DID YOU KNOW that the Molo Church in Iloilo City is sometimes called the “women’s church” because of the ensemble of female saints standing on the columns of its nave? The church is dedicated to St. Anne, the mother of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Molo Church is a famous Spanish-colonial church and heritage site in Molo District. It known 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 the Iloilo City’s most familiar landmarks and top tourist attractions.
This magnificent structure can be best photographed during the late afternoon hours when the coral stone facade of the church reflects the soft golden rays of the sunset. While you are there, take a stroll in and around Molo Plaza. Also within an easy walk are a couple of remarkable heritage houses and the Iloilo Esplanade.
How to Get There Molo Church can be found beside Molo Plaza, the central landmark in Molo District. It is quite famous, so it should be easy to get to by taxi or jeepney commute. Almost all jeepneys routes with “Molo” or “Arevalo” on its name will pass by the plaza or near it including Villa Arevalo, Molo Mandurriao, Molo Baluarte, Oton Anhawan, and Oton Derecho.
Built in 1831, Molo Church stands as a reminder of Iloilo’s rich history and a monument for Ilonggo artistry. The church exudes a fusion of the overpowering features of Gothic and the recessive characteristics of Romanesque architectural styles.
The interior is rich in Gothic elements. There are five gothic altars which are made of wood while beautiful paintings dominate the walls. Female Saints Stand on each pillar and a pair of interestingly decorated pulpits contrast the entire structure. The Spires of Molo are yet the most interesting colonial “skyscrapers” in Iloilo City aside from the neoclassic Belfry of Jaro.
Text from Lingganay, collection of Iloilo’s Heritage Churches.
Women wanting to be empowered by the graces of women saints have a place in Molo Church. This Molo Church made of coral rocks (affixed with a mortar made from egg whites mixed with sand) earned the moniker “women’s church” because of the presence of 16 images of women saints inside. The centerpiece in the retablo is the image of Sta. Ana, the patron saint of Molo.
It is said that in August 4, 1886, Dr. Jose Rizal, on his way back to Manila from his exile in Dapitan, passed by the church to pray and view its collection of biblical paintings, which is no longer extant.
Molo church is very sturdy and has survived fires, earthquakes, and artillery barrages in 1945. Molo church was made as an evacuation center for the civilians during WWII. One tower is said to have been destroyed by the Americans after suspecting it was used for military purposes by the Japanese during the Second World War. The bells still bear the scars of bullets shot at Philippine resistance fighters in the second world war. The National Historical Institute declared it a national landmark in 1992.