It’s considered a miracle that Cebu City’s 104-year old church is standing in front of me at all. Various construction starts and stops have plagued this cathedral since its inception more than three hundred years ago. And now with a few hours of free time before our flight back to Manila, I have my chance to explore one of the oldest houses of worship in the Queen City of the South.
The sky was a mass of dark greys as I alighted from a numbered Colon-bound jeepney. The unmistakable heptagonal belfry of the Ciudad del Santisimo Nombre de Jesus loomed across the brooding sky. 1836, read the inscribed year that the Cathedral of Cebu was once renovated.
The Metropolitan Cathedral, constructed of cut stones and concrete plaster is now glossed over with a simple white paint. The patina of old age however can still be seen seeping along of its niches as molds reclaim their territory over its antiseptic white walls.
My eyes marveled at the church pediment. The trefoil-shaped apex is swimming with flourishes of flower and vines. Two griffins with tongues fiercely sticking out guards over the central IHS inscription, a common Christogram based on the first three letters of the word Jesus in Greek.
Faux Corinthian columns line the main façade of the structure punctured by hexagonal, rectangular and arched windows filled with colorful stained glasses, and an angel together with a seal of the Spanish Royal Coat of Arms stand right above the church portal.
Swarms of wedding guests greeted me as I proceeded inside the massive cathedral. A couple was saying their lifetime vows as I slowly tiptoed off the side corridor.
The interiors are beautifully renovated, but to a fault, I was unable to see the rich history that this church has witnessed. I knew for a fact that an air raid by the USAFE during the Second World War obliterated the innards of the cathedral with only its outer shell spared from the bombing, but they could have at least structured the renovation to fit its original motif.
The walls are painted in smooth whites and yellows, balconies and the church’s curved barreled ceiling surround the main body of Cebu’s Metropolitan Cathedral. Everything looks grand, elegant and modern; decors fitting a cathedral of such stature.
The altar and retablos share the same encompassing grandeur of the church; glittering in gold and studded with all the usual trappings Filipinos associate with wealth. Replacing the simple Carrara marble retablo from 1933; the new one is carved in mahogany by Laguna artist Robert Cruz. It portrays two images of Filipino saints, San Lorenzo Luis and San Pedro Calungsod along with a central Crucifix.
On the way out, I noticed a small niche framed by an archway containing an old icon of the Our Lady of Guadalupe, Cebu’s patroness, and images of various other saints inside a chamber. Its walls are painted with angels floating as if in heaven, looking over the devotees solemnly praying to their chosen saints.
Grand is the word that I would pick if I were to describe Cebu’s Metropolitan Cathedral. Except for murals, the check list for big churches are all ticked for this structure; its vastness, the opulence of its decorations, the gracefulness of its curved ceiling, the musicality of its pipe organ and the twinkle of the ornate chandeliers hanging from its lofty airs. The only thing missing however is the immense history that has been glossed over within the inner walls of this great cathedral.
Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral
Address: Brgy. Sto. Nino, Legaspi st. cor. P. Burgos st. cor. F. Urdaneta st., Cebu City
Telephone: (032) 253-6422 | (032) 255-8823
Mass Schedule: Click Here
GPS Coordinates: 10.295739,123.902939
View Location on Google Maps: Click Here