One of the oldest missions in the Philippines founded in 1580, Tanjay once served as the mother church of the independent parishes of Dumaguete (1620), Siaton (1848), Amlan (1854), San Jose (1895), and Pamplona (1952) in Negros Oriental.
Its name was derived from the words Tanay, Tanai, and Taytay that originated from the beautiful and thickly settled river valley by mostly members of an indigenous group from Bohol, explained the book “Handurawan: Visita Iglesia Negros Y Recoletos” published by Tolle et Lege.
Although a very old parish administered by its very first priest Fr. Diego Ferreira with assistance from the Jesuits, Tanjay was only officially established as a town in 1901 and inaugurated as a city about a century later on March 31, 2001.
Crisis of faith
Tanjay underwent a crisis of faith by the end of the 17th century leaving parishes without resident priests so that different religious orders had to come in and help. The problem was remedied and the parish did not anymore lack overseers in the 18th and 19th centuries.
The Augustinian Recollects began to administer Tanjay in 1886. First to be assigned to the parish was Fr. Jose Maria Ruiz and he was the resident priest until his death on October 17, 1870.
Fr. Jorge Carcavilla, parish priest from 1886-1889, initiated the construction of the current church, which was later completed by Fr. Julian Adan during his term in 1889-1898. Succeeding priests contributed by making improvements or repairs on the structure.
A huge statue of parish patron Santiago de Compostela on horseback that’s mounted atop the church is a 20th century addition.