St. James Parish Church symbolizes the early Christianization of Dapitan. The old Spanish masonry and architecture are still evident even if a century has passed since its construction. It was built in 1871 in honor of St. James the Great who is the patron saint of Dapitan.
St. James Parish Church is the second church in Dapitan, Philippines. The first church was constructed between the years 1631-1767. Except only for the finishing, the exterior walls which is more than a meter thick and its design are original. The altars and interiors had been renovated several times because of deterioration over time. A priceless heritage pipe organ that bears a year marking of “1827” can be found at the choir loft. It was brought to Dapitan in 1864 by the Augustinian Recollect Priests. It is a German made organ with European pipes and a manual pump.
In St. James Parish Church, there is a historical spot where Rizal stood while hearing mass on Sundays during his exile in Dapitan from July 17, 1892 to July 31, 1896. The Jesuits missionaries stayed in Dapitan for about 221 years (1629/1631-1767) and (1864-late 1940’s) while the Recollect priests stayed in Dapitan for about 96 years (1768-1864). In 1944, Japanese soldiers used this church as a resting/sleeping area for about five days.
Currently St. James Parish Church needs financial support and donors. They call this as “Adopt a Pew” program. It is a project of the Parish Pastoral Council and aimed at replacing the dilapidated pews (or benches) inside the church. Donations can be channeled to the Parish office. For more information on this program you can contact the Parish Priest or the PCL Chairman at (065) 213-6202 or 09192513673.
St. James Parish Church is strictly implementing the proper attire when going inside to hear mass. Caps, shorts and sleeveless are prohibited. Wearing of tube type wedding dresses is also not allowed.
St. James Parish Church is just across Dapitan City Plaza and the Relief Map of Mindanao. It is a 5 minute walk from the foot of Ilihan Hill. This is one of the many old churches that can be found in the Philippines. Other old churches which also serve as tourist attractions are Baclayon Church in Bohol, Dauis Church in Panglao, Sto. Nino Church in Cebu and many more.