Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Touring the oldest churches in the Philippines


 Baclayon Church
Bohol is one of the Philippines' most devout provinces, as evidenced by the many venerable churches that still stand on the island. Baclayon Church is the most beautiful of them all: a coral-walled church built in 1717 within sight of the sea. 

The Church's limestone, coral and wood construction have seen it through some pretty tough times, preserving the many intricate details within. A gold altar screen (reredo) contains a number of santos (statues of saints), the whole construct filling up the wall behind the altar. Above the reredo and altar, a contemporary fresco bears a depiction of the last supper, as well as a Spanish inscription dedicated to the Virgin Mary: Ave Maria purisima, sin pecado concebida ("Hail purest Mary, conceived without sin").

A museum on the second floor preserves relics from the Church's storied past: choirbooks covered with cowhide, priestly vestments, and holy artwork. On the other side of the church, you'll find a pipe organ first built in 1824: recently restored, the organ now plays at every mass celebrated in the church.
To see Baclayon Church at its most vibrant, visit during the feast day of the Immaculate Conception on December 8, or during the second "unofficial" fiesta on the third Sunday of June. (Photo by Harvey Tapan)

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