(The Carigara Mission)
The first recorded instance of the celebration of the feast of the Triumph of the Holy Cross in Carigara was in July 16, 1595,
during the arrival of the Jesuit missionaries Fr. Pedro Chirino, Fr. Antonio Periera, Fr. Juan del Campo and Fr. Cosme de
Flores and the layman Gaspar Garay. Carigara became the center of the Jesuit mission in the island. The zeal of the early
Jesuits manifested itself in the many conversions that took place in Carigara. Don Cristobal de Trujillo who was then the
encomendero of the area welcomed the missionaries, and with the help oi the natives built a temporary chapel. A day school
was organized byFr. Encinas. Daily mass was followed by catechetical instructions and the new converts learned several rhymes
in the verse from the traditional Visayan folk songs. A choir composed of children was trained to assist at divine service.
By 1597, two-thirds of the population was baptized.
The Jesuit Missionaries were also considered the agents of civilization for while they labored on the preaching of the Christian
religion, they also taught the natives matters for their own improvement. They were all things to all men, missionaries, engineers,
artists, musicians, architects, agriculturists and teachers. Since Carigara was the Residencia Central of the Jesuit Mission
all newly arrived missionaries were trained here, learning the local dialect and customs of their assignment. The Jesuits
also made Carigara its experimental station for new plants and animals arriving from Europe. These were first acclimatized
here prior to their distribution to other Jesuit mission stations. It is significant to mention that the first cacao plant
was propagated in Carigara.
At the Archives de Indies at Seville, Spain, are records of two members of the Carigara Residencia who merited special mention:
Fr. Melchor de Veyra who was credited as being the architect and engineer of numerous watch-towers that dotted the coast of
the Visayas, and a layman, Juan de Ballesteros, a Spaniard, who donated his services to the church. He helped construct the
mission chapels and convents, teaching the natives in dressing stone and mining lime with them. With amazing versatility,
he was a cook, sacristan, gardener and carpenter. He also taught the Carigara boys the Villancicos and Spanish folk dances.
It is noteworthy to mention that in 1621, during the canonization of Sts. Ignatius and Francis Xavier, the Carigaran-on Choir
and Dance Ensemble carried off the first prize over all others in the whole archipelago.
The church of Carigara, according to Franciscan records, is located on latitude I degree 16'20" north. it is worthwhile to
mention that except for the hardware and special stories which were imported directly from China, Mexico and Europe, everything
else, the dressed coral lime and wood were of local origin. Fr. Hilarion Corvera is credited for the construction of the church.
In 1866, during the visitation of Bishop Jemeno, the altar in the church was consecrated. To commemorate the event, a stone
plaque bearing the date was placed over the keystone of the eastern door. In 1879, the painting of the ceiling was finished
which included in its design the Franciscan coat of arms. It was during the tenior of Fr. Bernardo de Rebolledo when the church
and convento were finally completed. The old convento which was located on the west side of the church along Rebolledo St.
was later given up in 1945 to the Holy Cross Academy as a temporary school building. In the book of accounts the following
entries are reflected:
August,1871-----Plastering and painting of walls;
December,1873---Purchase and installation of roofing tiles
1875------------Construction of Sacristy
1877------------Construction of choir loft and steeple
1879------------Painting of the ceiling which included in its design the Franciscan Coat of Arms.
Facts about the Carigara Catholic Church
Height - side-----20 meters
1. Concrete Belfry, Tower and Baptistery
2. Concrete Choir Loft
3. Concrete Facade
4. Concrete Arches
5. Marble Altar