Apalit Parochial Church
Located at the town plaza, it was built in the year 1629 - 1630 and designed in Baroque architecture. The painting on the ceilings and dome are filled with beautiful paintings and are worth studying. The style of the facade is reminiscent of European neo-classic churches. It was rebuilt by Father Antonio Redondo between the years 1876 - 1880. Its towers were finished in 1896 by the Rev. Toribio Fanjul, who purposely made them low to minimize the effects of earthquakes.
Bgry. Lourdes Sur, Angeles City, Pampanga
This is the shrine of the replica of Our Lord of the Holy Sepulchre or Santo Entierro (Apung Mamacalulu). Devotees from all over Pampanga flock to this shrine every Friday to venerate the supposedly miraculous image of Jesus Christ lying in the sepulchre. It is also every Friday when people buy household items, clothing including audio-video equipment in a makeshift market called "tiangge" at bargain prices. It was in 2012 when the chapel was decreed by Archbishop Paciano Aniceto, at the recommendation of Auxiliary Bishop Pablo Virgilio David, as an archdiocesian shrine during the canonical rites. Aniceto also established the chapel as a "center of mercy." The original image, a gift by Fr. Macario Paras to the Holy Rosary Parish in Brgy. Sto. Rosario in 1872, is enshrined in the same parish. Aniceto also assigned Fr. Enrique Luzung as the shrine rector. (Source: Inquirer Central Luzon, March 25, 2012)
Betis Catholic Church
The jewel in the crown is the Betis Church (Santiago de Galicia Parish), built in the early 1700s and repaired continually throughout the 1800s. The unadorned exterior does not prepare the visitor for what he's about to witness inside: the main altar (retablo) with ornate carvings and saints peering out of their niches like ancient dolls, and the paintings on the ceiling that attract comparison with the Sistine Chapel. NCCA and National Museum declared this church a National Treasure, one of only 26 churches in the country bestowed that honor. The main attraction is the original ceiling mural done by the famous painter Simon Flores (1839-1904). Not to be missed are the original Simon Flores painting of the Holy Family, the artesian well (dug in the 1800s) in the patio - the first well in the country to be so situated, and the rare betis tree nearby, donated by Prof. Randy David, a sociologist and native of the town. A two-minute walk from the church is the restored David House, ancestral home of Randy David, which they christened Bale Pinauid or Bahay Pawid. RELATED ARTICLE: The Story of the Betis Church. The baroque-inspired Betis Church was built around 1660 and it was headed by Father Jose de la Cruz. The preliminary structure was made out of light materials which was composed mainly of wood and stucco. Fire broke out within the church several times due to these light materials so it was finally built with concrete materials in 1770. In the last quarter of 19th century, Father Manuel Camañes dug an artesian well on the north-side of the church which served as a source of potable water not only for the Betis townsfolk, but to the other nearby towns as well. On the other hand, the present-day concrete fence with caryatids was built in the 2nd quarter of the 20th century. The Nave of the Betis Church. In 1908, the rectory of the church was burned with fire and all the documents about baptism and other historical catalogues of the church turned into ashes. Beautification of the interior part of the church was extensively done by the last Spanish priest named Father Santiago Blanco in 1939. The ceiling paintings were repainted by a native of San Agustin named Macario Ligon. His assistant named Victor Ramos, who was in his teen years then was also the one who restored these paintings in the 1970s. During the Spanish-Colonial period, Betis is an independent town which has its own autonomy as a municipality. But due to migration of its inhabitants to the nearby Guagua in the American Period, it was merged to this town in 1904 under the Act 943. Today, although part of the municipality of Guagua, the Betis church has its own parochial priest and has its patron saint named St. James the Great. (Source: http://betis.wetpaint.com/page/The+Story+of+the+Betis+Church+)
Church of Lubao
Built in 1572, by Architect Fr. Antonio Herrera, the Augustinian mission constructed this church in 1614-1630 out of locally made bricks and sand mixed in egg albumin. The church was occupied in 1898 by the revolutionary forces, used as hospital in 1899 by the American forces, and was destroyed in 1942 by the Japanese shelling. It was then repaired in 1949-1952 under the direction of Fr. Melencio Garcia. It measures 82.45m. long, 21.12m. wide and 10.50m. high. The walls are 2.46m thick. It has one nave originally painted by Italian artists, Dibella and Alberoni. The five story belfry 15.31m. high remains unrestored.
