City of Manila

The Vatican’s Manila Outpost

In the current flurry of activity in the papal visit of Pope Francis, one spot that has been getting much of the attention in the media and in the public at this time is the place where he is staying, the Apostolic Nunciature to the Philippines in Manila.

(courtesy of

In fact, the Nunciature also played home to the previous papal visits of Paul VI and John Paul II, following a standard procedure that visiting pontiffs would usually stay at the apostolic nunciature of the country they visit if there is such.

Unfortunately, there is not much documentation, text or photos, of the Apostolic Nunciature here as the structure is obscured by high walls and and trees block the view of what it looks like. It has been standing in quiet existence most of the time, in the midst of the flurry of urban activity that surrounds it, not to mention being located in the City of Manila itself.

The Apostolic Nunciature along Taft Avenue near the intersection of Quirino Avenue and San Andres Street is actually an embassy of sorts of the Vatican City in the country. Being a sovereign state itself, Vatican City has presence in countries it has diplomatic relations with, without the consular functions an embassy or consulate normally does like issuing visas. It also serves as the residence as well of the Apostolic Nuncio, the Vatican’s ambassador of sorts to the country, so he actually lives and works in the same building, so to speak.

(courtesy of Manila Bulletin)

It’s been said that the building was first built in the 1940s, one of the few remaining structures in the Malate area from that era that are still standing, reflecting the old glory of the district as the city’s millionaire’s row where many affluent families lived. Additional works were made on the structure by a National Artist, Architect Jose Maria Zaragoza.

For the rest of us who are unable to see what’s inside this storied structure, the closest we can get for now are the photos belowcourtesy of a friend online which were taken from an article, “Diplomatic Homes: The Apostolic Nunciature in Manila” first published in 1982. Considering the length of time that passed from the initial publication, the photos are not a guarantee that the nuncio’s interiors remain so today. Nevertheless, they should provide a good idea of what the Apostolic Nunciature in Manila looks like beyond the walls and trees that obscure it and get to appreciate it in a new light.

acknowledgements as well to Stephen John Pamorada for sharing the photos, the whole set can be found here

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