Sunday, March 12, 2017

San Dionisio Catholic Church

The church of San Dionisio was constructed of wood with a palm thatched roof and dedicated in 1681. It was later burned in 1684 by those Chamorros who opposed the Spanish, rebuilt again of wood, and destroyed again by a typhoon in 1693. It was rebuilt in 1694 of coral masonry.

By 1690, after two European disease epidemics killed a large number of Chamorros, Umatac was the largest of five parishes on Guam, with 700 people. In the early 1700s, Rota, Guam’s neighbor island to the north, was at times administered together with Umatac by the church, resulting in close ties between Chamorros in those two parishes.

In 1849 a massive earthquake on Guam demolished many buildings including the governor’s palacio, the San Dionisio Church and the convento (the priests’ residence). Only the church was rebuilt, of wood and that structure was destroyed in the severe earthquake of 1902 that also crumbled part of the Dulce Nombre de Maria church in Hagåtña. The San Dionisio church would not be completely rebuilt until 1939 at a new location, where it still stands.

The Spanish masonry ruins of the old San Dionisio Church, which are located within fifty yards of the current church, are marked by a plaque, and are on the National Register of Historic Places.

This is the church today it sets to the side of the ruins of the old church.

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