San Franciso Church

The Franciscans were the second religious order to arrive in Manila. In July 1578, thirteen Franciscans arrived in Manila and were welcomed by the Augustinians. They stayed in their cloister until 1 August when they moved to a humble dwelling of bamboo and thatch built in the lot owned by Capitán Martín de la Rada. Built at the expense of de Rada and Gov. Gen. Gabriel de Rivera, a church of bamboo and nipa was built beside the convent. The church was dedicated to Our Lady of Angels. The 1583 fire that hit Manila ravage both church and convent. A new wooden church with a tile roof was hastily built, again at the expense of the two generous donors. An infirmary, the precursor of San Juan de Dios, was added to the convent.

A wooden convent was built in 1602 together with a church of rubble. The church retained its advocacy as Our Lady of the Angels, the same name as the Franciscan mother church in Assisi, Italy. The third convent and church was constructed in stone but by the 18th century the church was demolished to make way for a much larger and sumptuous church. In this church was brought the miraculous image of the Santo Sepulcro, for which San Francisco was noted.

A fourth church was begun in 1739. The church and part of the convento were demolished. A cornerstone was laid on 5 November of that year. The church remained in substance until the 19th century, when it is reported that in 1824, the bell tower was damaged and had to be rebuilt. In 1863, because of the earthquake, the church roof and the capilla mayor had been damaged and had to be repaired.

This church had a retablo-like façade. decorated with superpositioned Ionic and Corinthian columns. Windows, niches with statues, balustrades completed the design. The church as it survived to the 20th century did not have a prominent bell tower, instead two protruding decorative piers flanked the façade. This façade was a departure from that built before 1727 which had a bell tower attached to the left of the church and whose ornaments were limited to around the central portal.

The church was damaged by the bombardment of 1945. The shell remained until after the war when bulldozers tore it down. The Franciscans did not return to Intramuros, moving their central house to San Francisco del Monte where San Pedro Bautista had built a hermitage.

Venerable Orden Tercera (VOT):Built perpendicular to San Francisco was a church for the lay branch of the Franciscan or Third Order. The third order was established by Fray José de Santa Maria in the Franciscan convent in Intramuros. In 1618, a small chapel contiguous to the Franciscan convent was constructed for the celebrations of the tertiaries. In 1723, a bigger and more ample church was begun and completed a decade later in 1734. This church was consecrated in 1734 by Bp. Felipe de Molina, bishop of Caceres who himself was a tertiary. The church was dedicated to the Virgin Mary under the title Immaculate Conception.

The church became the provisional cathedral after the 1863 earthquake. The remains of Simon de Anda were kept in the church after it was transferred from the damaged cathedral, when it was returned to the cathedral after it had been reconstructed.

The church was damaged together with the San Francisco in 1945. The tertiaries did not rebuild their Intramuros church but instead agregated themselves with another band of Franciscan tertiaries in Sampaloc. The tertiaries of Sampaloc were originally established in Dilao, east of the walled city, in 1619. The tertiaries transferred to Sampaloc in 1783, probably after the village of Dilao was razed as a consequence of the British occupation. In Sampaloc the tertiaries built a small chapel in 1794 for their devotions. This chapel under the advocacy of the Virgin May under the title de Peregrina was replaced after the war with a modern construction.


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