Quadricentennial Celebration: 1603 – 2003
1591The Jesuit started a mission for the Japanese settlers in the village of Dilao (north bank of the Pasig River.)
1600The Franciscan took over the mission from the Jesuits in 1600 headed by Fray Luis Sotelo.
1603It is during this period that King Philip III formally created the community for the purpose of administering the enclave for the Japanese settlers and gave back the mission to the Jesuits. It is also during this period that the Jesuits decided to adopt the saint – St. Michael the Archangel.
1611The Japanese mission finally became as parish priest of San Miguel.
1627A rectory was built for the Jesuits and some of its missionaries were sent to Japan but died in defense of the Catholic faith. Hence, the rectory would go down in history as a “Seminary of Martyrdom”.
1637Ten years after the first church was built in honour of St. Michael the Archangel. It was located in the left bank of the Pasig river where the Tabacalera, Mirador Hotel and the old PCSO office are now located. The church was ordered build by then Governor General Sebastian Hurtado de Corcuera when he was almost killed in a battle against the Moros. The bullet that just missed him pierced instead the banner of the image of St. Francis Xavier. The general was almost gratified that he ordered the church build in honor of St. Michael to whom St. Francis Xavier had a great devotion.
1762The British occupied Manila and dropped San Miguel from its original site and moved across the Pasig River on the opposite bank.
1778Fire raged San Miguel and the villagers were transferred to the opposite bank of the river. This will show that the original San Miguel Parish is now the Parish of San Vicente de Paul.
1779A provisional church in the North Bank of the river was constructed. The construction of a “Camarin” like type structure which actually looked like a bodega was started by Fray Malo de Molina.
1835A new parish church was finally built in 1835 after a period of 36 years and 17 parish priests. The completed San Miguel Church was inaugurated by Fray Esteban Mena transforming the sleepy San Miguel district into one of Manila’s busiest and important place to be seen and heard.
1900Father Arce Hipolito was installed parish priest of San Miguel Church and served until 1940, the longest in the history of the parish. He was instrumental in the renovation and remodelling of the present parish church with material assistance from Dona Carmen de Ayala Roxas.
1913The remodeled church was finally blessed and inaugurated on September 28, 1913 and the feast of St. Michael and the Archangels, as decreed by the Church, was first celebrated on September 29, 1913. Henceforth, the feast of St. Michael was first celebrated from May 8, feast of the apparition of St. Michael to September 29 thereafter. Years after, Fr. Arceo was promoted to Monsignor.
1940Fr. Vicente Reyes, (who would later be elevated to the rank of Bishop) took the helm fom Fr. Arceo.
1945At the height of the liberation in 1945, the American forces with the mass firepower forced the retreating Japanese soldiers to blow up bridges and burn structures along their way and this include the community of San Miguel Parish. Fr. Reyes rushed and brought the image of St. Michael from the main altar to the church ground and positioned the image towards the advancing fire that was about to rage the church. By a strange whiff of the air, the flames reversed its course sparing the church and the convent. This was considered and recorded, at least for the parishioners of San Miguel as the first known intercession and miracle of its patron saint. In recognition of its merits, Msgr. Michael O’ Doherty, then Archbishop of Manila designated San Miguel Church as the Pro-Cathedral until a new Cathedral could be build, the old one destroyed during the World War II. From then on until December 8, 1958, the Parish is known as San Miguel Pro-Cathedral. The seat of the Archdiocese was also temporarily housed in San Miguel.
1950The church had a new look – a blue and cream colour, and a grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes in the east part of the patio as inaugurated through the able assistance of President Carlos Garcia. This was during the administration of Msgr. Hernando Y. Antiporda, Auxiliary Bishop of Manila and Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Manila.
1954The old rectory of the parish church was replaced with a more elegant house and office both for the parish and the archdiocese.
1955This year San Miguel Church was proud to have installed a new image of the 14 stations of the Way of the Cross, which was especially carved by the people of Paete, Laguna for the parish.
