The town of Caraga in Davao Oriental has the distinction of having the oldest Catholic structure in the island of Mindanao. It was built by Fr. Pablo Pastells in 1884 when the Jesuits took charge of the spiritual administration of the town in 1871 from the Augustinian Recollects.
Northeastern and eastern Mindanao used to be called Caraga (now, the northeastern part is known as the Caraga Region) and were evangelized by the Recollects. It was reported that they were evangelizing in the town in 1639 and in 1751 was listed under them.
Upon the return of the Jesuits in 1859 (they were expelled in all Spanish dominions including the Philippines in 1768), there were moves to cede the territories under the Recollects to the Jesuits. With much hesitation of the former, Caraga the town was turned over to the latter only in 1871 and was served by a priest from Bislig. It was only in October 1876 that Frs. Pastells and Juan Terricabra took charge. In 1883, it was turned into a parish and is dedicated to San Salvador (Christ, the Savior of the world). Fr. Pastells laid down the plans of the church, the streets of the town as well as founded many of the barangays and municipalities near Caraga which bear many of the place names in his hometown in Spain and names of saints. During the outbreak of the Philippine Revolution, the Jesuits left in 1899.
The current church is made of rubble and is located on a high limestone promontory that gives it a defensive advantage as and a breathtaking view of the sea. It was renovated in time for its centennial with the old retablos and roofing replaced with new ones.