Intramuros during the Spanish colonial period was not only the center of political power in the Philippines, it was also the center of faith, the Catholic faith, in the country. At a time when there was no separation of powers between church and state, Intramuros was where everything that would influence the way of life of the people emanated from.
While Intramuros would lose its status as a political center during the American colonial period, it still pretty much retained its status as a spiritual center for a still Catholic-dominated population in the midst of the rise of new religions and denominations that came about during that time. That was until World War II changed everything, destroying most of the Walled City’s old churches especially during the Battle of Manila in 1945.
San Agustin Church, the surviving remnant of the prewar Catholic heritage of Intramuros
Manila Cathedral, rebuilt after World War II
Of the original 7 churches, (well 8 if we count a chapel, more on that later) only San Agustin Church survived after the war to become the country’s oldest surviving church. Manila Cathedral, the seat of the Archdiocese of Manila, would be rebuilt and reopened a few years later in 1958. Currently ongoing at this time of writing is the rebuilding of the old Jesuit church of San Ignacio which is expected to be reopened as an ecclesiastical museum in 2016-2017.
Today, we look at the other churches that used to stand in the Walled City which gave Intramuros a much Catholic character and helped made it known as the “Little Vatican of the East,” a heritage devastated by war and never to rise again, at least for a foreseeable future. Continue reading