1958The new Manila Cathedral was inaugurated on December 8, 1858. Henceforth, the parish carried the official name as San Miguel Parish Church.
1960San Miguel holds the distinction of being a residence of the Archbishop of Manila and Arzobispado at the same time. Archbishop Rufino J. Santos of Manila who is residing at the San Miguel Parish Church was named Cardinal, adding more prestige to his temporary palace, as well as becoming the Seat of the Prince of the Church. However, in the late 60’s the residence of the Archbishop was transferred to Villa San Miguel in Mandaluyong while the office of the Chancery and the Arzobispado were transferred to Intramuros, Manila in 1987.
1983Msgr. Josefino Ramirez was appointed Parish Priest of San Miguel Church. This was followed by two more appointments – that of a Vicar General and Chancellor of the Archdiocese of Manila. This was one of the heights of important liturgical as well as social and cultural activities in the parish. Msgr. Ramirez was a keen innovator of liturgical events and a strong lover of liturgical music. Concerts were held at the church every now and then aimed to uplift the spirit of the parishioners and innovate a socially and culturally relevant activity. Being a devotee of St. Michael, Msgr. Ramirez started the praying of the Prayer to St. Michael the Archangel in every mass. It was a prayer composed of Pope Pius XXIII. He also started propagating devotion to the Archangels and to the Guardian Angels.
1984Through the generous assistance from Col. Antonio Cabangon Chua, a gigantic image of St. Michael with the dragon underfoot was displayed in the churchyard. The beautiful image created by the sculptor Florante Cacdo was blessed in September 29, 1984 by Papal Nuncio Bruno Torpigliani with His Eminence Jaime Cardinal L. Sin, D.D. and Col. Chua as unveilers.
1985Upon the initiative of Msgr. Ramirez and the endorsement of Cardinal Sin, the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines unanimously designated San Miguel Church as the National Shrine of St. Michael and the Archangels. The able assistance from Col. Antonio Cabangon Chua and Ms. Imelda Cojuangco, a new altar was constructed, made of fine wood and stately marble tabernacle. The new altar with St. Michael in the center crushing the enemy with the other six archangels flanking him was actually a replica of the old altar during the 1800. The architect was Fr. Ramon Dodero, an Opus Dei priest.
1986The fitting climax to the historical significance of San Miguel Parish Church came with its inauguration and dedication as the National Shrine of St. Michael and the Archangels on February 22, 1986, the night when EDSA I began. In attendance was His Eminence Ricardo Cardinal Vidal of the Archdiocese of Cebu and Papal Nuncio Bruno Torgigliani and sponsors were Col. Antonio Cabangon Chua and Mrs. Imelda Cojuangco. Henceforth, a weekly Monday Novena to the Archangels is being celebrated at the Shrine. San Miguel Parish Church is now officially known as the National Shrine of St. Michael and the Archangels.
1989Msgr. Marcelino A. Montemayor took the helm as Rector and Pastor of the Shrine in October 1, 1989. Because of the succeeding political unrest prevailing during this time, including several coup d’état against the administration of then President Corazon Aquino, more benefactors left the district and transferred to a more secure villages. More check points and barricades were also placed to the detriment of the church attendees. At this time too, new parishes, San Sebastian Parish Church and St. Jude Parish Church are flourishing. Hence, parishioners residing near these churches not mention those near Quiapo Church and San Beda Chapel are no longer attending masses in San Miguel. Hence, the attendance in daily massed decreased. It was also this time that the San Miguel Catholic School closed shop due to short enrolment. Inspite of these unfortunate developments however, and to the credit of Msgr. Montemayor, a new Blessed Sacrament Chapel was constructed. The main altar was also refurbished.
