Santo Domingo Church has a total floor area of 3,300 square meters with a dimension of 85 meters in length, 40 meters in width and 25 meters in height, making it the biggest church in Metro Manila and one of the biggest churches in Asia.
One will be surprised to find out that despite my being a natural usi and for being an erstwhile resident of the Sampaloc area in the late 90s, it was only last Saturday, December 1, 2012 that I was able to visit the Santo Domingo Church personally. I was amazed by its size, thinking that it was smaller from the outside and admittedly, I was star-strucked when I saw that the Church was huge inside (no wonder some celebrities were married in this church) and the stained glass panels are simply remarkable.
The original Santo Domingo Church was built on a piece of land in Intramuros bought by Manila Bishop Domingo de Salazar in 1587. There were four previous churches and these churches were destroyed either by fire or an earthquake. The Neo-Gothic styled Santo Domingo Church was the fifth church built in the area and was made by the famous architect Felix Roxas y Arroyo. The Church was completed in 1868 and its grandiose façade represents the glorious days of Intramuros and as one author says: “Santo Domingo Church of Pre-War Intramuros is a reminder and symbol of Intramuros’ once centuries-famed glory, which was instantly reduced to rubble in only a couple of days.” Since 1588, the Santo Domingo Church is the home of the miraculous and enigmatic image of the Our Lady of La Naval brought by the Dominicans from Mexico.
After World War II, the church was relocated to its present site in Quezon Avenue, Quezon City. The church was inaugurated in 1954 and since then, it has been among the notable churches in the country. The present church is well-known for its modern architecture and design by José María Zaragoza. Aside from this, the church was described by UST Professor del Castillo-Noche in an Inquirer article as “reminiscent of mission-style architecture, with a fusion of Romanesque articulation and Gothic verticality.” Additionally, I am surprised to find out that the art works that I am fascinated with are made by Carlos “Botong” Francisco (the murals depicting the life of St. Dominic) and Galo Ocampo (the stained-glass windows). Owe to its contribution to history, architecture and the arts among others, Santo Domingo Church was recently named as a National Cultural Treasure.
The church combines Spanish colonial and modern architectural design. The church also features Mission-style architecture with Romanesque and Gothic designs. The Dominicans commissioned then an architecture student from UST named José María Zaragoza.
The feast day of Santo Domingo de Guzman is celebrated on August 8. The feast day of Our Lady of La Naval de Manila is celebrated every second Sunday of October.
The top portal of the church is another Monti bas-relief depicting the battles of La Naval.
The bas-relief of Santo Domingo was made by the Italian sculptor and expatriate Francesco Monti.
The church’s main entrance.
The Church’s main altar.
I just noticed that there’s a beautiful painting on the top of the center altar. It turns out (which means, I poked around) that the murals were made by no other than the National Artist Carlos “Botong” Francisco. It depicts the life of Santo Domingo de Guzman, the founder of the Order of the Preachers also known as the Dominicans. These murals are below the murals of the Four Evangelists which are in brown tones made by Vicente Garcia Llamas. (I should have poked around before going. *winks*)
In the Inquirer interview, Fr. Guiseppe-Pietro Arsciwals pointed out that the Santo Domingo Church holds the distinction of being the “only church that have no columns in the middle so you will have a clear vision of it (inside).” And I was star-strucked by this when I reached the near front of the altar.
The side altar of the Nuestra Señora del Santissimo Rosario, La Naval de Manila.
Carved in 1593, the image of the Our Lady of La Naval de Manila is now considered as the oldest ivory carving in the Philippines.
It is one of those rare instances that I was able to take a picture of an altar which is as clear as this, yes, there’s a glass between us.
La Naval de Manila refers to the 17th century naval battles between the Dutch armada and the inadequately equipped Spanish and Filipino military. The victory of the Spanish and Filipino defenders was attributed to the intercession of the Our Lady of the Rosary in Intramuros. The naval victory of 1646 has been commemorated since then in an annual festivity every October. The image is also said to be miraculous , since it converted a Chinese pagan to Catholicism and it has been the patroness of the galleons which were “outfitted as war ships” and were later renamed Rosario and Encarnacion.
Side altar of San Martin de Pores
The pipe organ was made by Fr. Gregorio Hontomin, OP. The pipe organ was inaugurated on June 9, 1959. It was from the Chapel of St. Albert the Great’s Priory in Hong Kong.
