Heritage Sites

Molo Church: A Rare Philippine Gothic Church


Belle Piccio
Belle Piccio | May 22, 2014

St. Anne Parish Church, commonly known as Molo Church.

The church was built in 1831 under Fray Pablo Montaño and was completed in 1888 by Fray Agapito under the supervision of Don Jose Manuel Locsin.

The church is made of white corral rock and is considered as one of the most attractive churches in the Philippines.

The Molo Church marker.

The Molo Church marker. Installed in 1992 by the National Historical Institute declaring it a national landmark.

The two belfries have around 30 bells of different sizes which gift music to the ears when tolling.

The bells make musical tones because of their different sizes.

The gothic design is evident on the two pointed towers of the church as well as its interior elements, such as the altars and pulpits.

The altars are made of wood, the walls are adorned with beautiful murals painted by Mariano Mabunay and Jesus Huervas, and standing on a pedestal attached to a pillar under a gothic style mini-roof are the female saints.

It earned the moniker “women’s church” because of the 16 images of women saints found inside. They are the following:

  1. St. Apollonia
  2. St. Clara
  3. St. Cecilia
  4. St. Felicia
  5. Sta. Genoveva
  6. St. Isabel
  7. St. Ines
  8. St. Juliana
  9. St. Lucia
  10. St. Magdalena
  11. St. Marcela
  12. St. Margarita
  13. St. Marta
  14. St. Monica
  15. St. Rosa de Lima
  16. St. Teresa


The centerpiece in the retablo or the main altar is the image of Sta. Ana teaching the scripture to the child Mary, with the Holy Trinity at the top.

Sta. Ana is the mother of the Blessed Virgin Mary and is the patron saint of Molo. At the altar, you’ll also find the Sagrado Corazonde Jesus, San Judas Tadeo, San Esteban, and Sta. Rita de Casia.

The murals of the Crucifixion and Resurrection are painted at the left and right side walls of the main altar. When you look up the ceiling, you’ll find paintings of four evangelists, such as San Lucas and San Marcos.

It's believed that Dr. Jose Rizal dropped by Molo on August 4, 1886 on his way back to Manila from his exile in Dapitan. Rizal visited his friend, Raymundo Melliza, who brought him to the church where he prayed and viewed the biblical painting collection that was once there.

It is said that Rizal’s wrote an entry about Molo in his diary:

”We went to Molo to see the church painted by a lad who has left the locality. The church is pretty (Iglesia bonita) outside with paintings inside mostly copies of biblical scenes by Gustay Dore.”

How to Get There

From Manila, you can fly to Iloilo (estimated cost of Php3,000++, round trip, one hour).

The Iloilo Airport is 30 minutes (approximately 19 km) away from Iloilo City. From Iloilo City, you can take a cab or ride a “Molo” or “Villa / Arevalo” jeepney. Molo Church is located just beside the plaza of Molo, Iloilo City.

Related Story: A Fortress Baroque Church: The Miagao Church

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