The Feminist Church, the old, historic Church of St Anne Molo, Iloilo

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The old, historic Church of St Anne in Molo, is a must see when you visit this area of the Philippines. It is often referred to as the Feminist Church because all the statues in the church are statues of Female Saints.

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The Feminist Church, the old, historic Church of St Anne Molo, Iloilo

  1. 1. 1 photographed and written byphotographed and written by:: Fergus DucharmeFergus Ducharme,, assisted by:assisted by: Joemarie AcallarJoemarie Acallar andand Nilo JimenoNilo Jimeno.. proudly present:proudly present: The Old, historic Church of Saint Anne,The Old, historic Church of Saint Anne, The Feminist Church, Molo, Iloilo CityThe Feminist Church, Molo, Iloilo City
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  3. 3. 3 The driving distance from our jumping off point at the SM City parking lot in Iloilo to the church in Molo is only 5 or 10 kilometres, which translates into a driving time of about ¼ hour to ½ hour.
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  5. 5. 5 The church is located in ‘suburban’ Iloilo and faces one of the most beautiful plazas I have seen. The fact that the plaza just underwent a 7 million pesos refurbishing might help a little – but that plaza is something to behold. It is dominated by a pavilion ‘housing’ the statues of six Greek Goddesses. This photo was taken from the church’s main entrance.
  6. 6. 6 The Goddesses include:
  7. 7. 7 Aphrodite: Goddess of Love, Beauty, Desire, Fertility, Prosperity & Victory Hera: Goddess of Marriage, Protection of Families & Married Women
  8. 8. 8 Demeter: Goddess of Agriculture, Horticulture, Grain & The Harvest Artemis: Goddess of Hunting, Wilderness, Animals, Young Girls & Colonists
  9. 9. 9 Hestia: Goddess of Health, Home & Cooking Athena: Goddess of Wisdom, Warfare, Courage, Handicrafts & Reason
  10. 10. 10 The plaza shows a definite 'European' influence providing a vibrant, lush and tranquil environment in the midst of the 'chaos' of the surrounding area. As we mentioned the plaza faces this wonderful church and its convento.
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  13. 13. 13 The church is in Molo, a district of Iloilo City, it used the be what would be known as Chinatown. The name Molo is a derivation of the Spanish word Moro which translates to Muslim. The Moro tribes people, as we have previously seen in Miagao, Guimbal, Tigbauan and other locations along the shoreline would raid the settlements and take prisoners to be resold as slaves when they returned to their own areas. To many of us who have experience with the Chinese people, we know that they have difficulty with the letter R and often pronounce it as an L…hence it is said that the Chinese of Molo, in the very early years, could not pronounce the word Moro properly and in fact pronounced it as Molo and therefore the name we know today. The Church was built under the guidance of Father Pablo Montaño starting in 1831. It was completed by Father Agapito Buenaflor under the direction of Don Jose Manuel Locsin. Two massive belfries contain about 30 bells ranging in size from smaller hand bells to large standard sized bells.
  14. 14. 14 The church was built in the Gothic Style which is exemplified by it great use of columns within the church itself, all of which are very plain but topped with wonderful appears to be Iconic Capitals which remind us of the column “being dressed as a woman who might adorn her body with beads, leaves and flower”. The grooves in the columns themselves, which are called flutes remind us of the folds of a woman’s dress. Quite appropriate for a church termed as the “Feminist Church”. St Anne’s is called the feminist church because all 16 statues along the main aisle of the church are of female saints.
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  23. 23. 23 The Main aisle seen from the back of the church is truly magical, it’s actually awe inspiring…when you see the columns supporting the saints’ niches and the beautiful domed roof throughout, leading to the sanctuary and the main dome above it…it is truly something to see and appreciate.
  24. 24. 24 As we move closer to the transept, we see the two ornate and intricately carved pulpits on either side of the Nave.
  25. 25. 25 Venturing to climb up the narrow steps into the west side pulpit we get a wonderful overview of the church at the level of the niches containing the statues of the Saints, towards to the main entrance way of the church and then towards the Sanctuary itself and the main Altar area.
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  27. 27. 27 We arrive at the crossing and are struck by the side altars in the area of the transepts to the left and right. To the right or east, we see two massive wooden altars, again each of these altars is intricately carved.
  28. 28. 28 This altar in the above photo contains the statues of The Sacred Heart of Jesus and is flanked by statues of St Francis (right) and St Joseph (left). Photos of two more female Saints also adorn the altar, they are St Edith Stein and St Josephine Bakhita. The communion railing which crosses the whole church is also a magnificent piece of woodworking. The other side altars are just as beautiful.
