St. Columban Church
In 1941 Archbishop John Cantwell asked the Society of St. Columban to administer to the spiritual needs of the growing Filipino population in Los Angeles. Finally in 1945 a building was leased at 1035 S. Fedora St. where Sunday Masses were celebrated in 1945-46. (This building is now a Korean kindergarten in Koreatown.) Due to a growing congregation an old fire station at 125 S. Loma drive was purchased and through many Filipino volunteers was transformed into a serviceable church where the first Mass was celebrated on January 1, 1947. Soon a larger church was needed and the present church was built on the existing site and the first Mass was celebrated on September 10, 1967 (The old fire-station was demolished.) On June 30, 1968, the new church was dedicated by His Eminence, James Cardinal McIntyre.
A notable feature of St. Columban Church is its fine mosaics, especially of the Baptism of Jesus by St. John the Baptist; there are also four more mosaics – one on the front of the main altar symbolizing the Eucharist; the Sto. Niño over the main entrance inside the church, one of the Lamb of God outside, over the main door, and then the outside wall over the front porch has a mosaic of the Holy Spirit. The bells of the church are historic, having come from Antipolo in Rizal Province, Philippines. The present statue of Our Lady in front of the church came from the now closed Columban House on 2600 N. Vermont Ave. This statue was originally donated to the Columban house by a parishioner, Mrs. Phil Viloria. It was moved to St. Columban Church with the help of Antonio Buffa, sculptor, was blessed and rededicated on the Solemnity of the Assumption, August 15, 2015 with Fr. John Marley as preacher. On the opposite side of the entrance to the church stands a very fine statue of St. Columban; this was damaged many years ago but Tony Buffa skillfully made a new left hand to repair the statue. Inside the church entrance are statues of San Lorenzo Ruiz, the first Filipino saint and of San Pedro Calungsod.
The church sits on one of the five hills that circled the old Los Angeles; this hill is called Crown Hill. In the 1890s Crown Hill was the epicenter of a massive oil boom when Edward L. Doheny and Charles A. Canfield bought a lot at Colton Street and Glendale Boulevard; on November 1892 they struck oil and the boom was on. Belmont High School, opposite the church, opened in 1923 on the site of the old Belmont Hotel from which the school got its name; at one time it was the largest public school in America.
The area where the church is situated is part of Historic Filipinotown established on August 2, 2002 in a resolution proposed by then city council member, now Mayor, Eric Garcetti.