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FAST FACTS: Manila Cathedral

Sarah Jayne Olan

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FAST FACTS: Manila Cathedral


Also called the Manila Metropolitan Cathedral-Basilica, it has been a venue for papal Masses in the country

MANILA, Philippines – Pope Francis is set to say Mass with 2,000 bishops, priests, and consecrated persons at the Manila Cathedral in Intramuros, Manila.

Manila Cathedral, also called the Manila Metropolitan Cathedral-Basilica, has been a venue for papal Masses in the country, with Blessed Paul VI in 1970 and St John Paul II in 1981 saying their Masses.

It is located at Plaza de Roma in Intramuros, Manila, and its current rector is Monsignor Nestor Cerbo.

The Cathedral was initially built as a simple parish in Manila in 1571 by Juan de Vivero, a secular priest, and was dedicated to Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception. Back then, it was simply made of nipa and bamboo.

On December 21, 1581, its status was elevated to a cathedral by Bishop Domingo Salazar. The promotion happened two years after Pope Gregory established the Diocese of Manila, which was put under the supervision of the Archbishop of Mexico. The bishop reconstructed it from wood, nipa and bamboo.

It has been the seat of the Catholic Church in Manila since Pope Clement VIII elevated the Diocese of Manila to a Metropolitan Archdiocese on August 14, 1595.

During St John Paul II’s visit in February 1981, he told then Manila Archbishop Jaime Cardinal Sin that his wish was for the Manila Cathedral to be a Basilica. And just months after, on April 27, indeed it earned the title of Minor Basilica.

From 1581 to 1958, Manila Cathedral was reconstructed several times due to destruction caused by war, fires, typhoons and earthquakes.

In 2012, the Basilica was closed under the orders of Archbishop Gaudencio Cardinal Rosales for another major repair. The renovation, which was completed in 2014, upgraded facilities with LED lighting, sound systems which are digitally operated, and a structural foundation which are carbon-retrofitted.

Manila Cathedral also holds religious artworks and sacred relics of popes and saints, and serves as resting place for the remains of former archbishops in Manila. –

Sources:, Manila Cathedral website, various news websites

Learn about the other spots in Pope Francis’ itinerary:

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