  29. 29. 29 The photo of St Candida Maria de Jesus, who is the foundress of the Congregation of the Daughters of Jesus (Hijas de Jesus) which is dedicated to the Christian education of children and youth and the advancement of women. The Congregation is very active in education, here in the Philippines. If we move just a few feet towards the centre of the crossing and look up we see the exquisite dome and related artworks.
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  31. 31. 31 In each ‘corner’ of the dome is a fresco representing one of the four evangelists. St Mathew St John St Luke St Mark In addition to these paintings of the evangelists on four of the sides of the octagon are two circular occuli (a total of 8 such windows) and the alternating panels have saintly paintings in them. We have now arrived at the altar, which features St Anne flanked by the Blessed Virgin and St Joseph.
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  33. 33. 33 The artwork involved in the creation of this altar is stunning, from the woodwork, to the carvings, to the paintings and the statues. And the altar is flanked by two massive paintings:
  34. 34. 34 As we move towards the exit, we take one more look towards the altar and see it is now lighted and a mass is beginning…
  35. 35. 35 A view from the rear of the church up one of the side aisles, give us a good view of the columns and the west side, side altar.
  36. 36. 36 Just as we arrive at the narthex or lobby, there are a few items of interest which capture our attention. The first is an old damaged column at the foot of which rests a damaged bell. The bell itself is a survivor of the supposedly accidental bombing of the church by American Forces in 1943 who were fighting to rid the area of the Japanese occupiers. As a result of this accident, the churches two belfries were destroyed. And this bell, one of the 30 in the belfries was miraculously the only one seriously damaged. The bell was original produced in a local foundry and installed in the belfry in 1869.
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  40. 40. 40 Immediately across from the damaged bell, we spot two statues on wheeled carts that are likely used in processions through the parish at Fiesta time. They are the statues of Mary, Queen of the World and Jesus who has fallen to his knees while carrying his cross.
  41. 41. 41 In the lobby itself, we see this plaque on the wall commemorating some of the calamities that have struck the church during its history. It should be noted, however, that there was only minor damage cause to it by the Lady CayCay earthquake of 1948 which destroyed or seriously damaged many other churches in the region.
  42. 42. 42 Just before reaching the main doors, on our left under the western belfry we find the church’s baptistery, in a room that is currently undergoing repairs and refreshment.
  43. 43. 43 Opposite the Baptistery in a similar room across the lobby is the access to the choir loft, with its magnificent stained glass window, which also overlooks the plaza.
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  45. 45. 45 And, then we leave the church through the main entrance.
  46. 46. 46 But we’re not finished yet. We move to the west side of the church to the area between the church itself and the convento. We find there, several items of great interest. The first being the shrine for Blessed Pedro Calungsod who will be canonised in Rome on October 21,2012. Blessed Pedro will be the second Filipino Saint. He was martyred in Guam.
  47. 47. 47 Pedro Calungsod was a teenage native of the Visayas region of the Philippines. Very little is known about him. We do not even know where exactly in the Visayas he came from or who his parents were. He was just one of the boy catechists who went with some Spanish Jesuit missionaries from the Philippines, headed by Fr. Diego Luís de San Vitores, S.J., to the Ladrones Islands in the western North Pacific Ocean in 1668 to evangelize the Chamorros (part of today’s Guam). In that century, the Jesuits in the Philippines used to train and employ young boys as competent catechists and versatile assistants in their missions. The Ladrones at that time was part of the old Diocese of Cebu. Pedro worked with Fr. Diego in those islands from June 15, 1668 until April 2, 1672 when they were both killed by two natives on account of the Christian Faith. For the complete story on Blessed Pedro please visit the official website at www. http://pedrocalungsod.org
  48. 48. 48 As we continue through the area, we see at the far back the entrance to the Adoration Centre.
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  52. 52. 52 As we leave this place of quiet contemplation we see to our right another shrine, this time to Our Lady of Fatima.
  53. 53. 53 And a last look at the area, we see the walls of the old church and its distinctive roof line.
  54. 54. 54 Looking forward we see that massive western belfry and it artistically pointed gothic inspired & influenced roof.
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  57. 57. 57 One last look at the impressive façade and the plaque which commemorate the naming the church as a National Historic Site…
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  59. 59. 59 Some rare finds, some very old photos of SSt Anne’s Church…
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  61. 61. 61 If you have suggestions or recommendations on how we can improve our service for you please send your ideas along to: info@historicphilippines.com

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