Molo Church

Molo Church
Church of Santa Ana in Molo, Iloilo, 2013 (Photo by Betty Lalana and Lino Arboleda, Ortigas Foundation Library Collection)

Roman Catholic Parish Church of Santa Ana / Location: Molo, Iloilo / Built 1831

Molo was a parian (Chinese community), one of several established by the Spaniards in certain large towns to restrict the movements of Chinese businessmen involved in the lucrative textile industry of the late 18th and early 19th centuries. The introduction of sugar as a commercial export crop during the mid-19th century further consolidated the hold of the Chinese on Iloilo’s retail trade. The parish of Molo, run by the secular clergy, was established in 1795 for the Christianized Chinese. During the 19th century a large church was built, probably to replace an earlier one built around the time of the parish’s foundation.

Molo Church is the best known of the secular clergy’s architectural works. It was built in 1831 during the incumbency of Pablo Montano and completed under Agapito Buenaflor. Jose Manuel Locsin, a local builder, supervised construction. The church combines neo-Gothic and neoclassic motifs. The facade is tall and narrow, flanked by bell towers on either side which terminate in high-pitched roofs with Gothic finials. However, instead of a lancet arch for an entrance, a Roman arch leads to the church’s vestibule and its arcaded nave. True to the mixture of styles, the arcade’s columns terminate in Corinthian capitals. These columns were originally made of carved hardwood, but around 1987 these were changed to cement replicas. The columns are decorated with statues of female saints, earning Molo the reputation of being the church of women saints in consonance with its patron, Santa Ana, mother of the Virgin Mary. The colonnade divides the church into three—a central nave and two aisles. The colonnade terminates in retablos in the neo-Gothic style, built ca 1930 by an unknown carver from Cebu. The central retablo houses the image of the patroness Santa Ana. The varnished retablos show the natural colors of wood and contrast sharply with other neo-Gothic altars, like those in the church of Maribojoc, Bohol and the San Sebastian Church, which are polychromed and gilded. The semicircular dome covering the sanctuary is painted with biblical scenes.

At the transept crossing, a pair of pulpits in the neo-Gothic style have been built facing each other. The precise liturgical use for this arrangement remains obscure but it has been suggested that this was for the dramatic reading of the Passion of the Lord during Holy Week. The church is well maintained, the gilding and varnishing of its altars have been refurbished but there has been no noticeable or major change in the church’s structure.

Molo church was designated a National Historical Landmark by the National Historical Institute in 1992.

SOURCE: Manila News-Intellegencer

Originally posted 2011-11-22 19:47:15.