Exhibit highlights Manila Cathedral through 60 years after World War II
History buffs and the Catholic faithful who want to know more about the Manila Cathedral in Intramuros will be given a peek—literally—into its rich history through an exhibit of relics and memorabilia largely from the post-World War II years of the centuries-old church.
Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle, the archbishop of Manila, and the new papal nuncio, Archbishop Gabriele Caccia, opened the exhibit inside the cathedral’s smaller chapels on Friday to mark the beginning of the yearlong celebration of the church’s 60th postwar anniversary in 2018.
The opening of the exhibit, “Manila Cathedral: A Legacy of Architecture and Faith,” and the launching of the Manila Cathedral’s own logo, coincided with the Archdiocese of Manila’s celebration of the Feast of the Immaculate Conception.
The iconic church is dedicated to the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary and celebrates its feast day on Dec. 8 as well.
“The cathedral captures the history and character of the Filipino people. Many times it was razed to the ground by fires, earthquakes and a war, but it refuses to disappear,” Tagle said in his homily.
Among those on exhibit in the cathedral’s St. Jude, Sta. Potenciana and Blessed Souls chapels, are photographs of the old church and details of its stained glass windows, newspaper clippings and vestments worn by priests—all witnesses to its colorful history.
While the exhibit spans the cathedral’s entire history from 1571, it focuses on the years after its postwar reconstruction was completed in 1958.
In his homily, Tagle said the cathedral that stands in Intramuros today is the eighth rebuilding of the 446-year-old church.
The cathedral is the seat of the Archdiocese of Manila, which began as a suffragan diocese of the Archdiocese of Mexico until 1595, when Pope Clement VIII created the Archdiocese of Manila.
Tagle told Pope Francis during the Pontiff’s visit in January 2015 that the Manila Cathedral “speaks of the Filipino faith.”
Just as the church has been reconstructed through the centuries, the Filipino Catholic faithful “will keep reconstructing our lives because we believe that it is God who has a design for history, not us,” he said.
“Like Mary, we say, we are the humble servants of the Lord and we would cooperate on how He reconstructs the world,” Tagle said.
During the noontime Mass, Tagle welcomed and introduced Archbishop Caccia, saying Friday’s gathering was “made more special by the presence” of the Vatican’s diplomatic representative in Manila.
Among the items on exhibit are old reports documenting the efforts to raise funds to rebuild the cathedral and the trowel that was used in laying the cornerstone when the four-year reconstruction work began in 1954. Some vestments on display show details of a priest’s attire.
There is also an all-white scale model of the present design of the cathedral, as well as old plans and artifacts highlighting the church’s rich history.
Tagle urged the faithful to visit the historic cathedral, which is considered as the mother of many churches under the Archdiocese of Manila, more often.
“Feel the prayers uttered here for the past 400 years, feel the pulse of faith and resilience and experience the blessedness of our Blessed Mother and of this church,” he added.
Tagle also led the unveiling of the cathedral’s own logo—the façade of the cathedral which was not destroyed during the war on the upper crest, and a moon and 12 stars on its lower half.
In past years, the Manila Cathedral used the insignia of the Manila archbishop, and was eventually given the privilege to use the papal emblem when it was elevated to a basilica.
In recent years, it has also used an image of the cathedral as its seal.
The moon and stars symbolize the Virgin Mary, while its sky-blue color is a tribute to the Marian character of the church, said the cathedral’s vice rector, Fr. Kali Llamado.
The new theme of the cathedral is “First Our Church, Forever Our Mother.”
“The cathedral therefore is not only a church, a beautiful building where we gather, but a church as our mother, teaching and taking care of the life of her children,” he said during the launching.
The logo, designed by Bluethumb Creative Agency, takes the form of a crest “as a reminder and how it has endured with the people in spite of crisis and calamity.”
The exhibit is open daily from 6 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
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