Located on top of a hill where EDSA crosses the Pasig River is the Church of Nuestra Señora de Gratia. This church was part of the Augustinians’ Guadalupe monastery. Its foundations were laid in 1601 and construction work was finished in 1629. The location of the monastery was a place for retrea for its healthful climate. In the olden days, the church was an object of pilgrimage among the Manila Chinese, who paid homage to San Nicholas de Tolentino.
According to Dr. Jaime Laya, the building withstood numerous earthquakes but its masonry roof collapsed in the earthquakes of 1880 and the structure was rebuilt in 1882. All was gutted in February 1899 by cannon fire from American gunboats on the Pasig below. No visible remains of the wide stone steps leading up from the river, a highlight of the old complex.
The ruins of the monastery were torn down in the 1950s and the stones were reportedly recycled in the reconstruction of the Manila Cathedral. The walls of the church proper were saved and given a new roof to from the present church that accordingly retains the old façade, bell tower and side elevation.
The main façade is Renaissance in feel, with a single arched doorway similar to those of the Manila Cathedral. Tall pilasters extending up to the pediment provide vertical accents to an otherwise squat façade.
There is a large open space, now surrounded by low and middle class structures, but which one can visualize once had a panoramic view of Manila and Laguna de Bay on the west and on the north, the precipitous cliffs of the Mandaluyong side of the river and the Sierra Madre beyond. And from the windows of the monastery must have been wonderful views of Laguna de Bay, Mount Makiling and Tagaytay Ridge to the east and south.
Source: Jaime Laya, Letras y Figuras
Click Part I – Church of Nuestra Señora de Gratia, Part II – Guadalupe’s San Nicholasi, Part III –Sampiro de Makati, Part IV –Old Makati’s Bailes de los Arcos, Part VI – Nielson Tower, Part VII –The Manila American Cemetery, Part VIII – Reposo Street Makati