San Sebastian Cathedral, also known as Bacolod Cathedral, is the seat of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Bacolod, making it the most famous religious and historical landmark in Bacolod.
During the 1700s, Christian missionaries placed a small village occupied by Malayans called Masungay under the protection of Saint Sebastian. This village was then aptly named San Sebastian de Masungay. However, the people of Masungay soon moved to a location now known as Bacolod due to widespread Moro pirate attacks. Years later, a young priest from Barcelona named Father Gonzaga started the erection of the San Sebastian Church.
San Sebastian Cathedral started as a small chapel made of wood with a galvanized iron roof in the 19th century. Initially, the church only had one small bell. Over time, more church bells were donated by Father Roman Manuel Locsin and Father Mariano de Avila, the parish priests of the church, and these bells were hung in the newly constructed bell towers. However, these bell towers were declared to be a public hazard in 1969, and was subsequently taken down. However, a few years later, Father Antonio Santes, the cathedral’s rector, raised funds to rebuild the towers where they are present today.
The two bell towers which is now present on the cathedral’s façade was constructed in 1885. When Bacolod became a diocese in 1933, the church was declared to be a cathedral. Now, the cathedral is a much bigger structure with a columbarium and rectory.
The patron saint of San Sebastian Cathedral is Saint Sebastian, an early Christian saint and martyr who is popular amongst athletes. In the past, he was believed to have a special ability to protect people against the plague, so devotion to him became widespread back when the plague was rampant. Nowadays, people of Bacolod pray to him for good health and protection. Saint Sebastian is venerated every 20th of January, during which the cathedrals holds a fiesta.