Mar. 08, 2023 03:24 PM
Starting from the 27th of February up to 25th of March 2023, the Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene set off to begin the month-long series of Lenten Pilgrimages to the Archdiocese of Lipa, Batangas. This activity, spearheaded by the Formation Ministry, is intended to facilitate the church’s pastoral workers and the thousands of volunteers from various ministries and organizations that constitute the entire community of the Quiapo Church entering into the spirit of Lent.
The Lenten Pilgrimage is an avenue for the faithful to do self-penance and moral contrition while contemplating the Paschal Mystery of the Black Nazarene in the continuous renewal of faith and commitment to the Lord in this holy season in the Catholic liturgical calendar.
The National Shrine and Parish of Saint Padre Pio; Parroquia de la Ciudad de Santo Tomas de Aquino; St. John the Evangelist Parish Church; Metropolitan Cathedral of San Sebastian; St. Therese of the Child Jesus Parish-Lipa; Archdiocesan Shrine and Parish of St. Joseph the Patriarch; and the Minor Basilica of St. Martin de Tours were the following pilgrimage churches visited.
The pilgrimage mass celebrations of this month-long activity are set to hold at the Chapel of the Transfiguration at the National Shrine of St. Padre Pio as the first stopover of the pilgrimage. Afterward, two of the fourteen (14) prayers that contemplate the 14 Stations of the Cross are recited in every pilgrim church.
The National Shrine and Parish of Saint Padre Pio in Barangay San Pedro, Sto. Tomas, Batangas was established as a parish in 2003 and declared an Archdiocesan Shrine in 2008 by former Archbishop of Lipa, Most Rev. Ramon Arguelles, D.D. In the following year, 2009, the main church commenced construction led by former Parish Priest, Rev. Fr. Joselin C. Gonda, that is currently seen. Eventually, in 2015, the place of worship was declared a National Shrine after a unanimous agreement made by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP).
The second stop was the Parroquia de la Ciudad de Santo Tomas de Aquino, or St Thomas Aquinas Parish Church under the Archdiocese of Lipa. According to the parish documentary video, the church was established in 1606 in the town of Sto. Tomas, and was founded by Dominican missionaries, and was named in honor of its Dominican theologian, Thomas of Aquinas. As time went by, history was crucial to the development of the church. One of the relevant narratives was the 1945 American liberation of the Sto. Tomas town, which had included the church, during the Japanese occupation. Due to the people’s strong faith, the church was reconstructed successfully through the generosity and solidarity of the succeeding parish priests and the townspeople. With a tribute to St. Thomas of Aquinas, he inspired the people to use their gift of intelligence to seek God.
The third stop was at St. John the Evangelist Parish Church, also called the Tanauan Church. Based on the official booklet of the church, on the 5th of May 1584, the Augustinians founded the earliest church of Tanauan dedicated to the protection of St. John the Baptist. However, there were no records of why the saint had become the town’s patron. The primary religious structure was made from wood and finished in the 1690s. In 1732, the construction of the stone church was praised by the people as beautiful as the one in Lipa. However, the onslaught of the 1754 Taal Volcano and World War II during 1944 have been the deciding events for the church’s restoration. What is seen in the church at present are the works of Fr. Godofredo Marino with the help of Arch. Jose Zaragoza in the 1948s. In 1968, the altar was rebuilt after it had caught on fire.
The fourth stop was at St. Therese of the Child Jesus Parish-Lipa. The church is based in Talisay, Lipa City. The parish was built on the 7th of July 2008 and was dedicated on the 10th of July 2009. The church was designed by Architect Maria Cristina V. Turalba and constructed by Engr. Roldan L. Lopez. Together with Rev. Fr. Hermogenes Quiambaoin, its first Parish Priest, and Rev. Fr. Ernesto I. Mandanas Jr., Rector of the San Sebastian Parish Cathedral, who had financially supported the construction, the church was successfully built and fulfilled the aspirations of Most Rev. Ramon Arguelles, D.D., former Lipa Archbishop that this holy place would guide and protect the four (4) barangays under the patronage of St. Therese of the Child Jesus, namely: Talisay and Lumbang of Lipa City, and Sta. Cruz and Sta. Teresita of Sto. Tomas, Batangas.
