Initially, Leandro Locsin designed the church for the Ossorio family, who was planning to build a chapel in Negros. Unfortunately, when Frederic Ossorio left for the United States, the plans for the chapel were scrapped.
However, in 1955, then University of the Philippines, Diliman Catholic Chaplain, Fr. John Delaney, S.J. commissioned Locsin to design a chapel that is open and can easily accommodate 1,000 people. The Church of Holy Sacrifice is the first round chapel in the Philippines with the altar in the middle, and the first to have a thin shell concrete dome. The floor of the church was designed by Arturo Luz, the Stations of the Cross by Vicente Manansala and Ang Kiukok, and the double-sided crucifix and altar base by Napoleon Abueva, all of whom are now National Artists.
Being a pioneering building, it almost suffered a setback during the construction of the dome when the weather suddenly changed as the concrete was being poured. If it had rained, the concrete would have not settled, and the whole project would have been in jeopardy.
The first mass in the church was celebrated on December 20, 1955. Since then, there have been modifications to the church and its surroundings. The gigantic dome, which used to be white, is now green. The altar base was also changed from wood to marble, still by Napoleon Abueva. Perhaps the most significant change is that the church is now fenced off, and the once open grounds that surrounded the church are now landscaped.
On January 12, 2005, the church was recognized as a National Historical Landmark and a Cultural Treasure by the National Historical Institute and the National Museum, respectively. During the recognition ceremony, National Historical Institute Chairman Ambeth R. Ocampo lauded the church as a “masterpiece of Filipino artistry and ingenuity”. Currently, the parish is spearheading a project that aims to restore the dome of the historic church.
The dome of the church is supported by pillars located at the sides of the church, so that there are no supports to block the space inside. The unique design of the dome allows natural lighting and ventilation. At the middle of the dome is a circular skylight, which supports the triangular bell tower. The bell tower, then extends to the interior, supporting the crucifix. The arrangement of the interior of the church is concentric, with the altar in the middle.