There’s an ongoing campaign in Santo Domingo, one can send donation to the church for its restoration. You can call 712-62-71 to 74 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. The newly restored pipe organ of the church was played on last December 14, 2012.
Confessional rooms in solid wood.
Awe-struck by this window.
Stained glass window by Galo Ocampo. The windows showcase the original 15 stations of the Holy Rosary, as well as the Battle of Lepanto and La Naval de Manila. It also shows the martyrdom of Dominican Saints: San Vicente Liem de la Paz and San Francisco Capillas.
Below are the pictures of the Museo de Santo Domingo
This is the hallway of the giant mission complex. We entered it through the side altar door. That’s my friend and tour guide of the day Saleng. 🙂
The Museo de Santo Domingo houses valuable objects like centuries old gold, silver and ivory crucifixes, rosaries and tabernacles which were used in the old church in Intramuros. Additionally, somewhere in the church’s complex, Fr. Guiseppe-Pietro Arsciwals said that there are pieces of jewelry and other treasures presented to the Virgin Mary. There are also pre-war ivory heads and hands of several statutes of the saints which are stored in a vault. The coffee table book “The Saga of La Naval: Triumph of a People’s Faith” details the donations of old, rich families like the Roxases, Quezons and Madrigals.
According to the Philippine Daily Inquirer report: “With a controversy involving illegal ivory trade in the Philippines making the headlines, Arsciwals quickly added that all ivory icons in the church had been in existence long before the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Fauna and Flora (CITES) imposed a ban on international trade in ivory in 1981.”
Original lay out of the church with a note in Spanish by its architect José María Zaragoza.
A caption in the museum says: “On December 27, 1941, Japanese bombers destroyed the Santo Domingo Church in Intramuros. The image of Our Lady of the Rosary La Naval de Manila was evacuated to the new site of the University of Santo Tomas in Sampaloc, Manila. In 1958, the image of Our Lady was transferred, in a solemn procession to the the new Santo Domingo Church in Quezon City. (Picture from hechoayer.wordpress.com)
The scale model of the old church.
Unfortunately, Sto. Domingo Church was the very first casualty of Intramuros during the Second World War. It was reduced to rubble in 1941 after being a direct hit of Japanese bombs when the new invaders came just days after they bombed Pearl Harbor. Luckily, the miraculous and beloved of Nuestra Señora del Santissimo Rosario was spared because it had been kept in the church’s vault. Throughout the Japanese occupation and even after, only the outer walls and a part of the façade was left standing, all of its interiors gone forever. In 1954, a new Sto. Domingo was built in Quezon Avenue in Quezon City and since then, the feast of La Naval has been celebrated there. On the other hand, the Dominicans sold the Intramuros property to the Philippine American Insurance Company in 1946. Afterwards, it was sold to the Far East Bank and Trust Company. Nowadays, a Bank of the Philippine Islands branch occupies what was once the beautiful church of Sto. Domingo. (Words from: hechoayer.wordpress.com)
This was used during the 1907 Canonical coronation of the Our Lady of La Naval de Manila.
Fr. Arsciwals pointed out that “while devotees of Our Lady of Manaoag would offer her dresses, it is different in the case of Our Lady of La Naval, they would offer her jewelry. The collection includes a locket which is described as: “studded with small diamonds, seed pearls and colored gems.” It is said that a certain Ana Rojas from Calumpit, Bulacan offered it to the Virgin Mary in the 19th century. Additionally, the National Artist medallion of Marian devotee Nick Joaquin was donated to the Virgin Mary. The said medallion was affixed to the statute’s foot before Joaquin died in 2004.
Caption: “Praying aided by beads…. It was only in the year 1214 that the Church received the rosary in its present form through St. Dominic, who is said to have received it from the Blessed Virgin as a means of converting the Albigensians and other heretics. From then on, the Dominicans have been among the most zealous promoters of the devotion.
The Chinese sculptor who carved the present image was a pagan, but after working on the image he was converted to Christianity. Many tried to make a replica of it but nobody could reproduce a worthy likeness of it.
Looking at the church through the arch.
The church’s courtyard.
The hallway leading to the main entrance. The walls are adorned by wooden carvings of Dominicans saints.
Of wooden doors
And the angels.
Side façade of the church.
The convent—“Santo Domingo Church is a complex that includes the mother house of the Filipino Dominicans; It is the nerve center of Dominican activities in the archipelago.”