spanish period, Cebu had the most extensive territory because Guam and the Marianas fell under its jurisdiction. Only in 1898, because of the Treaty of Paris, did Cebu lose these territories.

Despite it age and status, Cebu did not have a cathedral worthy of it for many decades. The first church was built in 1595 of wood, bamboo and thatch. Although stone walls were added it was in a sorry state according to a 1667 report of Bp. Juan Lopez to the King of Spain. To remedy this, Bp. Diego de Aguilar began a new church but was unable to finish; his successor Bp. Miguel Bayot instead of completing what had been started began a new structure. Again he was not able to accomplish much. Bp. Sebastian de Foronda found the building too small and inappropriate, calling it a “barn.” Again work was discontinued.

In 1719, the military engineer Juan de Ciscara was commissioned to design the cathedral. He opted for a cruciform design with short transepts. He placed the altar mayor at the crossing, reserved the apse for the altar de pardon, and placed the choir stalls for the cathedral canon in the nave. Work on the construction was suspended when funds were diverted to military campaigns against slave raiders. Construction began in 1734, was interrupted four years later, resumed in 1741 under Bp. Protasio Cabezas. The facade was completed in 1786 and in 1811 the cathedral was blessed. The completed cathedral departed from Ciscara’s plans. It was renovated in 1829, 1836 when Bp. Santos Marañon, who designed other churches in Cebu, designed and built the bell tower. The cathedral was improved in 1886, during the incumbency of Bp. Gorordo, and in 1939. Damaged during World War II, architect Jose Zaragosa rebuilt the cathedral in 1959. The cathedral’s interior was renovated recently.

Heritage Features: Because of damage caused by World War II and the recent renovation, nothing of the historical interior remains, however, the exterior remains 18th century. The 21 meter high facade is capped by a pediment shaped like a trefoil. The monogram IHS decorates the upper register pediment while small circular openings decorate the lower part. A pair of griffins and bas-relief floral designs fill the pediment. The two story facade is divided vertically by paired columns on a tall plinth and the cornice over the main door is broken and emblazoned with a coat of arms in low relief.

Photos from Ivan Anthony S. Henares
Text from Panublion Heritage Site


6 Responses to “Metropolitan Cathedral of Cebu”

  1. Marc said

    glad to see that this building seems to have been kept well

  2. the church remained its spiritual function serving the people in the name of God.I am very amaze that for a long time,this church remains its remarkably history in Philippines!HOpe this remnants if inspirational idea from westernalized design continue to uphold its reason and vision,the purpose of why this church was build!

  3. remarkable history i mean…heheheh

  4. chris said

    a cebuano heritage we all ought to be proud of.

  5. grace said

    keep improving the mother church…

    please try to publish also the list of cebu cathedral priests with their corresponding names and photos. i wanna know them all.. thank you.

  6. Jed said

    the Cathedral has greatly improved over the years, it is now under new jurisdiction and so far, i find the new clergy very emphatic about their calling. they’ve managed to renovate the Mother Church to its finest and they’re still going at it!
    to the new clergy, thank you very much for restoring our Cathedral and hopefully, with the grace of God, we will hav another basilica minore in Cebu…
    Good luck and Congratulations!

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