2003The work of the rejuvenation not only in terms of physical renovation but also in spiritual development of the faithful of San Miguel – in spite of all odds and restrictions lies now in the hands of Msgr. Augusto G. Laban, being the father of the quadricentennial anniversary of the Parish of San Miguel. Street Masses are revived and the involvement of the laity in the church activities has much improved. Preparing for this momentous event was a thorough job for Msgr. Laban. Called and perhaps destined to be as builders and rebuilders of churches based on his previous parish assignments. Msgr. Laban left no stone unturned in assuring that the church is ready for this event since his appointment as Parish Priest of San Miguel in June 2000. Under his guidance, a committee was organized to celebrate the quadricentennial foundation of the parish. Heading the committee is the First Gentleman, Atty. Mike Arroyo, as Honorary Chaiman, Ambassador Antonio Cabangon Chua, as Chairman, Ms. Imelda Cojuangco, as Vice Chairman, Mayor and Mrs. Lito Atienza as Hermano and Hermana Mayor. Aided by Ms. Sonia Ronda, Ms. Cora C. Chiong, Ms. Vicky Nava, Ms. Mimi Lacambra and many others a forty-day celebration was planned. With their assistance, as well as the support from President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and First Gentleman Atty. Mike Arroyo, Ambassador Antonio Cabangon Chua and other benefactors, the internal and external facade of the church was given a major facelift. The exterior falling debris of the church due to old age was reinforced. A new lighting facility and sound system were installed. The church bells were restored and the old deteriorating flooring of the church was replaced by glazed white and brown glazed granite. And from a non – performing venue, a new Multi – Purpose Building, the size of a big conference hall that can be divided into four meeting rooms was build. The National Shrine of St. Michael and the Archangels added another glory to its crown – the observance and celebration of its Quadricentennial Foundation Anniversary. This was capped by a 40 – Day activities the launching of which coincides with the 74th birthday of the parish priest, Msgr. Augusto G. Laban, ushered in by a grand celebration of the Holy Eucharist on August 19, 2003 attended by more than twenty priests and eight bishops – Most Rev. Socrates Villegas, D.D., Most Rev. Teodoro Buhain, D.D., Most Rev. Federico Escaler, S.J., D.D., Most Rev. Diosdado Talamayan, D.D., Most Rev. Nestor Cariño, D.D., Most Rev. Jose Salazar, O.P., D.D., Most Rev. Gabriel Reyes, D.D., and Most Rev. Rolando Octavius Tria Tirona, D.D. The main celebrant was Msgr. Augusto G. Laban and the homilist is Most Rev. Diosdado Talamayan, D.D., Archbishop of Tuguegarao. After the Mass, a Marian and Angels Exhibit were opened to the public at the newly constructed Multi – Purpose Building which was blessed by Most Rev. Socrates Villegas, D.D., Auxiliary Bishop of Manila. Also in display were important and historical artifacts of the parish dated 1650 to 1900. Celebrating the quadricentennial of the parish would not be complete without conferences and seminars about the revelance of the angels in our lives and in the present times. Held in September 10 and 12, 2003 at the parish, the conference was attended by students from various high schools and colleges in Metro Manila. An essay and art drawing competition followed and joined b those who attended the two – day seminar. To booster the spiritual development among the children of San Miguel, mass Confirmation was held on September 19, 2003 at the parish church wherein Msgr. Laban gives instruction on the importance of Confirmation and other Sacraments in our lives. The Angel Parade on September 26, 2003 was attended by 5 to 12 years old children of San Miguel, each of them in costumed in honour of the seven Archangels and paraded in the streets of San Miguel. The celebration culminated in the unveiling of the Historical Marker prepared by the National Historical Institute on September 28, 2003. Bishop Federico Escaler, S.J., D.D., did the unveiling with Bishop Manuel Sobreviñas, D.D. assisted by Mr. Edgar Cabangon Chua, Atty. Emil Sison and Ms. Emelita Almosara. A happy coincidence – the parish started under the Jesuits and 400 years later a Jesuit Bishop unveiled the historical marker.