AN imposing structure right in the center of the plaza of heritage city Vigan in Ilocos Sur, the Cathedral of Vigan is difficult not to notice. Built in 1641, this church became a cathedral when the Diocese or See of Nueva Segovia was moved from Lallo, Cagayan, to Vigan on September 7, 1758. It was occupied by revolutionists under Col. Juan Villamor in 1896 and by American forces under Lt. Col. James Parker in 1899.
According to records of Vigan, the church has a façade that is divided into three levels with three portals flanked by coupled columns which rise to the second tier and decorated by two pairs of Chinese Fu dogs. It has a three-story bell tower located six meters to the south side of the cathedral. The bell tower has a square base and octagonal upper levels with a dome topped with a typical cock weather vane.
The Cathedral of Vigan also goes by the name Shrine of Apo Nazareno and Apo Birhen del Rosario. It therefore comes as no surprise that the two side altars in the cathedral are dedicated to Apo Nazareno on the north side and to Apo Birhen del Rosario on the south side.
The face of Christ in Vigan has been recognized since colonial times in the image of Apo Nazareno in the cathedral. It is brought out to the cathedral grounds to participate in a procession for Via Crucis during the liturgical season of Lent, and manifests the deep devotion of Ilocanos to Jesus Christ when He was growing up in Nazareth because they were the formative years that prepared Him for his mission of evangelization and salvation through the cross.
The cathedral, meanwhile, has a unique image of Apo Birhen del Rosario, who is depicted carrying her cape as a Filipina lady.