Church of Magalang
San Bartolome Church - Established by the Augustinians in 1605, it was the scene of the encounter between the followers of Andres Malong led by Melchor de Vera and the Spanish troops in 1660. Moved to San Bartolome in 1734, the church was swept by Parua river in the flood of 1863. It was re-established in Barrio San Pedro on December 13, 1863. The 3-aisle church is made of stone and wood. It is 55m. long, 21m. wide and 7m. high. Interplay of arches, as seen on the main entrance, doors and niches, pediments and fenestrations, including those of the bellowers and adjacent convent suggest a touch of baroque.
Holy Rosary Cathedral
Angeles City, Pampanga
Located at the intersection of Sto. Rosario and Sto. Entierro Streets, the Holy Rosary Church was constructed from 1877 to 1896 by the townspeople of Angeles by forced labor system known as "polos y servicios" imposed by the Spanish colonial government. From 1899 to 1900 the church was used by the US Army as a military hospital. In 1896 - 1898, the backyard of the church became the execution grounds to the Spanish forces in shooting down Filipino rebels and suspects. It has a beautiful transient and measures 70m. long, 20m. wide and 12m. high. The dominant element of facade is the symmetry created by recessed arched windows which are in harmony with the segmented ones.
Metropolitan Cathedral of San Fernando
City of San Fernando, Pampanga
Metropolitan Cathedral (City of San Fernando) - The present church may have been built by the end of the 18th century, constructed most probably by Fr. Sebastian Moreno, its parish priest in 1756, and was restored in 1808. The church measures 70m. long, 13m. wide and 11m. high. The round majestic dome rising from the rotanda of the transcept is reminiscent of the baroque style with some renaissance touch. It is the seat of the Archdiocese of the City of San Fernando, Pampanga. President Emilio F. Aguinaldo and his cabinet viewed the Phillippine Revolutionary Army from the windows of the convento on October 9, 1898. The church and the convento were burned by the Philippine Revolutionary Army on orders of Gen. Antonio Luna on May 4, 1899. It was again destroyed by fire in 1939, and later restored by Pampango Architect Fernando H. Ocampo in 1948. It was canonically erected on June 25, 1975. The looming structure of white, beige, gray and maroon may look ancient, but both exterior and interior are relatively new, really neo-Art Noveau with faux columns.
The Minalin Church (Sta. Monica Parish), located on the town's highest ground called burul (the town had moved to its present site due to flooding, hence 'minalis,' later corrupted to minalin) but despite its elevation, silt from the river has already invaded its beautiful church. The peeled palitada reveals the original red brick walls, giving the church its unique old-rose touches. The ancient mural paintings in the adjoining convent, one of which is a primitive-looking map with details of trees, ducks, crows, a boat, a hunter and a crocodile. A detail not to be missed are the corbels and beams in the convent and high up in the church's ceiling, with carvings that some say depict pre-Hispanic pagan deities like naga (serpent), dapu (crocodile) and galura (eagle), but Siuala ding Meangubie believes they depict only one creature, bulig (mudfish).
