The Church of Santo Domingo was possibly the most popular of eight that existed in pre-war Intramuros, according to the book La Casa de Dios principally authored by historian Fr. Rene B. Javellana.
This was because it housed La Naval, an image of the Virgin of the Rosary linked to a naval victory over the Dutch in 1646.
Every October, the church dedicated to St. Dominic of Guzman by the Order of the Preachers celebrated La Naval’s feast day with a procession that drew huge crowds of people. The event was even immortalized in literature by Nick Joaquin.
The structure erected in the mid-19th century was put up to replace a fourth one levelled by the strong earthquake of 1863. When this was destroyed by incendiary bombs on Dec. 27, 1941 during a Japanese raid of Manila, it wasn’t reconstructed.
La Casa de Dios described the Church of Santo Domingo as Neo-Gothic, prominently featuring two square towers on its facade and a quadrilateral tower over the main altar.
Portals and windows topped by Ogive arches decorated the structure’s front exterior portion.
“The interior had an air of gracious spaciousness, with groin vaulting and pillars set apart. The choir had a bronze railing of Philippine manufacture. The pulpit was artistically carved from native wood,” wrote Benito J. Legarda Jr. in a piece about the Intramuros churches in La Casa de Dios.
He added that La Naval was kept in a side chapel with other church treasures, including a gallery of tracery work, medallions representing the sacred mysteries of the rosary, an artistic altar, and a massive ornate silver tabernacle.
The image was saved during the bombing that destroyed the church and is now housed in the new Santo Domingo Church in Quezon City.
This modern office building on the site where the Church of Sto. Domingo once stood was constructed in the 1960s.