FAST FACTS: Palo Cathedral, Leyte

Sarah Jayne Olan

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FAST FACTS: Palo Cathedral, Leyte
Palo Cathedral, or the Metropolitan Cathedral of Our Lord’s Transfiguration, is one of the structures badly hit by Super Typhoon Yolanda in 2013

MANILA, Philippines – While in Leyte on January 17, Pope Francis is also set to meet with families of survivors of Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan), as well as priests, consecrated persons, and seminarians at Palo Cathedral in Leyte.

Palo Cathedral, or the Metropolitan Cathedral of Our Lord’s Transfiguration, is one of the structures badly hit by the strong typhoon in 2013. The intense wind brought by the strong typhoon caused the roofs of the cathedral to be stripped.

The church was initially built in 1596 by the Jesuits and served as their home for some time. It was then taken over by the Augustinians in 1768, and by the Franciscans in 1843.

In 1850, this church underwent repairs, which included the construction of its two symmetrical towers, under the supervision of Fr Augustin Consuegra. It was hit by a fire and typhoon which caused its roof to be ripped off, and its convent to be destroyed. The church was, however, restored.

The church became a cathedral on March 25, 1938, with Monsignor Manuel Mascariñas serving as its first bishop. During World War II, the cathedral was converted into an evacuation hospital by American Liberation Forces, and was used as refuge of civilians.  

After Haiyan’s havoc, a memorial service for the typhoon’s casualties was held in the cathedral. Bodies were then buried in the cathedral’s grave site. On Christmas eve, Pope Francis sent his Apostolic Nuncio to the country, Giuseppe Pinto, to lead a Mass at the roofless cathedral and to inspect the damage on churches in Eastern Visayas.

The cathedral’s renovation pushed through with support from Phinma Foundation and various donors. The main dome structure was redesigned and restored, while the roof was retrofitted and reinforced.

Apart from Palo Cathedral, other churches and chapels in the country that have been visited by popes in the past include:

Manila Cathedral

  • Blessed Paul VI on November 27, 1970
  • St John Paul II on February 17, 1981

Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church, Baclaran

  • St John Paul II on February 17, 1981

Jaro Cathedral, Iloilo

  • St John Paul II on February 20, 1981

Seminary Chapel of the University of Santo Tomas (UST), Manila

  • St John Paul II on February 13, 1995

For Pope Francis’ visit, apart from Palo Cathedral, the Manila Cathedral and UST were again included in the itinerary. –

SOURCES:, Vatican City, Union Galvasteel Corporation

Learn about the other spots in Pope Francis’ itinerary:

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