Undeniably the most noticeable structure in the whole of Sorosogon City, the Cathedral of Sts Peter and Paul has a huge dome ala-Vatican that dominates the city’s skyline. The new church was inaugurated on April 27, 2011 on the occasion of the 60th year of the Diocese of Sorsogon.
Controversies aside (if you don’t know the history of the renovation of this church, that is), it looks really nice and beautiful except for the obvious fact that it is surrounded by many business establishments renting to the church. Call it commercialization or perhaps the Diocese need more money for its mission?
During the Spanish colonial government, the Franciscan Recollects in charge of this part of the archipelago separated the barrio mission stations of Sorsogon and Dumanaog from their mother parish of the Annunciation of Bacon in 1628. The first parish priest was Fr. Francisco San Diego.
St Anthony of Padua was the parish’s first titular patron. It took time to progress from a simple nipa and bamboo church to the current structure. In 1660, the first stone church was dedicated. During the administration of Bishop Andres Gonzales, the Franciscans handed over the parish to the secular clergy of the Diocese of Caceres in Naga city in 1680. From 1768 to 1794, it was once again managed by the Recollects. The titulars of the parish were Sts Peter and Paul on June 22, 1792. The Franciscan Recollects handed over parish administration to the native Sorsoganon clergy in 1794. Fr Pedro Licup was the first native Filipino parish priest in Sorsoganon.
On March 21, 1840, a strong earthquake destroyed the old stone church, killing 165 people, 15 of whom were buried alive in the ruins. Aftershocks lasted for 35 days. Sorsogon, to which the parish belongs, became a municipal town and center in the province of Albay in 1864. The civil province of Sorsogon was established on October 17, 1894. During this time, Fr Jorge Barlin was the Vicar Forane of the Sorsogon Vicariate and our Parish Priest. He has been in service since 1887.
The Diocese of Sorsogon was established on June 29, 1951, and the parish became the Cathedral, with Bishop Teopisto Alberto as her first local ordinary.
A strong earthquake destroyed the old cathedral on July 2, 1954 and reconstruction of the cathedral took place.
The cathedral’s bell tower was destroyed by a magnitude 6.6 earthquake on July 2, 1954. The aforementioned damage prompted Bishop Alberto to rebuild the cathedral in neo-gothic architectural style the following year. The cathedral’s transept was built in 1972 under Bishop Arnulfo Arcilla.
HOW TO GET TO SORSOGON CATHEDRAL
To get to Sorsogon Cathedral, head towards the Public Market along the national road until you see the huge dome amidst the crowded commercial area. Turn right and pass through the fruit vendors until you reach the church’s door.
I visited Sorsogon Cathedral during my walking tour around the city. I did not need any local guide nor motorbike to get around. I visited the place at 3PM one Saturday afternoon.
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