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Manila's Churches
(Part 2)

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The oldest church in Manila stands at the corner of calles Palacio and Real in the Walled City. Here the order of St. Augustine dedicated its first building on June 24, 1571. Two years later this church was burned, and in 1599 the present building was begun under the direction of Juan Marcias and the famous lay brother, Antonio Herrera, the son of the Spanish architect of the Escurial.

The strength of the wall is attested by the fact that it has withstood all storms and earthquakes which have ruined so many fine buildings through three centuries.

The interior is a broad nave with eight chapels. The vault is unique in that it is all hewn stone, being said to be the only one in the whole archipelago so constructed. Here lie the remains of Salcedo and of Legaspi who died in 1573.

The church of the Recoletos Order at the south end of calle Cabildo is probably the next in age, the present buildings having been completed early in the seventeenth century. These were preceded by buildings located to the south where the Bagumbayan now runs. The striking feature of the present church in the corner tower, which is of great symmetrical beauty and massive strength. The interior is well furnished and the convent has a few view of the Luneta and the bay.

The church of the Franciscans is located on calles Solana and San Francisco. It is massive in construction and contains a chapel decorated in exquisite taste, and adorned by some fine paintings at recent date.

The present building was finished in 1739. Its architecture is of the Tuscan form, so common with all churches of the Franciscan order Across the court is the church of the Third order built in 1733. with two fine towers, but rarely open for visitors.

In the Walled City three churches are worthy of attention, whether the visitor has an hour or a week. to spend in exploration. Of these the cathedral takes precedence and is best known of all the shrines of the city. Like most of the other large buildings the present structure is the successor of three or four predecessors which were destroyed by earthquakes. The last destruction was in 1863 and the present building is about a quarter of a century old. Its cost was $288,000, borne in equal parts by Spanish treasury, church funds and local gifts. Its architecture is of the Byzantine style, and the graceful columns, the lofty dome, the vaulted nave and aisles, and the massive facade are impressive examples of the Roman influence with the decorations consistently executed. It has nine entrances, three large chapels, many small chapels and the choir and organ are situated in the middle of the nave. Seven years were occupied in building.

To the sightseer the cathedral is one of the most imposing but least interesting of the churches of Manila. It is too new, and it has no convent attached, with musty records and faded pictures to stir the imagination. It is a cathedral rather than a church, and is usually empty of worshippers and seems more like a monument than a shrine.

The bijou of Intramuros is the Jesuit Church on calle Arzobispo. It is thoroughly modern in design and execution, and its exterior is destitute of comeliness, but the interior leaves nothing to ask in ravishing beauty of decoration. The scheme is wrought in carved molave and the design and finish of the work are of high artistic merit. The ceiling is a lace work of panneling, the columns and arches are woven about with exquisite tracery of leaf and scroll and the figure work is natural and life-like. The pulpit is a work of special merit and is worth going a long distance to see. Its bas-reliefs of gospel subjects are executed with a fineness of detail that is the more remarkable when one is informed that the work was all done by native artists under the direction, of course, of the missionary architect.

The sacristy is a room of marvelous beauty and the altar would be remarkable as a work of art in any city. The gallery is high and well-lighted and the effect of the whole church is one of a beauty that causes the beholder to drink in an unfailing soul satisfaction. An American priest is usually present and ready to extend every courtesy to the earnest visitor.

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