Our Lady of Divine Grace Parish Church
This church was said to have been established in the year 1768, but a more realistic date would be around the early 1830s. The oldest bell in the parish is dated 1835, during the term of Fr. Jose Varela, the town’s first cura parocco. Cast by 19th c. Quiapo bell maker, Mac.(ario) E Los Angeles, the bell pre-dates those cast by the more renown Hilario Sunico. A second bell, dated 1846 is dedicated to Nuestra Señora de Grasia ( as spelled). It is certain therefore that a structure of more permanent materials must have existed earlier to house these bells. The Estado General of 1879 reports that the parish was elevated to a vicariate status under the titular patronage of Nuestra Snra. De Guia around 1836. In November 23, 1881, in compliance with the Recollect Provincial Chapter of 1876, the Mabalacat parish was named as one of the head parishes (“priorato”) of the San Nicolas de Tolentino province, together with Sta. Cruz, Balayan in Batangas and Boac, Marinduque. The Recoletos have always had an early devotion to the Nuestra Señora de las Gracias (Our Lady of Graces) and it is certain that they propagated this among Mabalaqueño converts. The original shrine in Guadalupe, Makati was first dedicated to her Divine Grace. The imposing image of the seated Mater Divina Gratiae in the main altar was installed during the term of Fr. Felipe Roque. In one of his visits to Rome, he beheld the a similar image in San Giovanni Rotonda (home of stigmatist saint, Fr. Pio) and was inspired to have a copy carved after the original image. The Virgin is flanked by the figures of San Joaquin and St. Ana, installed through the sponsorships of Dna. Paz vda. de Wijangco and Dna. Maningning de Naguiat respectively. The recent repainting of the images was done in 2002. (Source: http://viewsfromthepampang.blogspot.com)
San Guillermo Parish Church
San Guillermo Parish church is one of the oldest and largest churches in Pampanga. It was constructed by the Augustinian friars in 1576 on the lot of Don Guillermo Manabat, a rich landlord believed to be the founder of Bacolor. The church was restored by Fr. Manuel Diaz in 1897. The church measured 56m. long, 15m. wide and 12m. high. It has a central nave and an ample and well-lighted transcept with windows. The main retablo, side retablos and pulpit are gilded with goldleaf. The richness of the decoration of Bacolor is indicative of the advanced stage of its baroque style. In spite of the 1991 eruption of Mt. Pinatubo which half-buried the church on Oct. 1, 1995, masses are still held every Sunday morning.
Visitors go in the church through the choirloft windows, and are greeted inside by beautifully restored retablos dug up from several feet of lahar. The citizens of Bacolor take pride in their rich heritage which is why they painstakingly excavated the ornately carved wooden main and side altars which are now back to their pristine condition.
Villa de Bacolor was the capital of Pampanga from 1754 to 1904, and at one time served as the capital of the Philippines from 1762 to 1765 when the British invaded Manila. Once Pampanga’s best preserved heritage town, it was completely buried in lahar in 1995. Today, remnants of Bacolor opulence are now housed in the Museo de La Salle, a “Kapampangan” museum in Dasmariñas, Cavite, where the Santos-Joven-Panlilio house and its contents were transferred before the town was buried by lahar. The museum also contains pieces from the celebrated Arnedo-Gonzales clan from Sulipan, Apalit. (Source: Ivan Henares: Ivan About Town Blog)
San Luis Church
San Luis, Pampanga
The San Luis Church (San Luis Gonzaga Parish) is located in a place that used to be called Cabagsac, referring to the proliferation of fruit bats. In fact, today, a fishnet is permanently installed high above the altar precisely to catch thousands of bats that are roosting inside the church. The interior is dark, has an ambience of antiquity and mystery and overpowering odor of bat urine. The main attraction is the three-tower facade, perhaps one of its kind in the country. Not to be missed is the ancient cemetery located in a hidden corner at the back of the church, with some tombstones dating back to the 1800s and bearing the names of the town's prominent families, including Taruc..
St. Andrew Parish Church
St. Andrew Parish Church (Candaba) - The simplicity of line and scarcity of ornamentation are the main traits of the facade of this church, the triangular pediment with its protruding center helps maintain the simplicity of line. A new feature of the facade is the depressed three-centered arches of the windows on the second level. The second level is separated by a cornice decorated with geometric designs.
