Lucban Church

Lucban Church
Church of San Luis Obispo de Tolosa in Lucban, Quezon, 2013 (Mariano Sayno)

Roman Catholic Parish of San Luis, Obispo de Tolosa Church Complex / Location: Lucban, Quezon / Core of the church perhaps from ca 1640; convento renovated 1743, after the earthquake of that year; new facade 1748-68; third level of bell tower concluded after 1813 / Allied bombing in 1945 reduced the church complex to a shell

Located on the lower slopes of Mt Banahaw, Lucban is best known for its Pahiyas fiesta, held annually on 15 May to honor San Isidro Labrador. Franciscans began their evangelization of the area in 1578, although a permanent minister was not assigned until 1595. The first wooden church built at that time had deteriorated by 1629, when the town moved to another site. Foundations were laid for a church, tower, and convento in stone; the church was built 1630-40, while the convento was completed in 1650. The nipa roofs were replaced with tiles in 1683. A fire ravaged the complex in 1733, where only a ciborium and image of the Inmaculada Concepcion were saved. Within five years after that, the old walls were raised by about a meter. In the earthquake of 12 January 1743, the church facade, half of the tower, and the second floor of the convento collapsed, but the retablos were saved. A Royal Accord of 17 September 1743 allocated the tribute for three years toward the rebuilding of the churches of Majayjay, Liliw, Nagcarlan, Santa Cruz, Tayabas, Sariaya, and Lucban, and exempted the townspeople of these towns from cutting timber for the galleons for the same period.

The convento was finished in 1743. In 1748 a new church facade was begun and completed 20 years later in 1768. A transept was added to the church under the direction of Capitan Santiago, a native of Atimonan. Work on the transept, its dome, and ceiling was completed in 1806. In 1812, Fr Ramon Sanchez lightened the color of the reliefs in the church to reduce their intensity. He also had the dome and other arches of the nave painted. An octagonal bell tower was built using material gathered since 1813. Fr Victorino del Moral repaired the church and added a stone staircase to the convento in 1855. On 9 September 1859, fire swept the town and burned the church’s dome and the vault over the main altar. On the night of 20 November 1879, a typhoon destroyed part of the town. Five years later, in a letter of 8 July 1884, Fr Victor Lopez reported that he found both church and town in the most deplorable state. In 1893, Fr Garcia Clemente roofed the convento with galvanized iron. In 1945, American planes bombarded the church complex on the supposition that Japanese troops had taken position in it. The Lucban Church is a mere shell of its former self.

The facade is distinctive because of its repetitive use of arches for ornament. Even the pediment is not the customary triangle but a series of five arches. The pinnacle is an arch and a pair of arches descend from either side of the pinnacle. The lowest arches curve into volutes. Columns decorated with flowers and foliage divide the facade into three bays while twin decorative bands separate the stories. The main entrance and windows employ Roman arches decorated at the capstone with cartouches. Niches housing saints flank the central window of the upper story, thus making the facade resemble a retablo.

Lucban Church was marked by the Philippines Historical Committee (now National Historical Commission of the Philippines) in 1939.

SOURCE: Manila News-Intellegencer

Originally posted 2008-11-22 04:12:03.