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San Sebastian Catholic Church in Manila Badly Needs Repair

Updated on January 23, 2014

BRUSSELS, capital of Belguim, is the place where the steel materials for the SAN SEBASTIAN CHURCH were ordered

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This is Belguim, 32,547 sq. kilometers, in Western Europe.built in 1891, this is San Sebastian Church in Manila  San Sebastian Church viewed from Plaza del Carmen
This is Belguim, 32,547 sq. kilometers, in Western Europe.
This is Belguim, 32,547 sq. kilometers, in Western Europe.
built in 1891, this is San Sebastian Church in Manila
built in 1891, this is San Sebastian Church in Manila
San Sebastian Church viewed from Plaza del Carmen
San Sebastian Church viewed from Plaza del Carmen

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San Sebastian Church is in need of repair

How to locate churches in Manila

AS reported by, the San Sebastian Church in Quiapo, Manila is badly in need of repair. It’s being eaten up by rust and corrosion. Project director of the San Sebastian Conservation Development Foundation TINA PATERNO said parts of the church need immediate restoration. She added that 36 kilos of steel have already fallen from the ceiling and other parts of the church.

Paterno: A cursory examination of the church is important

Paterno further disclosed that rust has already invaded the structure and that a cursory examination of the structure be made to determine which portions are badly in need of immediate restoration.

The church was designated national historical landmark

In 1973 the San Sebastián Church was designated as a national historical landmark It’s known as the only neo-gothic, all-steel church in the whole of Asia. Historian Ambeth Ocampo said that Alexandre Gustave Eiffel helped design the steel structure of this church. Alexandre Gustave Eiffel (December 15, 1832- December 27, 1923) is the French engineer who also designed the Eiffel Tower

The site where the San Sebastian Church stood was donated by Don Bernardino Castillo

n the year 1621, Don Bernardino Castillo donated a piece of land where the present San Sebastian Church was erected. The donor was a generous patron and a well-known devotee of Saint Sebastian - martyr of Rome and patron of Archers. . The original church, which was made of wood, was burned in 1651 during a Chinese uprising. The succeeding structures were destroyed by fire and earthquakes in 1859, 1863, and 1880.

Credit for initiating the plan of erecting fire-proof and quake-resistant church of steel goes to Fr. Esteban Martinez

The parish priest at that time, Fr. Esteban Martinez initiated the plan of building a fire-proof and earthquake-resistant church made entirely of steel. He approached the Spanish architect, Genero Palacios who approved and helped him realized his dream. Ambeth Ocampo said that the present San Sebastian church was ordered as prefabricated steel parts from the Societe Anonyme des Enterprises de Travaux Publiques in Brussels

Arrival in the Philippines of the first shipment of steel parts

On June 12, 1888, the first shipment of steel parts arrived in the Philippines. Two Belgian engineers supervised the construction of the church. It took them two years to assemble the church with local artists and craftsmen joining the Belgian firm in applying the final finishing touches on this new church of steel. The stained glass windows were imported from the Henri Oidtmann Company, a German stained glass firm. The engineering technique used in the construction of the church, including the metal fixtures and the overall structure, were from Alexandre Gustave Eiffel, the creator of the Eiffel Tower. This was confirmed when Chinese-American architect, I. M. Pei, visited the Philippines in the late 1970s. He came to confirm what he heard that Alexandre Gustave Eiffel designed a steel church in Asia.

Completion and inauguration

The San Sebastian Catholic Church was completed and inaugurated in 1891.

It is the seat of the Parish of San Sebastian and the National Shrine of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel. It is a fine example of the revival of Gothic architecture in the Philippines. The church is under the care of The Order of the Augustinian Recollects and is located at Legarda Street, Quiapo, Manila

Appeal for help

Board member Fr. Rene Paglinawan of the San Sebastian Conservation Development Foundation, said he is appealing to the community to help in the preservation of this historic church.

He disclosed that the San Sebastian Church has been the shrine of Our Lady of Mount Carmel since the 17th century so devotees found the center of devotion here in the Philippines.

Involvement of the community badly needed

He added:that the community should be involved to make this conservation sustainable, People are invited to see the church and do something about it.

For almost 119 years the SAN SEBASTIAN CHURCH has tirelessly catered to our spiritual needs, now that it’s old and in a state of advanced dilapidation- it is incumbent upon us all to do something concrete to share in its upkeep and repair.



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      José Jongen 5 years ago

      The involvment of Gustave Eiffel in the San Sebastian Basilica is totally wrong and in my opinion used only for touritic purposes

      If you look in Eiffel documents , you will find that he received the contract in 1875 , that means 5 years before the earthquake which destroyed the previous building in July 1880 . Eiffel indicated in his orders book 110 tons of steel and in San Sebastian , there are 1500 tons .

      For your information , Eiffel received the order through "Ayala y Compania " his agent in the Philippines , at this time

      The church really supplied by Eiffel was "San Ignacio church , Intramuros " destoyed by the japanese in 1945