The 18th century fortress-church of Capul
For so many years, I’ve been wanting to visit the Capul fortress-church complex in Capul Island, Northern Samar but it was only last weekend that I finally made it. And I was in awe of the structures.
The fortress church of Capul guarded the embocadero, the passageway from the Philippines to the Pacific Ocean. The galleon, the lifeblood of the colonial economy, passed this way on its annual trip to Acapulco, hence, the strategic importance of this islet off the Samar Coast.
- Rene Javellana, author, Wood and Stone for God’s Greater Glory
It is unsure when the Jesuits arrived in Capul, but Javellana posits 1610 according to data that the Jesuits were working in Capul that year. The first structure was made of wood and light materials and was an important mission with Calbayog as its visita.
Not much is known when the church and the surrounding wall were built or when it was finished but in 1768, the last Jesuit priest of Capul, Fr. Esandi died on one of its ramparts during a Moro raid. After the Jesuit expulsion,of the same year, the Franciscans took over.
The bell tower was built in 1781 by Fray Mariano Valero and repaired the church. In 1869, it was made a separate parish. In 1898, the Franciscans opened a gate at the side wall facing the sea with its entrance arch pediment bearing the order’s seal and year.