Sunday, August 16, 2015

San Fernando de Dilao Parish Church (Paco Church)

Paco Church before it was burned (1945)

In 1580, the first church built was made of nipa and bamboo and was originally dedicated to Our Lady of Purification. 

Fr. Juan de Garrovillas of the Franciscan order has rebuilt the church using stone materials in 1599-1601. 

The neighbourhood's name Dilao refers to a native shrub once used to dye textiles yellow (current Filipino orthography: dilaw, "yellow").

Paco Church after it was burned (1946)

In October 3, 1603, the church was attacked and burned by Chinese. It was repaired in 1606 and rebuilt with stone materials by Don Francisco Gómez de Arellano.

In 1762, the church suffered another destruction when the English forces who occupied Manila burned the church. 
In 1791, a temporary church made of bamboo and nipa was erected.

Fr. Joaquin Segui constructed the stone convent in 1793-1794 which was repaired in 1854. In 1880, this convent was ruined by an earthquake. Fr. Bernardo dela Concepcion began the construction of a new church in 1809 and completed in 1814. It was called “Antigua Iglesia de Paco” while Fr. Miguel Richar built the bell tower in 1839-1841. In 1852 and 1880, earthquakes destroyed the church.

Paco Church during the American forces occupying Manila (1762)
Fr. Gilberto Martin began the reconstruction of the church in 1881. When this was about to be completed, a typhoon in 1892 partly destroyed the church. In 1896, Fr. Martin completed the reconstruction work.

World War II top view of Paco (1899)
On February 5, 1899, during the Fil-Am War, the church was bombed and completely burned. A Belgian priests of the 
Congregatio Immaculati Cordis Mariae took possession of the burned church in 1909 and in the following year, Fr. Raymundo Esquinet worked for the construction of a temporary church made of concrete at the site near the destroyed church. In 1924, Fr. Jose Billie proposed a newer and much larger church. The cornerstone of the present church was laid in August 1931

Paco Church old altar (2009)
Paco Church altar (present  photo)

A notable custom of the church today is the longstanding religious devotion to Nuestro Santo Padre Jesus del Sepulcro also known as Santo Entierro, a statue of the
dead Christencased in a special wood and glass casket that is common to many Filipino churches.

On February 7, 2012, the church was designated as Pro-Cathedral of the "Archdiocese of Manila" until the structural renovations of Cathedral-Basilica of the Immaculate Conception are completed on April 9, 2014.

Paco Church (present photo)

The best way to preserve this landmark is to relocate the extra vendors away from the church. Because the church is a sacred place and is in need of space in order for people to have their own peace of mind.