As mythical as the tale that the Daraga church was built by young maidens or Daraga is the
common belief that it was built after and on account of the eruption of Mayon Volcano that buried the town of Cagsawa in 1814. The historical truth is that it began to be built more than 40 years earlier, in 1773
to be exact.
Historical records show that way back in 1772 some people from Cagsawa asked permission from the National Government
to transfer their town and church to a nearly settlement known as Daraga, then a sitio of the town of Albay.
The request was granted by the Spanish Governor General, Don Simon de Anda y Salazar in a letter dated June 12, 1772,
wherein he instructed the Alcade Mayor of the Province of Camarines to supervise the transfer of the town of Cagsawa to the
place of Daraga so that the town be formed with streets near the church that is to serve as the center for the benefit of
The order must have been implemented right away. There is no better proof
that the official seal of the municipality of Daraga that bears 1772 as the year engraved on it.
The church was still under construction and on its way to completion in 1777, as can be gathered from a letter written
by the Franciscan Provincial to the Governor General, asking that it be finished and the latters letter of instruction to
the Alcalde Mayor to find our whether the construction of the church is finished and in case it is not, to promote its completion
with the greatest vigor. Whether it was completed before the fateful eruption
of 1814 has not yet been ascertained.
The next thing we here about Daraga church is
that it was finally consecrated in 1854, the year Pope Pius 1X declared the dogma of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed
The American forces bombed the church during the World War II. The roof was completely blown up and the right wing
and wall partially destroyed. Right after the war, it was hurriedly reconstructed. Then, it deteriorated very fast. In 1971
it underwent another complete reconstruction and remodeling of the interior especially the altar to make it conform to the
norms of the celebration of the Liturgy as renewed by Council Vatican 11. The
reconstruction was happily finished before the bicentennial celebration on December 8, 1973.
Eighteen years later in 1991, to be faithful to
its structural design, the altar was returned to its original position.