Argao Church: A Historical Sacred Parish in South Cebu

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Argao Church is a well-known historical landmark in South Cebu.

Aside from its irresistible local delicacies and decades-long weaving culture, Argao is famous for its colonial-period house of prayer, the San Miguel Arcangel Church.  

Aptly called Argao Church, this religious landmark in south Cebu is notable for maintaining its decades-old architecture, which is prevalent in many of Cebu’s countryside churches.  

It's one of the famous Philippine churches with Baroque design.

It is one of the oldest churches in the Philippines, with a history dating all the way back to when the town was one of Cebu’s eight vicarages (the residence of a vicar or representative of a bishop) in 1599.  


Wide shot of the Facade of the Argao Church

It is also one of the oldest churches in the Philippines.

Argao was officially declared a town or mission pueblo in 1608, then officially declared a parish (a district with its own church and parish priest) in 1733.

The Augustinian Order started constructing the church in 1734 under the supervision of Fr. Mateo Perez. It was completed in 1788, officially serving as the mother parish of Carcar during the Spanish colonial period. 

Unfortunately, the church was damaged when a typhoon struck Cebu in 1876. Years later, it was restored and declared a National Historical Landmark in 1998. 

Argao Church is named after the town’s patron saint, St. Michael the Arcangel, considered the town’s “teacher, guide, and one who leads.” 

Several miracles in Argao had been attributed to the arcangel, including one where Moro invaders retreated after a little boy ignited cannons on the town’s stone walls. 

Many speculated that the little boy was St. Michael protecting the town from possible danger. 

The town’s love for St. Michael is etched in the hearts and minds of Argaoanons, with many displaying statues of the saint inside their homes. 

The town’s yearly fiesta, the La Torta Festival, is even celebrated on the saint’s feast day, which is on September 29th. 

Today, devotees from around the world continue to visit this sacred site either to attend mass or admire the timeless design and architecture of the church. 


Argao Church is 72 meters long, 16 meters wide, and 10 meters high. It uses a cruciform shape, with a simple nave and transept typically found in many churches during the colonial period.

Its horizontal rectangle facade and pediment are divided into three panels by four columns. This style is only seen in five of over 160 Augustinian churches, each one built in the southern part of Cebu

The church originally used clay tiles for its roof, but these were replaced with galvanized iron to help withstand earthquakes.

As you enter the semi-circular arched entrance, you can see why Argao Church is one of the most famous Philippine churches with Baroque design. 

On the ceiling, you will see murals from Cebuano painter Raymundo Francia, who was commissioned to paint the church’s ceiling in the 20th century. 

The paintings depict important biblical moments, including the Battle of Lucifer and Saint Michael and the temptation of Adam and Eve.  

The church’s central altar shines with a striking gold color, with statues of St. Michael in the middle, St. Gabriel on the right, St. Raphael on the left, and a sculpted image of the Virgin Mary atop. 

There are also several vintage features of old churches maintained within the parish. Their pipe organ, for example, is one of only three that remains in Cebu. It has a total of 700 pipes, providing 22 different timbres. 

At the right side of the altar is a pulpit, which was used in the past to amplify the priest’s voice. Although it isn’t used much today, it shows how churches have evolved throughout the years. 

This is one of the reasons why structures like Argao Church are famous attractions among tourists and locals, as it reveals the historical significance of religion and faith on the island ever since the Spanish colonization. 

Aside from being a sacred place for prayer, the San Miguel Arcangel Church is a place to marvel due to the skills and creativity of Cebuano artists. 

Argao Church is located at Poblacion within the town plaza. To view the mass schedule, visit this site: Mass Schedule Philippines: Archdiocesan Shrine of San Miguel Arcangel (Argao Church)

You can also visit their Facebook page for more details and updates: Archdiocesan Shrine of San Miguel Arcangel – Argao, Cebu

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