Elevated as a Diocesan Shrine in 2005, the Santa Ana Parish Church in Barili has gone through several reconstruction and renovations since the first structure was erected at its present site in February 1889.
Two things set Barili apart from other parishes: it was the only one in the Archdiocese dedicated to Sta. Ana, the mother of the Virgin Mary, and the first in Cebu to be run by secular priests.
It was founded in 1614, according to the book Balaanong Bahandi, citing other historians. Writing about Barili, Felipe Redondo in Breve Reseña said the date of its creation was uncertain but the oldest entries in the parish books date back to October 15, 1748.
Original stone foundations
Fr. Juan Alcoseba, who served as parish priest from 1889 to 1910, was credited with the construction of the first structure at its current location. The first church site was near a river and would occasionally get flooded so parishioners agreed to transfer it to a safer place.
Since Alcoseba’s time, the Santa Ana Parish Church had been renovated in the late 1950s by Fr. Emilio Vicentillo, who also added the concrete belfry, and in 1974 by Fr. Francisco Boltron.
“Despite modern alterations, the church still retains its original coral stone foundations and walls which rise up to a meter then give way to the cement walls,” added the Balaanong Bahandi.
Special church features
Some notable characteristics of this church: memorial to Bishop Juan Gorordo in the church’s right side, beautifully carved statue of Santa Ana at a niche in the facade, four huge reliefs of the Evangelists in the interior corners, antique image and relic of the parish patroness enshrined in the altar at the gospel side.
The Santa Ana Parish was believed to be located in the old barrio of Giloctog. In his book, Redondo named Fr. Alonso Roman de Castañeda as incumbent parish priest of Barili when he was named Vicar Forane of the district on October 16, 1619.
With the brief time period between 1614-1619, the Balaanong Bahandi believes it is likely that Fr. Castañeda was also Barili’s first parish priest.