The Jesuits arrived in the country in 1581, all the way from Mexico. In 1608, the Jesuits built a parish church to service the Chinese immigrants in Manila. The church is located in the fringes of Chinatown, near Binondo. The Jesuit order were ousted from the country in 1768 upon the order of King Charles III of Spain. All known Jesuits were taken to Spain, then deported to Italy.
It took the Jesuits 90 years to come back to the country, specifically for the tribal communities of Mindanao (Bagobos, Tururays, Maguindanaos) and Jolo. While they were away, the Dominicans took over the ecclesiastical dominion. Several catastrophes tested the structure, including a coterie of earthquakes, but what gutted the original church down to the ground was the Battle of Manila in 1945. This eventually ended the despotic Japanese occupation. Nuestra Senora del Pilar was brought from Spain and became the titular patroness of the Church.
I am not the most religious person in an inherently religious - and very Catholic nation - like the Philippines, but my faith is intact. I always pray for my family and for safe passage during my travels. Though the church, along with the solid symbols of a very ritualistic religion, is a tangible structure that the modern world has all but ignored, I believe in the Omnipresent Being who listens, who intervenes, and who offers solace to troubled souls. Sta. Cruz Church was one of the churches I visited prior to my long haul trip last November.
Here are images of this oasis of calm right in the heart of chaotic Manila.
This is the Eye in the Sky!
|The facade of the church. It faces a water-less fountain (seen below).|
|Lit candles for our intentions.|
|"Cast your burdens upon Me, those who are heavily laden..."|
|Sta. Cruz Church in 1926. This photo only courtesy of the University of Michigan Library (http://www.lib.umich.edu/) and tanawin.wordpress.com.|
|Neglected fountain structure just outside the church grounds.|
Catholic Mass Schedule in Sta. Cruz Parish Church: http://www.mass-schedules.com/catholic-church/271/sta-cruz-parish.html
For inquiries, call (63-2) 733-0245 to 46.