History of Holy Rosary Parish
A traveler approaching the city of Angeles, upon seeing the twin towers of the church, makes this exclamation in mind. “There is Angeles! The most distinctive landmark of Angeles City today is its historic and treasured monument: the Holy Rosary Church .
In 1796, Don Angel Pantaleon de Miranda, then the Capitan Municipal Mayor of the new capital town of San Fernando and his wife Dona Rosalia de Jesus and some of their followers proceeded north of San Fernando . They made the first clearing of the thickly forested area, became a new settlement, a barrio of San Fernando, known as “ Culia t” after the culiat vines that were abundant in the place.
It was the practice of the wife of the founder, Dona Rosalia and the early settlers to carry the image of the Blessed Virgin Mary in a procession in every new clearing. Her belief was that the new settlement would be safeguarded against the incursions of aetas who often frightened the new settlers. After some years the said couple seeing how they prospered in the locality, thought of constructing a Chapel funded by them. It was made of wood and nipa and furnished it with all that is needed for the celebration of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. For this they obtained from the Church authorities the appointment of a Chaplain, to attend to the spiritual needs of settlers in that area. It was under the parish of St. Ferdinand, in San Fernando, with Fr. Juan Sablan as the first chaplain.
The population of those areas having increased considerably, the spouses, already referred to as the Founders, petitioned both Civil and Church authorities that it be erected into a town; separating it from San Fernando. After eight years of constant endeavor, and the opposition of the Parish Priest of San Fernando, the authorities conceded. Thus on December 8, 1829 , it was made into a new town with the gracious name of “ANGELES” in honor of the Holy Guardian Angels, which became the Titular Patrons, and also for being the namesake of the founder Don Angel. The Church authorities placed the new town under the patronage and protection of the Most Holy Virgin of the Rosary. It was also in this year that the founders donated a land to the church for the maintenance and stipend of the parish priest, this was called ‘patrimonio', it was an area of 35.35646 hectares and was situated in Culubasa and Suclaban, an area in Mexico.
The first fiesta held in honor of the Blessed Virgin of the Holy Rosary was celebrated in 1830. This is to commemorate the naval battles won by the Spaniards over the Dutch Fleet off Luzon . It also served to remember the devotion of the early settlers, particularly Dna. Rosalia to the Blessed Virgin of the Holy Rosary. The celebration came to be known as “ Naval ” festivity. Every year thereafter, it was observed on the 2 nd Sunday of October.
1831- the first confirmations were celebrated in the parish with the Most Rev. Jose Segui, the Bishop of Manila, as the confirming prelate. In January 23, 1834 – the town's first church made of mixed materials was inaugurated replacing the old chapel made of light materials. A catholic cemetery situated in Cutcut was also given to the parish to serve the parishioners of Angeles in 1857.
In 1873, the silver Tabernacle was blessed and the ‘ Convento ' was also completed during this time. It is now occupied by the Benedictines of Holy Family Academy.
And in October 18 1877 – there began the excavation for the foundation of a greater and permanent church of strong materials. A new church was built, which today is basically of the same structure. The marker beneath the choir loft states:
14 ya ing Abril
The Holy Rosary Church is a living monument. It is not only to the engineering and architectural skills of a certain Don Antonio de la Camara from Manila, a great admirer and exponent of the Byzantine art, but also the unselfish and untiring cooperation of the townspeople of Angeles during the church's construction for almost twenty years. The splendid spirit of cooperation was shown by all; the Parish Priest Fr. Ramon Sarrionandia OSA; the landed families under the leadership of Don Mariano V. Henson and above all small farmers and tenants, without whose patient labours the edifice would not have become a reality. It was not finally completed until Feb. 12, 1896 wherein the twin bells were rung for the first time.
In 1897, natural and man made disasters and tragedies occurred. Prominent people of the town gathered at the convent after the naval fiesta and asked the Parish Priest Fr. Rufino Santos Perez OSA for a celebration in honor of “ Apung Mamacalulu ,” Our Lord of the Holy Sepulcher. This is to be preceded by a “Q uinario ” or a five-day mass in honor of the five wounds of Jesus. Their rationale was that through the mercy and intercession of “ Apu ” the town might be safeguarded from evil times and spared from disasters. The pastor gave permission and on Oct. 29 the devotion to “ Apung Mamacalulu ” culminated and it was deemed to celebrate it every last Friday of October.
1898 was the end of the Spanish regime and the last Spanish friar, was Fr. Baltazar Gamarra and the native clergy were given control over the parishes with Fr. Vicente Lapus becoming the Parish Priest of the town. In 1899, in the height of the Philippine revolution, the town's inhabitants began evacuating it. The Parish Priest, had to move to Sapang Bato also, and a chapel, made of cogon and bamboo frame was constructed there to serve as a temporary parish, the ‘ Naval ' and “ Apu ' festivities were celebrated there. At the same time, the parish church and the adjoining convent served as the military hospitals and troop barracks of the American Army. The start of 1902 served as the return of the war evacuees to their homes, and as an aftermath of the war, stands out the irreparable loss to the church in destroyed materials, looted valuables.
Oct. 8, 1910 – the Colegio de la Sagrada Familia, then under the management of the Augustinian Sisters was inaugurated. And in June 15, 1922 the Benedictine Sisters took over the supervision of the Colegio, now the Holy Family Academy .
April 6, 1928 – After the Good Friday procession, this marked the day the image of the ‘ Apu ' was deposited in barrio Lourdes due to a row between the present Parish Priest and the caretaker of the image.
In June 3, 1933 , Sapang Bato was established as a parish by Fr. Pedro P. Santos, separating her from the Holy Rosary Parish, her mother parish. It was also during this time that Holy Angel College was founded.
August 15, 1938 , was a shining moment for Holy Rosary Parish, the parish priest, Msgr. Pedro Santos, was solemnly consecrated at the Manila Cathedral as Bishop of Nueva Caceres.
As World War II raged all over from 1940 to 1945, the ravages of war took a toll again on Holy Rosary, on January 7, 1945 an American Bomber' Mitchell' B-25 struck the roof of the nave of the church, causing a big gash in it. Fr. Cosme Bituin, the Parish Priest had his hands full in rebuilding the damaged church.
Post war period saw Angeles grow northward getting closer to Clark Air Base the sugar cane and rice fields were turned into new barrios, the expansion of the base was a contributing factor in the phenomenal growth of Angeles. It led the parish to be subdivided into smaller parishes to serve more the spiritual needs of the people.
Today, more than ever the edifice of the Church still serves as a beacon to travelers, it not only serves as a landmark of Angeles, more importantly it serves as an oasis to weary souls in their pilgrimage to our heavenly home which is Heaven.
Chaplains of Barrio Culiat
(Parish of San Fernando)