Iloilo is filled with architectural beauty scattered around the metro from its ancestral houses, national shrines, and historical churches. Tucked at the heart of Iloilo City, the National Shrine of Our Lady of the Candles, also known as Jaro Metropolitan Cathedral, serves as the center of faith and devotion by the people of Iloilo.
Proclaimed by the National Historical Institute as a historical landmark in 1976 and a national shrine, Jaro Cathedral attracts devotees from across the country and all over the world because of its significance to Iloilo’s religious and cultural heritage.
The original cathedral was built in 1864 by the first bishop of Jaro, Mariano Cuartero, O.P. In 1948, the church was destroyed by an earthquake and later restored in 1956 by the first Archbishop of Jaro, Jose Maria Cuenco. During his visit to the church in 1981, St. Pope John Paul II declared the Lady of the Candles as the Patroness of Western Visayas. Today, Jaro Cathedral serves as the home of the Our Lady of Candles under St. Elizabeth of Hungary as its patron.
Notably, it is also believed that Graciano Lopez Jaena, a Filipino journalist and national hero, well-known for his written work, La Solidaridad, was baptized in this cathedral in 1856.
It is considered as one of the most beautiful and iconic structure in the area with its unique triangular and asymmetrical facade. The cathedral features a Romanesque Revival architecture as seen in its arched windows and entryways, square towers, and red-roofed dome. It has a belfry in front of the church, situated at the Jaro Park. The original bell tower was destroyed during an earthquake in 1948 and reconstructed in 1990s.
Aside from its iconic Romanesque Revival architecture, the cathedral is also known as the “Male” Church - Iloilo’s answer to the feminist church of Molo. The patroness is the only female statue among the all-male collection of saints lined inside the church.