Aside from Cebu City, its neighbor, Mandaue City, is also home to the only church in the archipelago featuring a life-size depiction of the “Last Supper” called the Señor de Cena. The National Shrine of St. Joseph Parish is located in Mandaue City. It was established in 1601 by the Jesuits.
Mandaue was established as a mission by the Jesuits in 1600 after acquiring the land in the area. Prior to this, the Augustinian missionaries were the first to serve the needs of the people of Mandaue. But they handed the task to the Jesuits in 1599. St. Joseph the Patriarch was installed as the patron saint of the parish. The image is the oldest image that is public venerated in the Philippines.
The church did not appear to have a priest assigned to it until 1724 when records indicated that a Jesuit was assigned to Mandaue. Aside from Mandaue, he was also tasked in taking care of the people in Inabanga and Talibon in Bohol. The church was described to have been “sufficiently deteriorated” in a report in 1789. Augustinian writers Felipe Bravo and Manuel Buzeta described the structure as mediana fabrica or mixed fabric. When the Jesuits were expelled in 1768, the administration of Mandaue was handled by the Recollects until 1898.
A major renovation was undertaken in 1998 where the pillars supporting the roof were removed. The renovation made the church rather different from its original appearance. A book published by Felipe Redondo in 1886 described the church as being shaped like a Greek cross featuring a pair of octagonal chapels.
The church was declared a national shrine by His Eminence Ricardo Cardinal Vidal, then cardinal of Cebu, on August 6, 2001. During this time, the reconstruction of the church was not yet completed. The life-size statues depicting the Last Supper continue to be the main attraction of the Church. It also features life-size images of Saint Joseph as well as the Child Jesus.
The National Shrine of St. Joseph Parish in Mandaue City also plays a role in the annual Sinulog festivities. The images of Our Lady of Guadalupe and the Santo Niño are brought to the church in the annual translacion or transfer. The event reunites the image of Mary and Jesus with St. Joseph. The images of the Holy Family will stay the night before the images of Our Lady of Guadalupe and the Santo Niño will board a yacht for a fluvial parade along the Mactan Channel.