Friday, March 7, 2014

St Augustine Metropolitan Cathedral and The Century-old Stained Glass Windows

Acknowledged as the Seat of the Archdiocese of Cagayan de Oro City, the St. Augustine Metropolitan Cathedral is the prominent Catholic Church of the city.
According to the historical records of XU Museum (Xavier University- Museo de Oro), the Old Cathedral of St. Augustine was built early 1634. Unfortunately, in the same year, Sultan Kudarat renewed attacks against Cagaiang Village through his Maranao subjects that succeeded in entering the village. They ransacked the people's houses, stripped the church and convento of their contents and burned down the whole village.
A painting canvas depicting the Old St. Augustine Cathedral with the image of the "BIRHEN SA KOTA"

After this event, a new church was constructed presumably of wood, bamboo and cogon grass. But in the year 1649, the native population living adjacent to Cagayan who were rebelling against Spain, put the church to torch again. It was rebuilt with the same material and stood for 129 years. However, the church was burned again in 1778 and was rebuilt and razed in 1831.
The image above shows the interior of the Old Cathedral of St. Augustine

Ten years later, in 1841, the church was rebuilt using more sturdy materials such as molave wood to serve as joist and supports of the roof and floor. The walls and buttress were made of marine stones brought from China. The church was completed around 1851 described to have a length of 69 varas (193.2 feet), its width was 15 varas (41 feet), its height until the eaves was 8 varas (20 feet). The part, which divided the church or transept, was 31 varas (86.8 feet) in length. Part of the transept facing west was called SABADOHAN because on the altar, the statues of the Immaculate Conception and the Birhen sa Kota (Virgin of the Holy Rosary) were enshrined.
Above picture depicts the Old Augustine Church during the American Period. As you can see on the image, the original Bell Tower is located on the left side of the Church (If a person faces it).



The original Spanish church after it was rebuilt 104 years ago was destroyed during the American attack in the year 1945. Only the façade feature of the church and wooden cross in front survived the bombardment. 
The image above shows the remnant of the Old Cathedral of St. Augustine.
As you may noticed, it was greatly destroyed during the bombardment and
only the frontal interior including the original Bell Tower survived.

Sooner after the war, the American Missionary Fr. James T.G. Hayes, S.J.(Society of Jesus) decided to rebuild the church with a Gothic-inspired architecture style. A gothic inspired architecture is a style developed in France which was came from the Romanesque approach known simply as the “French Style” before being considered into the Renaissance Art during the Re-birth period, thus, called “Gothic”- although the style is mainly used for palaces, town halls, and even castles.

Most gothic-typed of Cathedrals especially in Europe emphasizes greatness with verticality and has the elaborated façade however, the St Augustine Metropolitan Cathedral is exempted for such architectural amplification because it seems that the Cathedral is too small to fit to that vertical manner.
The entrance of the New St. Augustine Metropolitan Cathedral

Nonetheless, what’s something distinctive about this 173-year old Cathedral (taking consideration of the rebuilding around 1841) is not only its physical attributes but also its interior design- The claimed 200 year old stained glass windows.
According to Local Tour Guides accredited by the Tourism Department, these rare and priceless stained glass windows were centuries of age which came from the Chapel of the Sisters of the Sacred Heart, an old Gothic chapel situated in New York and said to be the works of well-known master craft of the style.

If the claim is true that these stained-glass windows came from the Chapel of the Sisters of the Sacred Heart (known as the Church of the Sacred Hearts of Mary and Jesus after its reconstruction) located in New York, then the claim of being 200 year-old is absurd. Why?
- Because the then-chapel was established in 1872 and was formally constructed in the year 1882- In simple calculation, only about 142 year-old.

Another viewpoint would be the Old St. Patrick Cathedral which was a Neo-gothic style Roman Catholic Cathedral Church situated in New York City which was erected around 1809 under the name of Ireland’s patron saint, Saint Patrick. This might be the answer however during that time, the stained-glass windows were not yet added to its interior. By 1909, the first of the Lady Chapel stained-glass windows was installed which were designed and constructed in England, France and Germany accordingly. In such, the calculation would be 105 year-old, defeating the 200-year old declaration.

Now, where do these stained glasses came from?
Based on the research I made, it came from the then-Church of the Sacred Hearts of Mary and Jesus but the claim of being a 200-year old might be incorrect.

Here’s a simple comparison of the photo from the Old Church and the stained glass window I took. Look closely, the picture perfectly resembles the other one.
The image came from the Church of the Sacred Hearts of Mary and Jesus, New York City. A red-colored rectangular shape was added to the picture for references.

According to the conversation we had with MR ANTONIO J. ROA MONTALBAN II, a renowned Historian in Cagayan de Oro, he pointed out that the stained glass windows definitely not 200 years old which presume to be the style is far from the 1700s. Moreover, according to him, a Jesuit Historian said it came from that convent (The Chapel of the Sacred Hearts of Mary and Jesus) though more research is needed to support the claim.
Nonetheless, the style was traced by MR ELSON ELIZAGA and thinks it was fabricated in Birmingham, England were few stained glass masters in Europe 1800s situated.

More about the stained glass windows:
Accordingly, the stained-glass windows are Raphaelite-inspired. The idea of this type of art-making came from Raphael, one of the most important artists of the Italian Renaissance. What something exceptional about the Raphaelite is the use of light and shadow as depth and perspective which means the image have a high regard for its clarity of form, more serene, and much exactly the same as of its original human portrait.

(Right image shows one of the stained-glass windows)-------------------------------------------->>>>>


MORE INFORMATION:
St. Augustine Metropolitan Cathedral is part of the destinations for Cagayan de Oro HERITAGE WALK TOUR! Join us as we explore the historical and heritage sites of Cagayan de Oro City!

Rate starts at:
- P499.00 per head (Join the HWALK-Tour with a group)
- P399.00 per head (For Students provided they have School ID)
- P699.00 per head (Individual Rate for Foreigners)
- P799.00 per head (For exclusive tour- one person only)

Avail special discounts with group rates (Minimum of 4 pax)

For more information about the Heritage Walk Tour, please contact the author of this travel site with subject: HERITAGE WALK TOUR INQUIRY.

The frontage visage of the St. Augustine Metropolitan Cathedral with the Wooden Cross known as the remnant of the Re-constructed church dated 1841. The Wooden Cross was erected in 1888 by Augustinian Recollect Missionaries.
The new Bell Tower of the St. Augustine Cathedral
One of the interior of the St. Augustine Metropolitan Cathedral with St. Augustine, the Patron Saint of Cagayan de Oro

Below images shows the rare and priceless stained glass windows located inside the Cathedral. As you can see, the images were highlighted by natural light and shadow known as Raphaelite. These stained-glass windows are situated on the left portion of the Cathedral.


Below images shows another stained-glass windows. Both are located above and one of the above-interiors of the Cathedral.


Below image shows another stained-glass window located in the left part of the Cathedral

(From Left to Right): The image shows the Statue of St. Augustine while the other image shows the old interior of the Cathedral.

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