The Newly Painted San Sebastian Church


When we first heard that new coats of paint were applied to the rusting San Sebastian Church, we went to see it for ourselves. As we saw our country’s all-steel church last Sunday, it is as good as new.  



When it was first completed in 1891, the pre-fabricated all-steel church of San Sebastian was the talk of Asia. It was an engineering marvel that showcased the latest in building technology at the dawning of the age of steel.


Yet, while new buildings in Europe and America at that time were designed to glorify men, the San Sebastian Church was built to glorify God. The structure was described in church documents to be “a sanctuary for the sacred statue of the Nuestra Señora del Carmen” which was brought to the Philippines from Mexico in 1618. 



Although Gothic in design, the church appears to be less ornate than it might have been when executed in stone. There are neither flying buttresses nor gargoyles. In fact, some exterior sections looks more like exterior sections of a ship.


To counter the monotony of steel, the finely-proportioned halls of San Sebastian are painted to look like marble –from the columns, walls, ceilings to the trim, scrollwork and ribbing. The main altar and pulpit are made of wood and trimmed with gold leaf. Equally impressive are the huge fonts that hold holy water for the ritual benediction. 






The stained glass windows commissioned from Germany are finely crafted and well maintained has remained expressive and original through the years.  




As San Sebastian Church remains the only steel church in Asia and probably the only large steel church in the world its survival is still the main point.


The architect Don Genaro Palacios meant for the steel church to be permanent as a solution to the frequent earthquakes that destroyed the first three churches. The building was engineered to rock like a boat rather than crumble during a tremor. San Sebastian was unscathed by the Spanish-American War and spared from damage during World War II. It also has survived the onslaught of countless earthquakes and typhoons.  



Today the increasing humidity brought by the changing climate that may speed up the rusting of steel is responsibly responded by applying new coats of paint to this one-of-a-kind structure that stands only in the Philippines.


Related link:

Who designed the San Sebastian Church? by Traveler on Foot




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12 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. ang ganda…magkano ang weeding fee dito sa church??

  2. San Sebastian church for me was a place to commune with God and a hideaway whenever my thoughts were rocking violently threatening my sanity already. When i first saw the altar on 1992 at around 6: 30 pm, i cannot pray since i was so overwhelmed by the sheer beauty of the gold laced altar. I have so many fond memories of San Sebastian both good and bad. I assure you thou that you can find God within the 4 corners of the massive structure.

  3. I believe San Sebastian Church has provided you with a respite from the stresses of law review lawstude.

    My pleasure.

  4. San Sebastian Church is one of a kind that stand only in our country Arnold. Its good to know that effort are made to preserve it. I hope the same effort is made to the surronding areas like Hidalgo Street which is also part of our heritage.

  5. This place is also memorable, my tia use to bring here hwne I was a child.

    The place is just amazing. The only one of its kind!

  6. this church is so memorable to me because i reviewed for the bar at san sebastian recoletos and this church served as my hideaway whenever i am stressed from reviewing. thank you for sharing this.

  7. We love to go to places tutubi.

    The reason I wanted to keep that kind of watermark is to encourage those who grabs pictures to give due credit to the owners of the images. I have no problems with people grabbing pictures for their own advocacies in the Internet for as long as they ask permission from the owners or acknowledge their source.

    I’ve seen some of my photos in other sites and the watermark was cropped. It is flattering yet I don’t want to tolerate the practice.

  8. an image of St. Sebastian is located on the highest niche of the main altar Desmond Reid (fourth photo from the top).

  9. My pleasure dyosa! thanks for visiting.

  10. Are there any images of Saint Sebastian in this truly remarkable church?

    If so, how may I view them?

  11. wonderful photos. thanks for sharing 🙂

  12. you’re traveling to so many places even if they’re just near, yet too “far” for most people.

    you’re using canon, right? btw, I suggest adjusting opacity of your watermark on your photos. sometimes it’s too distracting. just a suggestion, hope you won’t mind

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