Located in the historic town of Pila, Laguna is the four-century old church dedicated under the patronage of Saint Anthony of Padua. Interestingly, this is the first Antonine church in the Philippines and in Asia. Just last year, the church was elevated to a national shrine which makes it the 25th shrine in the country.
Pila Church or now, the National Shrine of Saint Anthony of Padua has a very huge historical significance. In fact, both the church and the plaza in front of it (as well as the ancestral houses surrounding it) were declared as National Historical Landmark in year 2000. The church was elevated to a Diocesan Shrine of San Antonio de Padua in 2002.
The first missionaries in Pila were Augustinians who administered their missions from Bay, Laguna. The Franciscans then started to evangelize the townsmen of Pila in 1578. They started to established “Villa de Pila” and soon built a church out of cane, dedicated to St. Anthony of Padua, marking it to be the first ever church to be dedicated under the patronage of San Antonio de Padua.
From the structure made out of cane, they soon build a stone church. Both the stone church and a rectory were completed in 1617. The Franciscans established the second printing press in the Philippines in 1606. Interestingly, the first Tagalog dictionary Vocabulario de la Lengua Tagala by local pastor Fray Pedro de San Buenaventura was printed here in 1613 by Tomás Pinpín and Domingo Loag.
The church comes with a beautiful facade. It has a three-level facade with classical Doric columns. At the pediment is a niche reserved for St. Anthony. The second level has three stained-glass windows with images depicting the bible, the Risen Christ and the Blessed Sacrament respectively. The niches on the lower level, on the other hand, features the statues of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and Immaculate Heart of Mary. On the left side of the church is a three-level brick square-based octagonal bell tower.
Outside the church, you’ll find these old bells. 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 interior of the church is equally mesmerizing.
The main altar of Pila Church. The upper niche enshrines the image of Immaculate Conception. The center niche features the image of Saint Anthony above the tabernacle. The two side niches has the image of Saint Roch and Saint Joseph respectively.
Saint Anthony of Padua
There’s also a wooden pulpit on the right side of the church
When we went there last year, we were lucky enough to witness a first class relic of Saint Anthony.
Liceo de Pila, a former convent located adjacent to the church which is now being used as a school building
The bell tower of Pila Church
Pila Church was part of our Laguna Pilgrimage last year. After Pila, we went to Santa Cruz to visit the Immaculate Conception Parish.
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You can check more of my Visita Iglesia series below
►List of Churches in CAVITE for Visita Iglesia
►List of Churches in BATANGAS for Visita Iglesia
►List of Churches in LAS PIÑAS and PARAÑAQUE for Visita Iglesia
►List of Churches in ZAMBALES for Visita Iglesia
►MANILA Pilgrimage Tour
►FIVE JUBILEE CHURCHES in MANILA
►List of Retreat Centers Near MANILA
►FATIMA Churches in CAVITE
►Seven Churches in TARLAC for Visita Iglesia