A week after our Pilgrimage in Pangasinan, my mom and i were lucky enough to be part of another Pilgrimage tour organized by the San Roque Parish in Cavite City. This time, we visited seven great churches in the province of Laguna. Laguna has so many great churches to offer and we may not be able to visit them all (Check List of Churches in Laguna for Visita Iglesia), we at least had the chance to see seven of them.
We departed from Cavite at around 3am and arrived in our first destination at around 7.
National Shrine of San Antonio De Padua – Pila, Laguna
Our first stop is the recently declared National Shrine of San Antonio De Padua in Pila, Laguna. It is very interesting to note that it is the first Antonine parish church in the Philippines in 1581 and probably in Asia. It was founded in 1578 by the Agustinians as a villa and eventually elevated into a parish status in 1581. The oldest surviving church bell of Pila was cast on the centenary of the parish in 1681 with the Franciscan emblem and the inscription “San Antonio de Pila.” It survived British invaders in 1762 when the people of Pila submerged it in Laguna de Bay facing the church. It is now the third-oldest church bell in the Philippines. The people behind the parish was really accommodating and we even had a chance to witness a first class relic of Saint Anthony.
Immaculate Conception Parish in Santa Cruz, Laguna
Our second church was in Santa Cruz Laguna dedicated under the patronage of Immaculate Conception. Immaculate Conception was first established as a chapel of ease and became an independent parish under the advocacy of the Immaculate Conception in 1602. The church was destroyed by fire in January 28, 1945 during the Liberation and was reconstructed in 1948. Besides the devotion to the Virgin Mary, an image of the Holy Guardian Angel, whose devotion started in 1678 by Fernando de la Concepcion, was venerated in Santa Cruz.
Diocesan Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe – Pagsanjan, Laguna
The third stop is the Diocesan Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Pagsanjan, Laguna. It is home to the patroness of Pagsanjan, Our Lady of Guadalupe, whose image was a gift from Mexico. It is also considered as the oldest church in the Philippines under the patronage of Our Lady of Guadalupe. The church was heavily damaged by American and Filipino military bombers on March 15, 1945 during World War II but a replica of the church was constructed over its ruins, without the original dome. In 2012, the Pagsanjan Church was declared as a Diocesan Shrine.
Saint James The Apostle Parish – Paete, Laguna
The fourth stop is the popular old church in Paete dedicated under the patronage of Saint James the Apostle. The church is known for its huge and exquisite collection of images depicting the Passion of Christ, its century-old paintings and wooden images of saints. The first stone church and convent were built by Paete natives under the supervision of Fray Andres de Puertellano in 1646 but it was later destroyed by an earthquake in 1717. The church served as a dungeon and torture house to the people of Paete during the Japanese occupation of the Philippines in World War II. Another notable feature of the church are the huge murals of Saint Christopher by Luciano Dans.
Read More – Saint James The Apostle Parish – Paete, Laguna
Saint Peter of Alcantara Parish – Pakil, Church
Next to Paete Church is another old church in Pakil, Laguna dedicated under the patronage of Saint Peter of Alcantara. The church is also designated as the diocesan Shrine of Nuestra Señora Delos Dolores De Turumba, one of the most prominent Marian images we often see during the annual Grand Marian Procession in Intramuros (Check: 39th IGMP). The first church was founded in 1676 and was utterly damaged on numerous occasions including fire in 1739 and 1851, earthquakes in 1881 and 1937 and during the second world war. It is also interesting to mention that the Turumba Festival in honor of the Our Lady of Sorrows is the “largest and longest religious celebration in the country”
Read more – Saint Peter of Alcantara Parish – Pakil, Church
Nuestra Señora De Candelaria Parish – Mabitac, Laguna
Our sixth church is located on top of the Kalbaryo hill in Mabitac, Laguna. The church is dedicated under the patronage of Nuestra Señora de Candelaria. Its church is known for having a staircase of 126 steps, a panoramic view of the town of Sta. Maria and Laguna lake. The first church of Mabitac was the aforementioned church between the two barrios of Siniloan but due to flooding, the Franciscans transferred the church on top of Calvary or Kalbaryo Hill in 1618 and made it out of stone. The church was utterly damaged by earthquakes in 1880 and 1937.
Nuestra Señora de la Natividad Parish – Pangil, Laguna
We concluded our Visita Iglesia in Laguna in Nuestra Señora de la Natividad in Pangil. Pangil was founded as a visita or hermitage by Franciscan in 1579. It features a very simple facade with a very spacious interior. The church enshrines a statue of the pregnant Virgin Mary known as the Nuestra Señora De la O is said to be a gift from King Carlos III of Spain. The church also houses the image of Santo Niño de la O.
It was truly a rewarding experience to witness all these great churches. You will definitely appreciate the rich history behind their amazing structures. Above all, it was another spiritually enlightening pilgrimage for me and for the rest of the parishioners of San Roque Church in Cavite City.
I will post a separate article for each church on my future entries
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