The Pasig Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception is the center of Catholic faith in the Diocese of Pasig. It is also the first Marian parish in Asia.
Its earliest inhabitants were groups of people like the Chinese and the Malay. Their conversion to Christianity was attributed to an Augustinian friar named MuyReverendo Padre Fray Alfonso de Alvarado, who, after learning the Tagalog language, immediately preached to and converted the people of Pasig, Cainta, Taytay, and Bay (Laguna) to the Christian faith.
The first church was erected by Augustinian missionaries in 1572 in Barangay Pinagbuhatan. It was a small structure made of bamboo and cogon grass. The mission parish of Pasig was inauguratedon July 2, 1573, the feast of the Nuestra Senora de la VisitacionisMariae de Passi, the first titular of Pasig.
In 1575, Fr. Juan de Alba started with the construction of a bigger and stronger church to accommodate the growing number of devotees but it was not in Pinagbuhatan which was always flooded. The church, made of meter-thick adobe stones, was constructed by Chinese craftsmen and local workers.
After the initial completion of the stone church, the titular was changed to that of the Immaculate Conception on April 25, 1587. The church served as a center of faith for pilgrims from the province of Laguna and throughout the whole of Rizal province.
The present structure was built during the term of Fray FelixTrillo in 1705. The church has retained much of its original design although its original interiors have seen considerable changes with the good intention of improving on it. During the 19th century, the choir and transept were added. A dome was built above the transept. It had to be removed for safety’s sake after it was weakened by several earthquakes.
The British invasion that started on November 8, 1762 saw the defeat of the Spaniards and local defenders. The British Army occupied Pasig until the end of the war in 1764. The British looted the convent and all church bells of Pasig were ordered surrendered as spoils of war, then melted and molded into cannon balls.
During the Filipino uprising of 1896, the Pasigueno revolutionaries led by Valentin Cruz drove away the Augustinian friars. A Filipino priest by the name of Presbitero Don Victor Ramos y Aguillon took over.
After Spain sold the Philippines to the United States in 1898, the Americans took hold of the church, the rectory, and the cemetery. They desecrated the church and used it as a garrison until February 1900. The whole church was later turned over to Padre Ramos, except for the cemetery where the Americans remained encamped.
In 1910, the church dedicated to the Immaculate Conception already had a beautiful wooden altar with the images of the Immaculate Conception, St. Joachim, St. Anne, and the Holy Family.
On June 11, 1901, the Second Philippine Commission headed by William Howard Taft used the church premises to conduct a formal meeting during which the Province of Rizal was created. Pasig was made the capital of the newly created province.
The new image of the Immaculate Conception, acquired through the coffers of the Archdiocese of Manila, arrived in Pasig aboard a barge. The Pasiguenos, under the CenrroCatolico, eagerly welcomed the image and brought it to the main altar where it was enthroned, proclaimed, and venerated.
In 1910, the CICM (CongregatioImmaculatiCordisMariae) missionaries arrived in the Pasig church to be the official administrator, with Rev. Fr. Cornelis de Brouwer as the parish priest. Three years later, the Belgian confreres established a religious school for the people of Pasig, now known as the Pasig Catholic College. Under the American regime, electricity was installed in Pasig and public transportation like the tranviabecame available.
Today, the people of Pasig speak of how their religious faith helped the town survive the Japanese occupation from 1942 to 1945. Old folks say that the townspeople continued to fill the church on Sundays and even on weekdays though there was a total blackout at night time. The people still flocked to the church to celebrate the novena of the feast of their patroness.
The Belgian confreres stayed until 1979. Only Fr. Andres Desmet and Fr, Urbano Timmermans were left to continue their work. Msgr. Manuel Sobrevinas became the first Filipino parish priest of the Pasig church and later Bishop Emeritus of the Diocese of Imus in Cavite province.
By August 21, 2003, the church has evolved from a mission church to a cathedral by virtue of the creation of the Diocese of Pasig under the administration of the late Most Rev. Francisco C. San Diego, D.D., the first bishop of Pasig. The Diocese is composed of the cities of Pasig and Taguig and the municipality of Pateros.
The long-awaited and prayed-for canonical coronation to be bestowed on Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception was granted by Pope Benedict XVI on August 6, 2008 upon the request of the Most Rev. Francisco C. San Diego.
Rev. Fr. Roy M. Rosales brought the precious crown which was blessed by the Holy Father himself on October 29, 2008. The Papal Nuncio, the Most Rev. Edward Joseph Adams, crowned the image on December 7, 2008 in the presence of the bishops of the Philippines, government officials of Pasig, Pateros, and Taguig, the clergy, and the lay faithful of Pasig. After the Holy Mass on that day, the newly canonically crowned image of the Patroness left the church for the first time in more than a hundred years to majestically lead a procession through the main thoroughfares of Pasig.
To this day, the Immaculate Conception continues to be the Pasiguenos’ source of strength in times of great difficulties and their inspiration as they face life’s daily struggles.
Simbahan ng Pasig: Kahapon at Ngayon (Sept. 17, 1999)
427 Years of the Immaculate Conception Cathedral Parish