Monday, April 23, 2012

8 Great Churches of Intramuros: San Nicolas de Tolentino Church

Iglesia de San Nicolas de Tolentino aka Recollect Church

The Iglesia de San Nicolas de Tolentino was the home of the Augustinian Recollect Order. The church was the Order's main headquarters in Asia. The Recollects are a reformed branch of the Augustinian Order. They arrived in Manila in 1606. It formerly housed the Nuestro Padre Jesús Nazareno or more commonly known as the Black Nazarene. Yes, the Black Nazarene as in the one in Quiapo today. The Recollects brought it to the country in 1606. The church was known for its stately ambiance, often compared to its neighbor, the San Agustin Church. 

1713 illustration showing the church grounds and the attached convent

Located along Calle Cabildo, it was famous for its beautiful interiors, its 5-tier belfry and its elaborately carved facade. The church's facade

"This late 18th-century church was characterized by a four-story bell tower of diminishing dimensions built to the left of the church. The church was cruciform, with a crossing tower covering the intersection of main nave and transept. The church facade was similar in temper to the Franciscan’s but less the ornate and more architectural.

It was the church interior, however, that distinguished the church. The main altar was in the Baroque style. Divided into niches and stories, the gilded retablo alternated images and painted canvases. In this church, the famous Recollect organ builder, Fray Diego Cera, who built the Las Piñas bamboo organ, constructed his masterpiece. He built a massive pipe organ, outfitting the nave with pipes some ingenuously hidden so that when sounded, the walls itself seemed to sing.In the 19th century, the church walls were painted with figurative drawings. One on the transept walls depicted the Pope and St. Peter’s in Rome."

The 5-tier belfry
Interior of the church before the major renovation in the 1930s
Church interior showing the ornate retablo of the church
Pipe organ created by Fr. Diego Cera, 1798

Again, this church was heavily damaged because of the Second World War. The Black Nazarene was transferred to the Quiapo Church and the Augustinian Recollects moved out of the walled city and found its new home in the San Sebastian Church also in Quiapo.

The church in ruins, late 1940s to early 1950s

After the liberation, the church's ruined shell was still intact but in 1959, it was totally demolished. In 1976, Manila Bulletin bought the lot and set up their offices there.


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    1. Hi your blog really helped me in my report in school! May I just ask if you know the meaning of the letters (P) like in the 1713 illustration map? I saw some letters too like S and V in other map of the same look*