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Molo Church: Feminine, Beautiful but Tough

Submitted by on September 23, 2011 – 11:50 pm5 Comments

Molo Church

The Church of St. Anne - Molo, Iloilo City

One of the most prominent of Iloilo’s icons, the Church of St Anne at Molo District is the only Gothic church outside Manila. Her beauty and unparalleled heritage stands out; giving every visitor an experience of awe and joy. The Molo Church is Iloilo’s lady and still bears her royal qualities today.

Its towering belfries with red roofs dominated the Iloilo skyline for centuries, making it one of the distinguishable structures in the city. Old cities are usually represented by their cathedrals, and Iloilo City is of no exception. Her feminine church stands among the rest, its strength and beauty is a testament to Ilonggos’ unrivaled craft and skills in masonry and arts. Even in Spanish times, her prominence is widely known, even the national hero Jose Rizal paid her a visit on his way back to Manila from his exile at Dapitan in August 1896. Awed by her beauty, the hero referred to her as “La iglesia bonita!”

Gothic and Renaissance Design, Feminine Church

The church’s Gothic influence is evident on its exterior facade, altars, and arches, and structure. Shaped like a Latin cross, the central nave has 4 columns of seats enough to accommodate a thousand church goers in any given event. Small rose windows with Filipino touch of capiz shells line the sides supplementing the large arched windows in filling the structure with soft light. Her silver-colored dome is of Renaissance influence and also a distinct feature of the church.

 Molo Church Belfry

The belfries house almost 30 bells of varying sizes which sing a musical tone when used. These towers also serve as the baptistery and entrance to the choir loft.

Molo Church Aisle

The central Corinthian columns, with gold accents, also serve as mini altars with female saints placed on pedestals attached on them. These all-female saint images give the church the distinction as the feminine church of the country, an answer to Jaro Cathedral’s masculine line up of santos. All in all, there are 16 female saints displayed which includes Sta. Marcela, Apolonia, Genoveva, Isabel, Felicia, Ines, Monica, Magdalena, Juliana, Lucia, Rosa de Lima, Teresa, Clara, Cecilia, Margarita and Marta.

Molo Church view from pulpit

A pair of interesting wooden pulpits designed with spires and delicate sculpture is attached on the two pillars supporting the dome near the grand altar.

There are four minor wooden altars and one grand altar at the center, all with Gothic influence. The main altar houses the image of Saint Anne with the Child Mary at the center and flanked by the Virgin Mother and Sacred Heart of Jesus at its sides. On top, the images of the Divine Trinity command a view of the entire church interior.

Molo Chuch mural

It is interesting to add that the main altar is lined with gold paint which gives a distinct glow and shine as seen from the entrance. A mural of the Descent of the Holy Spirit adorns the ceiling above the main altar.

Molo Church Facade Iloilo

Her exteriors are made of coral and lime stones, which are delicately sculptured into columns and spires.

Heritage and Strength

Molo Church Gothic

From its origins as a simple church made of tabique pampango in 1863, the Church of Saint Anne had withstood earthquakes, Moro raids, fires, and wars. Though her towers were bombarded by the Americans in the 1940s, she was only partially damaged and had survived World War II. These events are testimonies to the soundness of the design and the sturdiness of the materials used.

It can be recalled that the church was built at mid-19th century when Spanish authorities are fusing European standards with Filipino architectural styles in their building code at the islands in order to make infrastructures more adaptable to earthquakes and storms. The design of the church was proposed and 1866, and was approved by Bishop Mariano Cuartero of Jaro three years later. Upon approval of the plan, the church was then consecrated to St. Anne.

Main door Molo Church Iloilo

In 1992, the church was declared a national landmark by the National Historical Institute.

Molo Plaza Iloilo

The Molo Plaza at front of the church also serves as recreational place dating back in the Parian days. Currently, there are proposed renovations to improve the plaza.

(see Molo Plaza Up for Renovation)

Convento De Molo

 A Bahay-na-bato style Spanish time Convento de Molo still stands at the north side. This serves as the residence of the priests, and the administrative office of the parish.

A marker honoring the revolutionary leader, Pablo Araneta (1865 – 1943), is found at the front wall of the convent. Pablo Araneta is known for his success in the battle against Spaniards in Arevalo and as being the commanding general of the revolutionary troops of the (Federal) Republic of Visayas. After the war, Araneta, being a licensed medical doctor before the 1898 revolution, became civilian official in different sectors of the government such as health and sanitation.

Today, the Molo Church is a must-see for all visitors in the city. She was a beauty to behold, a witness to the rich culture and heritage, and a living icon of the city. 

St. Anne Parish Schedule of Services

Molo, Archdiocese of Jaro
Tel No. 337-2258

Parish Office
Tuesday to Saturday
8:30 – 11:45 AM
2:30 – 4:45 PM

Ordinary Weekday Masses
5:30 AM
5:30 PM

Sunday and Holdiay of Obligation Masses
AM – 5:30, 6:30, 8:00, 10:00
PM – 3:00. 5:00, 6:30

Ordinary Schedule of Baptisms
Saturday – 11:00 AM
Sunday – 11:00 AM

Ordinary Schedule of Confessions
Wednesdays – 5:00 PM (before Novena Mass)
First Friday 5:00 AM & 5:00 PM (before Mass)

Marriages, Funerals, Sick Calls, and Other Liturgical/Pastoral Matters
Please see office


Editor’s Note:

After all adjectives pertaining to her heritage and beauty, the Molo Church for me instills a pride as an Ilonggo. This article had been difficult for me to put up because of the mixed emotions of excitement, caution, and pride. After all the hard work, I consider this my salute to our church here in Molo.

Iloilo I LOVE! traces the sights, scenes, and sounds of Metro Iloilo Guimaras (MIG). This zone is composed of Iloilo and its environs (Oton, Leganes, Pavia, San Miguel and Sta. Barbara), together with the island of Guimaras. Come and experience Metro Iloilo Guimaras here at Iloilo I LOVE!

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  • Terrence says:

    yeah, i really agree that she’s beautiful. have fond memories there with my family during my sister’s wedding. i miss attending masses there, the last time we had was 3 years ago. Hope to see Iloilo again!

  • Myla Quichon says:

    Molo church is spectacular! we had our visit last christmas during our family reunion. it’s the best church for me!

  • Salamat! Toto Mark, for posting the Santa Ana Church complete with nice photos and write-ups. Please allow me to add that Joseph Manuel Locsin y Sayson was greatly instrumental in building this Molo historical landmark. Likewise, for mentioning about revolutionary leader Gen. Pablo Araneta, whose marker I personally received in Iloilo from the National Historical Institute (NHI) sometime during the decade of Philippine Nationalism in the 1980’s for appropriate installation thereat.. -dinggol.d~~~

    • Mark Segador says:

      Thank you Sir Dinggol! It’s my honor for you to visit and comment on my article. I share your advocacy in awakening our pride as a people and as a nation. We must look back into the past, learn from our mistakes, so we could see how bright our future is. The more glorious days are still to come, it’s up to us how we can achieve our full potential.

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