Friday, April 27, 2012

8 Great Churches of Intramuros: Santo Domingo Church


Jewel of the Dominicans, the Santo Domingo Church.

The magnificent Santo Domingo Church was the mother church of the Dominican Order in the Philippines. The Dominicans were the third religious Order to come to the islands in 1587. The Santo Domingo Church hosted the feast of the Our Lady of La Naval de Manila, and it has been said that the Spaniards' victory over the Dutch was attributed to her divine intercession. In 1611, Fr. Miguel de Benavides, a Dominican priest, established the University of Santo Tomas. 

1713 illustration of the Dominican Complex. University of Santo Tomas on the bottom left and Colegio de Santa Rosa on the right. Notice that Plaza Santo Tomas was not yet formed.
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The Neo-Gothic church was actually the fifth church to have been built in the same spot since the Dominican's arrival. The previous churches were destroyed by either earthquakes or fires. The first church built in 1588 lasted only a year. The second church was made of stone and was inaugurated in 1592 but it burned down in 1603. A third church with stone vaults was constructed but again, collapsed during an earthquake in 1610. The construction of the fourth Santo Domingo Church immediately started. The fourth church remained standing for almost 200 years. On June 1862, the church sported a new Neoclassical facade patterned after Christopher Wren's St. Paul's Cathedral in London. After a year, the church collapsed again because of another earthquake, destroying the church and its new facade.

1862, neoclassical facade.
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1868 church designed by Felix Roxas.
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Santo Domingo Church, Intramuros. Notice the different, simpler roof design of the towers.
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The fifth and last church to have been built on the site was the masterpiece of Filipino architect, Felix Roxas. He then went on to design another Intramuros church, the San Ignacio Church, just a few blocks away from Santo Domingo. As a precaution against earthquakes, the upper floors of the church was made of wood and steel, resting on a lower story of stone. Construction started in 1864 and was inaugurated in 1868.

The church's beautiful sacristy.
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Church's intricate wooden entrance door.
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"The Gothic idiom adapted throughout the church was evident in both the exterior and interior-lancet windows, tracery, even the altars and the furniture were embellished with Gothic motifs."

Church's pulpit carved by renowned Filipino sculptor, Isabelo Tampinco.
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"Its dramatic façade was the subject of many reviews precisely because of its grandeur and magnificence. Supported by two rectangular bell towers towers, the main façade boasted of arched, Gothic windows and several niches, one of which, housed the very first wooden image of Our Lady brought by the Dominicans from Mexico in 1587. Accentuated by lancet windows and tracery, the facade achieved a distinctly Gothic aura that was also well-reflected in the church’s amazing interiors. Inside the spacious church, one would have noticed the black-and-white tile flooring of the church and the spiraling columns of the church. The materials used for the columns were “carved from molave, acle and ipil wood. The vaults were made of zinc and galvanized iron with batikuling moldings.”"



View of the retablo mayor from the nave.
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Retablo mayor of the Santo Domingo Church.
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Showing the church's impressive interior.
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"But of course, nothing would be more impressive in any church than its main retablo. Likewise, Sto. Domingo’s large main altar didn’t fail to impress and vivify the congregation. The main altar would boast of thousands of lit candles during solemn rites and was really a treat to see. There were four niches inside the Gothic retablo: one in the center, one at its left, another at its right and one on top of the central niche. The saints that occupy these niches would usually be interchanged. The main altar was wide but also dramatic in its slope ascending to the ceilings. Accentuated with pointed details and arches, it was the gem of the church. The main retablo of Sto. Domingo was also said to have most number of gold and silver ornaments among all of Intramuros’ churches."


Calesas passing by the Neo-gothic wonder.
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View from Plaza Santo Tomas.
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Another view from Plaza Santo Tomas showing the statue of Fr. Benavides, founder of the University of Santo Tomas.
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Colored postcard showing a fully lit church, probably during the Feast of the Our Lady of La Naval de Manila. University of Santo Tomas on the left, Colegio de Santa Rosa on the right.
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Reminds you of some medieval European city, no?
View from the back. Aduana on the left.
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The Santo Domingo Church was another casualty of World War II. In fact, it was the first structure in Intramuros that was destroyed by Japanese bombs in 1941. The Our Lady of La Naval de Manila was spared because it was hidden in one of the church's vaults. 

Ruins of the Santo Domingo Church after the war.
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The church in ruins after the 1941 bombing by the Japanese. Notice that the University of Santo Tomas and other buildings on the right are still standing.
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War torn University of Santo Tomas, Santo Domingo Church and Colegio de Santa Rosa after the Liberation of Manila, 1945. The statue of Fr. Benavides survived and was transferred to the present UST campus.
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Today, the Dominicans reside on the grounds of the new Santo Domingo Church (1954) in Quezon City. The grounds of the church is now occupied by an ugly box building of the Bank of the Philippine Islands. 

Special thanks to http://hechoayer.wordpress.com/ whose entry about the Santo Domingo Church has helped me write this entry.

5 comments:

  1. Nice compilation of photos. Keep on posting.

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  2. I love the pictures and commentary and agree with you wholeheartedly about ugly buildings replacing architectural jewels like the old sto domingo church.

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  3. Your post reminds me of my own post. The descriptions sound very familiar.

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    1. It is similar cause the quoted and italicized parts, I got form your blog. Maybe it was wrong of me to not acknowledge you. My sincerest apologies!

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  4. Love the photos, it's a good idea sharing this. Good Job!

    ReplyDelete