There were two churches that Lei and I frequent for Sunday mass when we were residing in Mandaluyong City. One of these two churches is the Saint Dominic Savio Church and the other is the much older San Felipe Neri Church.
The San Felipe Neri Church is the oldest church in the city of Mandaluyong. In fact, the early name of Mandaluyong was San Felipe Neri when it was separated from the town of Sta. Ana de Sapa in 1841.1 The parish and the church was established in December 1863 with Father Francisco Gimenez as the first parish priest.2
San Felipe Neri, the patron saint of Mandaluyong, was born Florence in 1515. He gained worldly success at an early age as his uncle’s business assistant but all of this changed when he had a conversion. He transformed from being a business assistant and became God’s assistant. San Felipe became known as the Apostle of Rome because he poured all his energy to bring people in Rome back to God. He didn’t discriminate because he preached to the rich and the poor alike. He even brought the Gospel to the prostitutes of Rome.3
Saint Felipe Neri is known for his cheerfulness and the use of humor. He contradicts the popular notion of saints as serious (and even somber). I believe that San Felipe shows that a Chritian should be joyful when carrying the cross. Yes, our cross is heavy but this cross will bring us eternal life and that should motivate us to be cheerful as we go on in following Christ.
|San Felipe Neri on the church's facade.|
The church was recently renovated during our visit because its walls look so new.
San Felipe Neri Church is cavernous because of the big space inside. I believe that it is biggest church in Mandaluyong. The layout of the church is like a big cross with the left and right arms that can be used as side altar and area for baptisms.
The main altar at the front is the best part of the church. I can say that the altar is beautiful because it didn’t follow the modernist designs that can be found in some churches, especially the “modern” ones. Good thing that the church’s renovation didn’t turn into a wreckovation.
The altar contains the images of Mama Mary at the center with San Felipe Neri and Saint Francis of Assisi at the sides. Another plus point is that the tabernacle is located at its rightful place at the center.
San Felipe Neri Church doesn’t only have the image of its patron saint but it also has his relic. The relic is a part of the body near the heart of San Felipe Neri. We Catholics believe that relics are not just a tool for commemorating the saints but a weapon because the Devil and his minions flee whenever a relic of God’s holy one gets near them. Thus, the parish of San Felipe Neri in Mandaluyong is truly blessed for having San Felipe Neri’s relic in their midst.
I believe that San Felipe Neri Church should be promoted by the city government of Mandaluyong as a tourist spot. The first reason is the San Felipe Neri Church is is the city’s oldest church and one of the few remaining Spanish Era structures in Metro Manila. Another reason is the presence of the relic of San Felipe Neri.
San Felipe Neri Church is located at the corner of Aglipay Street and Boni Avenue. Commuters can easily reach this church by riding the Gabby’s or Kalentong bound jeep at Robinsons Galleria.
Information posted in this blog was obtained from the following sources:
1. Mandaluyong City website for the short history of Mandaluyong.
2. The plaque posted on the wall of San Felipe Neri Church
3. Catholic Online for the life story of San Felipe Neri
Visita Iglesia is a Catholic tradition of visiting seven churches during Maundy Thursday. For each day, this Holy Week, I will feature one church as a sort of virtual Visita Iglesia.