The district of Sampaloc in the City of Manila has long been known not only as a bustling residential enclave but also an important educational center of the city and of the metropolis as a whole. But at the heart of this busy district is a spiritual core that is common among many communities in the country. What makes Sampaloc’s case a bit different though is that its spiritual core is served not only by one but two Catholic churches with an intertwined history that has shaped the suburb we know of today.
Most prominent of which would be the church known as Sampaloc Church, the suburb’s first Catholic church. Though today, perhaps due to the fact that there are number of Catholic churches now in Sampaloc, it is more known today as the Loreto Church or, in full, the Archdiocesan Shrine of Our Lady of Loreto, dedicated to the Marian image that is venerated in Loreto, Italy, where it is said that the Mary’s family home in Nazareth was relocated to…well, so they say.
The church was first built by Franciscan missionaries in 1613. In addition to the church, there was also a convent built nearby which served as the first home of the Poor Clares in the country before they moved to Intramuros.
It was rebuilt twice in its history, first in 1640 due to the damage brought by the Chinese revolt that happened a year before. Second was in 1666 due to the deteriorating condition of the structure caused by an earthquake in 1645 and also for expansion purposes. The church was also affected by the 1880 earthquake which prompted the reconstruction of its steeple which was toppled down by the said earthquake.
But the onslaught of World War II, at the height of the Battle of Manila, would cause the destruction of the original church. A new church would eventually be built and would be completed by 1958, that being the present church standing today. Nevertheless, the Marian devotion at the church for the Lady of Loreto continued to grow, much so that the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Manila declared in 2002 that it would be named as an archdiocesan shrine. (whatever benefits that entails, which even many Filipino Catholics have no idea what they are)
Adjacent to the aforementioned church is another Catholic church known as the St. Anthony Shrine. As the name implies, the church is dedicated to, not to mention holds weekly novena prayers to, the Catholic Saint Anthony of Padua, a Franciscan monk known to be the patron saint for finding lost people or items.
Its history goes back to 1794, when the Franciscan Third Order was looking to build its own church. The regular Franciscans who were administering Sampaloc Church at that time invited their Franciscan brethren to build their church near theirs. Thus, beginning that year, the twin churches have become a sight in that part of Sampaloc. Interestingly, the Third Order church was originally dedicated to a Marian image, the Our Lady of the Pilgrims. (Nuestra Señora de la Peregrina) The center of the St, Anthony devotionals was then in Intramuros, at the Franciscan church which was located right where the current campus of Mapua Institute of Technology stands today.
Like its neighbor, the Third Order church in Sampaloc was destroyed in the Battle of Manila of 1945. In addition, the Third Order also lost their church in Intramuros. Thus, the order decided to consolidate its activities in one location, that being Sampaloc. Thus, work proceeded to rebuild the Sampaloc Third Order church which was completed by 1947. As brought about by this consolidation, the devotional activities for St. Anthony were also moved to the newly-rebuilt church. Thus the church was now dedicated to the aforementioned saint. Like its Loreto neighbor, the church was also declared a shrine, owing to the popularity of the St. Anthony devotionals in the church.
This entry has been created in part of the Urban Roamer’s activities as a volunteer for the Wikimedia Philippines Heritage Mapping Project. As such, a Wikipedia article and a Philippine Heritage Map entry has been made to document this site.