The fifth stop was at the Metropolitan Cathedral of San Sebastian. The cathedral was formerly known as the Convent of San Sebastian in Comintang under the administration of the Augustinians, dated back on the 30th of April 1605. This church had its fair share of testimonies that it underwent several reconstructions and renovations after it suffered from casualties and atrocities brought about by the 1945 Taal Volcanic eruption and World War II, respectively. Today, what is seen in Lipa Cathedral are the recorded efforts of then Bishop Alejandro Olalia to recreate the church almost precisely as it appeared in the late 19th-century appearance, with additional elements in the 1950s. Interestingly, this had become among other unique and remarkable churches built during the search for the new diocesan seat of the Southern Tagalog Region, which the towns of Batangas, Bauan, Lipa, Taal, and Tanauan competed. Historically, Lipa had been officially chosen as the current territorial jurisdiction of the bishop. In addition, the city was favored because of its cool climate, described by Most Rev. Giuseppe Petrelli, D.D., Archdiocese of Lipa’s first bishop.
The sixth stop was at the Archdiocesan Shrine and Parish of St. Joseph the Patriarch. In reference to the actual website of this church, its history of establishment can be traced back to its first construction led by Fr. Jose Victoria in the 1762s. However, the church had to be reconstructed after it was damaged by a fire incident under the supervision of Fr. Ramon Sanchez in the 1856. Following that, a series of restoration and renovation initiatives were managed by the following priests: Fr. Bruno Laredo, Fr. Vicente Maril, and Fr. Victoriano Perez. The later phases of construction and beautification efforts for the house of worship were achieved through Fr. Lucio Aguilar in the 1968s and Fr. Ronulfo Alkonga, OSJ (Oblates of Saint Joseph) in the 2000s. The year after, the church bestowed the title of Archdiocesan Shrine during the tenure of Rev. Fr. Joey Apin, OSJ, Parish Priest, on the 19th of March 2001. Inside is the miraculous image of St. Joseph, encased in glass and placed at its minor altar. It has been the tradition, especially for the devotees, to knock three times on the glass barrier to call his attention, whisper for petitions, or to contemplate with gratitude for answered prayers.
The last stop was at the Minor Basilica of St. Martin de Tours, commonly known as the Taal Basilica. This minor basilica is prided as the largest Catholic Church of the Far East in the Philippines and Asia. Located atop the hill in the heart of Taal, Batangas, within the Archdiocese of Lipa, the church is astounding for its measurement of 96 meters in length and 45 meters in width.
Historically, the church had undergone significant renovations and crucial relocations that shaped this religious structure into a minor basilica and declared a national shrine on the 8th of December 1954 and the 16th of January 1974, respectively. Originally, the first church was built near the banks of Taal Lake, where the San Nicolas municipality lies today. The building was constructed primarily by the Augustinians under the supervision of Fr. Diego Espina in the 1575s. However, the 1754 explosion of Taal Volcano devastated the church entirely and engulfed Taal Town wholly. Along with the movement of the entire town to its existing site, the new construction of the church was managed by Fr. Martin Aguirre in 1755s. This time, the 1852 earthquake caused another destruction for the church. Yet, restoration works remained active through the spearheaded efforts of Fr. Marcos Anton, in collaboration with Architect Luciano Oliver delegated the task of rebuilding the torn church from 1856-1878 for two decades.
The church was finally reconstructed when the main altar was erected as overseen by Fr. Agapito Aparicio in the 1878s. According to the townspeople, the church dedicated to its patron, St. Martin de Tours, has stories of apparitions. In one of the myth accounts shared by Sr. Lerma and in accordance with the Catholiserve page, there had been eyewitnesses of supposedly St. Martin de Tours in the form of horsemen flying over the crater of Taal Volcano and was believed to be warning them of the impending dangers of the volcanic eruption. In addition, there were mysterious sounds of horse hooves warning the town of the dangers and that the people should seek refuge. That is how the people continue invoking the powerful intercession of St. Martin de Tours up to this day, as the known guardian of the Taal Volcano and as their spiritual protector from all calamities and other crises.
To conclude, Rev. Fr. Robert Arellano, LRMS, Parochial Vicar of the Quiapo Church, left an insightful message that challenges the entire community of faithful of the Black Nazarene to work together and carry the lessons from the pilgrimage. Also, be aware of the many lessons learned to strengthen one’s faith and, at the same time, enhance the Quiapo Church as a dignified place of popular devotion and religiosity in spreading the people’s faith based on wisdom, truth, and enlightenment.
-Kidanzac A. Tallada & Alfrein Quirionez