St. Anne Parish Church
Sta. Ana, Pampanga
St. Anne Parish Church (Sta. Ana) - The church is 58m long, 14m wide and 13 m high. The recently applied coat of red and white paint has turned this centuries old church into a gaudy 20th century anomaly. The massive hexagonal four-storey bellower has blind and open recesses, keeping with the symmetry of the facade. It ends in a balustrated dome topped by a cross.
St. Catherine Alexandra Church
St. Catherine Parish Church (Arayat) - One of the oldest churches in Pampanga and known for its classical architectures. No records on builder and date of construction of present church. The church measures 70m. long, 16m. wide and 12m. high. The presbytery, ceiling and the main altar have been recently renovated. The original stone of the facade has been covered with cement and painted white
St. Joseph Parish Church
St. Joseph Parish Church (Floridablanca) - Pseudo-Gothic elements blend subtly along the classic design of the structure. The flame-like arch of the main entrance and lateral doors provide contrast to the triangular pediment. The structures are simple and the large voids lend drama to an otherwise bare design.
St. Michael Archangel Parish Church
St. Michael Archangel Parish Church (Masantol) - The church was built by the parish priest of Macabebe who attended to the spiritual needs of Masantol. The center bell tower is of renaissance influence. The cemented facade contrasts with natural texture and color of the original stones at the sides.
St. Nicholas of Tolentino Parish Church
St. Nicholas of Tolentino Parish Church (Macabebe) - It was founded in 1575 under the advocation of San Nicolas de Tolentino. The church measures 70m. long, 17m. wide and 11m. high. The facade of the church has scantly ornamentation and its architectural symmetry is lost amid and the various forms assumed the windows and the main entrance. Simple neo-classic lines of the facade.
Sta. Lucia Parish Church
Sta. Lucia Parish Church (Sasmoan) - The church is 45m long and 11m wide and 6m high. An author described it as "very beautiful and of very good condition". When looking at the complex of church and convent, one is stuck by the impression that the round and rectangular openings are capriciously aligned. This makes the facade both interesting and unique. Attracts devotees from all over the provinces to honor Sta. Lucia and ask their petitions. She is believed to be a miraculous saint.
Santa Rita de Cascia Parish Church
Sta. Rita, Pampanga
Building of the church had to be delayed until late 19th century due to economic adjuristicial conditions. The single-nave church is 55m long, 13m wide and 10m high. It has a large and well lit transept. The solid brass facade has baroque characteristics and the single columns are relatively slender. The parish is the site where the Holy Relic of Saint Rita de Cascia is enshrined. The parish first obtained the First Class Relic of the saint through the help and assistance of His Excellency, Most Rev. Riccardo Fontana of Spoleto-Norcia, Italy, the archdiocese to which Cascia belongs. Archbishop Fontana forwarded the Relic through the mediation of the Apostolic Nunciature in Manila to Archbishop Paciano Aniceto who in turn handed it over to the parish of Santa Rita de Cascia on August 17, 2008. The First Class Relic is from the flesh “ex carne”of the Saint. As noted in its accompanying Certificate of Authenticity, the relic was part of the last batch extracted from the incorrupt body of Saint Rita in 20 August 1972. The reliquary is laid open for public veneration every August 17. St. Rita of Cascia (1381) was born in the Italian town of Roccaporena. When her husband and twin sons died, she entered the Augustinian Nuns. The next 40 years of her life saw St. Rita devoting herself to a life of prayer, and works and deeds of charity as dictated by the rules of St Augustine. At age 60, while meditating before the cross, a wound seeming afflicted by a thorn appeared on her forehead. St. Rita began boring the sign of stigmatization which is considered being one with Jesus. Because of the stigmata, she suffered in pain for the next 15 years which she courageously accepted. St. Rita died on May 22,1457. Her intact and incorrupt body is kept and honored in the shrine at her hometown on Cascia, Italy. Log on to http://www.santaritaparishasf.org/