Heritage Conservation Society

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Jaro Cathedral

Posted by admin on January 13, 2008

Sta. Isabel de Hungria Cathedral
Although the Cathedral is presently named after St. Elizabeth, the patroness of Jaro is Candelaria, whose feast is celebrated on 2 February. The first church and convento of Jaro was built at Alanga. Frs. Francisco de Santa Maria Oliva and Francisco Ramirez laid out new plans for the town and built the parochial buildings, however, they were destroyed when the Dutch attacked on 12 October 1614. Fr. Pedro del Castillo built a new and stronger church and convento (1639-44). The building were damaged by a typhoon around 1686. After a series of slave raids, the town, devastated by the attacks, was transferred to its present site between 1722-44. Fr. Juan Aguado built a church and convento which were damaged by an 1824 earthquake. Fr. José Alvarez restored the church, tower and convento from 1833-35, setting up a brick kiln on the church site for this purpose. Fr. Francisco Aguería drew up plans for a new church, gathered material, had bricks baked and lumber procured from Negros and Iloilo. In 1865, the Augustinians handed over the parish to become the episcopal see of Jaro, Bp. Cuartero implemented Fr. Aguería’s plan. The church was damaged by the earthquake of 1848; of the bell tower all but the first floor remained. Damaged by war, the church was repaired and renovated. The façade was renovated during the Papal visit of John Paul II in 1971, with the addition of a balcony above the main door.

Galende claims that only the remaining portion of the tower and the church plans can be attributed to the Augustinians. Early 20th century photographs show a squat church with a wide central nave and lateral aisles built lower than the nave. From a triangular pediment curved lines link the laterals with the main section of the façade. Pilasters decorate the façade, pairs of them flanking the arched portal. The church has a similar silouhette to Guimbal. The bell tower is separated from the church, in a manner reminiscent of Ilocos churches. The three story structure had a ribbed dome roof, its lower floor was quadrilateral decorated by a clustering of pilasters at the corners. The upper floors also quadrilaterals have truncated corners. Similar clustering of pilasters decorate these higher registers. Oculi, circular and arch windows pierce the stone and brick wall of the tower. Restored recently using reinforced concrete with a brick facing, the present tower departs from the older plan by being more slender and simplifying the ribbed dome. (Panublion)

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