Santa Cruz Church
History and museums
Santa Cruz Church is a Baroque church located in Plaza Santa Cruz in Santa Cruz district, Manila, Philippines. It was built when the arrabal (suburb) of Santa Cruz was established by the Jesuits in the early 17th century. The church had undergone many repairs and reconstruction, with the last reconstruction done in the 1950s. Today, the church architecture employs a California Spanish Mission façade silhouette with the usual Filipino (Asian-Hispanic) baroque ornamentation. The church facade is topped with an effigy statue of Our Lady of the Pillar, the patroness of the church whose feast happens during the second week of October.
The Jesuits built the first Catholic church in the area where the present Santa Cruz Parish stands on June 20, 1619. The original church design was made of stone and wood. The Jesuits enshrined the image of Our Lady of Pilar in 1643 to serve the predominantly Chinese residents in the area. The first church was made of stone and wood was built in the 17th century. On June 3, 1863 an earthquake destroyed the church. Fr. Agustin de Mendoza began reconstruction work on the church in 1868.
The church facade is characteristically Baroque with Ionic piers vertically dividing the first two levels in three parts. Three semicircular arch doorways form as main entrance to the church. A Celtic-like window flanked by small semicircular windows is found at the center of the second level. Forming as the pediment, the topmost level has its raking cornice in undulating liens emanating from the broken pediment found above the statued niche. The domed belfry rises on the right in six levels.
The original structure of the church was twice damaged by earthquakes and then completely destroyed during the Battle of Manila. The present building of the church, reconstructed in 1957, was designed to reflect the Spanish baroque style.