ILOILO: Jaro Cathedral


The Jaro Cathedral houses the National Shrine of Our Lady of the Candles (Candelaria). It is also called the Saint Elizabeth of Hungary Parish.


It was built in 1874. The architecture is Cathedral type with a Romanesque Revival style.


The unique thing about the Jaro Cathedral is that its old bell tower is located across the street … at the Jaro Plaza. Normally, belfries are beside the church. Oldtimers say that the old bell tower was actually beside an old church which was destroyed by an earthquake. The Jaro Cathedral itself was damaged by an earthquake sometime in January 1948 and was eventually repaired in 1956.


Pope John Paul II celebrated Mass here when he visited the Philippines in 1982. He then crowned the Our Lady of Candles and declared her as Patroness of Western Visayas.


The centuries-old image of the Nuestra Señora de la Candelaria is the main focus of the Jaro Fiesta every February 2.

Based on the blog “ohmybuhay”:

“St. Elizabeth of Hungary used to be the patroness of Jaro Cathedral. She was later replaced by Our Lady of Candles (Candelaria).

… A long long time ago, a boatman saw a floating debris in the water. It was a statue of the Blessed Virgin. The church named it Our Lady of Candles and it was placed on the right side of the altar. The Lady kept on growing in equal proportion until her head was already hitting the wall’s ledge. It was transferred to the middle portion of one of the altars.

A few times the sacristan noticed that the Lady’s skirt was wet and full of amorseko, the tiny grass flowers that stick into clothes and skin.

Every morning, the sacristan would check the Lady’s skirt and it’s always the same, it’s wet and there were wild flowers at the bottom.

He hid one night and observed the Lady. To his disbelief, the miraculous Lady went down from the altar, walked to the Jaro town plaza where there’s spring water. She bathed the baby Jesus and walked back to the church picking up more amorseko on her skirt.

According to their town’s story, the Sacristan told the parish priest who also saw the miracle. He then told the archbishop and he too, saw what’s happening with his very own eyes.

Anne says that when she was little, everytime someone got sick, they did not go to the doctor, but only drank the spring water from the plaza.

This miracle reached the Vatican and according to Anne, the Blessed Pope John Paul visited the Our Lady of Candles twice. About three years after he was ordained Pope and a few years before he passed away.

According to Anne, the Lady still keeps growing that’s why she is now placed in a specially made altar outside the main church.”


Devotees are able to venerate Our Lady by climbing up 32 steps of the staircase, then down another 32 steps on the other side.


Schedule of Daily Mass is at 5:30 a.m., 6:00 a.m., 6:30 a.m., 7:00 a.m. 5:30 p.m.Image

It is said that Graciano Lopez Jaena, one of our heroes, was baptized in the cathedral.ImageImageImage


The current Rector is Most Reverend Gerardo Alminaza, D.D.


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