Officially known as Saint Anne Parish Church, Molo Church is a ‘Neogothic Roman Catholic Church’ nestled in Molo, Iloilo City, Philippines. It is also known as the ‘feminist church’. The church has been lauded as a ‘feminist church’ (also women’s church) due to its all-women images of saints: Saint Marcella, Saint Apollonia, Saint Genevieve, Saint Isabelle, Saint Felicity, Saint Agnes, Saint Monica, Saint Magdalene, Saint Juliana, Saint Lucy, Saint Rose, Saint Teresa, Saint Clare, Saint Cecilia, Saint Margaret, and Saint Martha. It’s patron saint, Saint Anne, is housed in the church’s retablo with the images of the Blessed Virgin and the Holy Trinity.
Molo Church, started construction in 1831 under Fray Pablo Montaño and was completed in 1888 under Fray Agapito Buenaflor and also under the supervision of Don Jose Manuel Locsin. It was erected in honor of Saint Anne. The Gothic-renaissance highlights two pointed belfries and made of white coral rock. “La iglesia bonita” – The beauty of Molo Church was unlike any other. Even the famous Dr. Jose Rizal was enamored by its beauty. The national hero visited the church in 1886 for its then existing biblical paintings. Apparently, the church was damaged during the Japanese regime, and it was also used as an evacuation center for civilians during World War II, but was repaired later on by Rev. Manuel Alba. “A famous Spanish colonial church and heritage site in Molo district. It is know for the prominent red spires that crown its tall bell towers and as ‘the feminist church’ because of the all-women ensemble of saints represented in 16 statues perched on the aisle pillars. Built in neogothic style, the church is one of Iloilo City’s most familiar landmark and top tourist attractions.” – Saint Anne Parish Church in Molo. To date, the church is a national landmark declared by the National Historical Institute in 1992.
Christian tradition says that Saint Anne is the mother of Mary and the maternal grandmother of Jesus. Although her name was not in the canonical gospels, it was mentioned with her husband Joachim in the New Testament Apocrypha, specifically in the Gospel of James.
Molo, a district in Iloilo City, is the most densely populated compared to other districts. Unbeknownst to many, Molo was the original ‘Parian’ (Chinese district or Chinatown) of Iloilo City. Molo used to be a separate municipality before it was incorporated to the then-municipality of Iloilo via Act No. 719 of 1903. It is also lauded as the ‘Athens of the Philippines’, as it was the center of learning in the Visayas. It is also the birthplace of prominent figures and illustrados, including philosophers, political leaders, government officials, to mention a few. Other highlights in Molo, Iloilo City is the Molo Plaza, lauded as the ‘most beautiful public plaza in the city’, Molo Plaza is adorned by statues and a monument of Maria Clara. A fountain is also found at the center of the plaza. Just across the church and through the plaza is the Yusay-Consing Mansion (Molo Mansion). It was built in the 1920s and has been home to Molo’s powerful and influential families. With its preservation, it is now a heritage museum housing products, delicacies, art and crafts by Ilonggos. The beauty and history of Molo is indeed astounding. From its origins to its current glory, Molo has something for everyone. So come on board and explore this beautiful city for yourself!