Two Shrines done and one to go!
After visiting the Shrine of the Our Lady of the Holy Rosary of La Naval de Manila and the Shrine of the Our Lady of Lourdes, I now head for the oldest among the three churches that I have on my Good Friday itinerary two weeks ago.
Hidden by the many residential and commercial properties in the busy neighborhood of San Francisco Del Monte Quezon City, the Sanctuario de San Pedro Bautista is like a real sanctuary at the end of the street named also to the martyr Catholic saint that once roamed the town.
Spanish priest and Catholic saint, San Pedro Bautista once lived in the Philippines and is one of the 26 Spanish Christian martyrs who was killed in Nagasaki, Japan in 1597.
The Sanctuario de San Pedro Bautista or simply known as the San Francisco Del Monte Church was built in 1696 dedicated to San Pedro Bautista and the 26 Martyrs. But before the construction of the church, then Father Pedro Bautista is said to be the first to build a chapel in the woodlands of San Francisco Del Monte and dedicated it to the Our Lady of Montecelli way back in the 1590’s.
The main church was under construction when I went there last Good Friday. A makeshift altar stage was constructed inside the church since the main altar renovation is still not finish. It did not look much like an important Shrine at the time because the degradation of the whole church structure is severe and very visible. There’s indeed much work to be done to restore it to its former beauty and I hope they do this at the soonest possible time.
Aside from the sculpted 14 stations of the cross located at the front of the main entrance of the church, there’s really not much to see at the Sanctuario de San Pedro Bautista – oh so I thought. And I thought wrong.
I later learned that afternoon that located at the side of the church is the facade of the original church – the church’s main entrance that I first saw when I got there is a new addition and was constructed only in 1970.
Adjacent to the original facade is the entrance to the ‘Patio de San Francisco’ that houses the original convent of the Franciscan missionaries, a garden and a very old courtyard. The hallway exhibits some old paintings, prints, religious artifacts and a couple of dioramas depicting the life and martyrdom of San Pedro Bautista.
At the center of the old courtyard is the statue of Saint Francis of Assisi.
Another passage way will lead you to a bigger area called ‘Brother Sun, Sister Moon Garden’ that contains another statue of Saint Francis of Assisi and a Bell Tower.
My accidental discovery of the Patio de San Francisco in the Sanctuario de San Pedro Bautista was a surprising and inspiring event that perfectly capped off my Good Friday pilgrimage in this part of Mega Manila.
I can’t wait for next year, and for more discoveries as I attempt to know more about myself and to learn more about my faith by visiting the visible histories that my homeland is rich with. To be part of its living heritage by telling its stories, one place at a time.
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