City of Manila

The Treasures at Santa Ana Church

If there’s one imposing and most important landmark the district of Santa Ana, Manila is proud of, it would be the Church of the Our Lady of the Abandoned, but more popularly known as Santa Ana Church.

Its origins actually date back in 1578, when the Franciscan missionaries established themselves at the old community of Namayan, once part of a kingdom bearing the same name. The Franciscans first built a small church near a brook, which they dedicated to the mother of the Virgin Mary, St. Anne. And old Namayan became Santa Ana de Sapa, the first Franciscan mission built outside Intramuros, AKA Old Manila.

The present Santa Ana Church was actually built in 1720 through the efforts of Fr. Vicente Ingles, who was a parish priest there at the time. It was also Fr. Ingles who brought to the church the image of Our Lady of the Abandoned, to whom the church was eventually dedicated to. Carved in 1713, it is said that it was through the grace of Our Lady of the Abandoned that Santa Ana was spared from much destruction brought about by World War II in the city. It is also one of the few churches in the city that has largely remained intact.

And who would have known that Santa Ana’s priceless treasures were to be found right underneath her church? In 1966, archeaologists discovered porcelain, pottery, and ceramic wares during an excavation beneath the courtside of the church. Now being displayed at the National Museum, these artifacts, many bore Chinese, Thai, and Indochinese origins, were a reminder of Santa Ana’s rich heritage and thriving economy.

courtyard where the 1966 excavations took place
item from Philamlife Magazine showing the 1966 excavations at Sta. Ana (courtesy of http://ofmphilarchives.tripod.com/id10.html)

When visiting the church, one should not miss the Camarin de la Virgen, a dressing room of sorts located behind the altar of the church at the adjoining parish building.

Being one of the oldest and most preserved churches in the city, it is good to know that much work has been done in recent years to preserve the church’s heritage. One example of this noteworthy work is the work done on the baptistry of the church, keeping with the architecture and heritage of the church overall.

At the back of the church once stood another important landmark. A well used to be located which was said to have healing powers. You can imagine the long queues back in the olden days composed mostly (if not all) of those who have physical ailments with the hopes of being cured by the well believed to be blessed by the Virgin Mary herself.

where the old well was

The American authorities though thought otherwise and was deemed unsanitary. With the threat of cholera affecting the city that time, the health officials had it filled up and closed for good in 1920. Some oldtimers believed that the closure of the well was the cause of the typhoon and flooding that ravaged Santa Ana immediately after. Nevertheless, a little altar was built in place of the now filled up well in remembrance of the miraculous well of the old.

a small shrine placed where the old well was before

entry updated June 2011

credits also to Traveler on Foot

© The Urban Roamer

9 Comments

  • Ben Villanueva jr.

    It touched my heart to see the portrait of Sta. Ana Church, although I am residence of Singalon. I used to commute to Sta. Ana to work at Punta, Sta. Ana where I worked at AG&P. I have lots of classmates at Araullo High School who lived in the vicinity of the church and some relatives too. thanks.

  • Alfredo R. Magsino

    Sta. Ana church is very momorable to me because I
    got married to Lita, my wife, in this very church in
    April 8, 1973. I grew-up in Pasig Line, Sta. Ana and
    now residing here in San Pedro, Laguna. I completed
    my elementary grades at Sta. Ana Elementary School in
    1956 and my high school at Villamor High School along
    Syquia street, Sta. Ana, Manila in 1960. Thank you for
    sharing this with us.

  • Edgardo Gelvezon

    Thanks for sharing this with us, you’re an Angle in disguished.Like Freddie my former classmate,I’m deeply attached to the Miraculous Mother. I hope the younger generation will know how lucky we are in Sta.Ana to have the grace and protection showered by OUR LADY of The Abandoned.

  • Edgardo Gelvezon

    Note: I remember the story from some Old folks of Sta.Ana,when I was 7 or 9 years of age. that there was lots Miracle that Our Lady had shown. one of it is to a Chinese cloth trader during the colonial time.She ordered some fine cloths to be delivered to Sta.Ana.telling him that the address is easy to find because it is the biggest house in the whole area,the trader being from a different place.upon arriving in Sta.Ana, He found out that the only big house is the church. he tried to asked people around hoping to get the correct address but all fingers pointing to the church. upon entering,he saw the image of the Lady and the Child, the same that ordered the goods.He was converted and made the small Chapel a cross the Church in Lamayan street, if you notice it. You can know more about the Miracles of OUR LADY and how the Church was save from the destruction from japanese invaders.
    Once again, Thank You.

  • nel reformina jr.

    Thanks for sharing the history and pictures of Sta. Ana church. I lived in Sta. Ana from grade school to high school days then moved to Malate. Until now, I still consider the Lady of the Abandoned as my patron saint. I always pray for her intercession. She must have helped me lot for what I am now. I have a lot of memories of Sta. Ana. I used to walk from my house to attend Sunday masses. I never missed attending the services during Holy Week. The Seven Last Words sermons on Good Fridays and the feeling of having a renewed spirit on Easter Sundays are some of those vivid memories. And outside the Church every Sunday was like a fiesta celebration due to all the flea market – a lot of colorful goods on sale. Whenever I visit Manila (I am now a resident of New York), I always visit Sta. Ana Church and pay homage to the Lady.

  • urban roamer – I have nothing much to say, I'm the quiet one...which may be why I wander, write, take photographs, and get into social media too much

    urban roamer

    @Edgardo Gelvezon: if you’re referring to the small Taoist temple across Sta. Ana Church, yes I saw and wrote about it in a previous post; (“The Heritage of Santa Ana part 1”) didn’t really know much about the story behind it. Thanks for sharing!

  • RUBEN S HERNANDO

    Being raised in Sta. Ana, (Del Pan and Medel streets) its really very heartwarming to read articles such as this one. Just by walking around Sta. Ana provides one with a feeling of deja vu or going back in time. Just look at the old houses, at the narrow streets and forget about the pedicabs and close your ears to the sounds from their tailpipes. Close your eyes for a while and visualize horse drawn carriages going through the streets. But dont overdo it. You might find yourself transported back to a time before your parents were born. Of course it cant really happen, but somehow the feeling is there. Yes, Sta. Ana has somehow retained its folksy, rural atmosphere. Old families know each other, each housewife knows her favorite suki or vendor in Sta. Ana Market, knows which doctor to go to in times of emergency, and among the males whom to consult on the horses running come racing day. Its just a pity that the old houses along Herran ( I always call it that, not P. Gil) you know, where the Montessori is, has long been demolished. And horror of horrors, La Ignaciana right beside the old Felipe Calderon school, was turned into I don’t know what monstrosity. I hope that the old houses along Leiva, La Torre, Lamayan, Suter and others will be retained by their owners. Its such a shame if they share the fate of the old houses in Binondo and Sampaloc, becoming derelict and neglected to fall apart by themselves.

  • urban roamer – I have nothing much to say, I'm the quiet one...which may be why I wander, write, take photographs, and get into social media too much

    urban roamer

    just updated this entry with more photos, including that of the Camarin

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