The Church of the Augustinian Recollects in Intramuros was dedicated to their patron, San Nicolas Tolentino. The church with its cobbled patio, known as Iglesia de San Nicolas, was located near northern Muralla, almost at the end of Cabildo St., the least visible of the Intramuros churches. The Recoleto church was also an important shrine to San Jose, and throughout the year, several celebrations were held in his honor. There was a March devotion to the saint, and from November 18-26, the Recoletos came up with their biggest fiesta of the year, the solemnity of San Jose, highlighted with a pageant to honor the nuptials of Mary and Joseph.
This beautiful San Jose statue, showing the saint holding the Child Jesus on a base adorned with angels, occupied one of the many rococo altars that lined both sides of the Recoleto church. Regular masses were dedicated to the saint every Wednesday at 6:30 pm. These altars were removed to make the nave bigger during the renovation of the church for the 1937 International Eucharistic Congress held in Manila, the first in Asia.
The Iglesia de San Nicolas was host to some of the most beautiful santos that were the centers of many Recoleto celebrations. There was an old black image of Nstra. Sñra de Salud (Our Lady of Health) to which pregnant women prayed. Prewar Recoletos had gloried in having the oldest Nazareno image of the Philippines, which had a cult of Friday pilgrimages, just like the Quiapo Nazarene. The feasts of San Nicolas and Sta. Lucia were also celebrated with processions in September and December, respectively.
All these santos disappeared—some through assiduous renovations like the Salud Virgin—but mostly when Intramuros was bombed and razed during the second World War. Majority of the stately churches—including the Recoleto Church—were destroyed in this destructive episode of Philippine history. Only this pre-War ‘recuerdo del Solemne Novenario de San Jose’, salvaged from a thrift shop, is a reminder of the glory that once was Intramuros. Manila’s walled city and home to the most magnificent Spanish colonial churches in the islands.
Oh Glorioso San Jose, Esposo de Maria! Projetedenos y proteged a la Iglesia y a su cabeza visible. (50 dias de Indulgencia)