Pakil Church

Pakil Church
Church of San Pedro de Alcantara and Diocesan Shrine of Nuestra Señora de los Dolores de Turumba in Pakil, Laguna, 2016 (Vonna Vista)

Roman Catholic Parish of San Pedro de Alcantara Church Complex / Location: Pakil, Laguna / Built 1732-67

The St. Peter of Alcantara Parish Church (Filipino: Parokya ni San Pedro Alcantara), designated as the Diocesan Shrine of Nuestra Señora de los Dolores de Turumba, is a Roman Catholic church in Pakil, Laguna, Philippines. It enshrines the Our Lady of Turumba painting.

Pakil was a former visita (mission chapel) of Paete, a few kilometers to the north. As a parish it was administered by the Franciscans. The first church was made of bamboo. The foundations of a stone structure were dug in 1732, and work continued for more than 30 years. The church and convento were finally completed in 1767. Enshrined in the church in 1788 was the image of Nuestra Señora de los Dolores, more popularly known as Turumba and presently honored with seven feasts beginning with Biyernes Dolores, the Friday before Palm Sunday. The convento was damaged in a fire that devastated most of Pakil in 1851. An earthquake in 1881 destroyed the bell tower and ceiling of the church. Another earthquake damaged the church in 1937. Repairs were done afterwards, but the topmost story of the bell tower was not reconstructed until 1980 to 1984.

The body of the church is made with alternating bands of yellow adobe and bricks, while the bell tower is made solely of bricks. The church is cruciform and with a shortened transept, as in the Tanay and Paete churches. Its ornamented facade is similar to that of others in the Laguna Lake towns, with Corinthian columns and floriated crosses in decorative frames flanking the main entrance. Angel heads are distributed on the facade and the bell tower. Above the main entrance is a niche with crosses, foliage, and a shell-like dome, containing a stone sculpture of the patron saint. The side entrance is decorated to appear like a retablo. This side door is known as the Portiuncula after the Franciscan mother church in Assisi. It was customary to have a Saturday morning procession in honor of the Virgin Mary, passing through this door. Anyone who joined the procession and passed the door earned an indulgence similar to what would be received by a pilgrim to Assisi.

The church has three retablos in the florid baroque style. The central retablo, four stories high, contains 11 niches. The central one displays the image of the Turumba. Columns are used throughout. The two side retablos, three-stories high, are mirror images of each other and are lushly covered with floral decorations and foliage. On the wall near the pulpit hangs a bas-relief of San Francisco de Asis receiving the stigmata of Christ on Mt Alverna, while the miracle of the Eucharist performed by San Antonio de Padua is on the opposite wall. This depicts a donkey kneeling before the Blessed Sacrament, preferring to adore the Sacrament rather than eat. Three other retablos are found in the church. The one at the epistle side of the nave immediately after entering the church door features a Calvary scene sprouting rococo motifs. The crucified Christ, one of the most expressionistic in the country, has articulated arms and is removed from the cross during Holy Week, cleaned, perfumed, dressed, and adorned with silver for the Good Friday procession of the Santo Entierro. The images of Mary and John are small and disproportionate to the Christ figure.

The two-story convento has a brick arcade that encloses a small garden. Stone steps covered with black-and-white tiles lead up to the second story. The upper story, with floors of molave, has corridors overlooking the garden. The convento has recently been restored, reinforced and returned to its use as a residence. A door adjacent to the gospel nave opens to steps that lead to the pulpit.


The church forms a cruciform and has a measurement of 162 by 36 feet (49 by 11 m). It is constructed in the Corinthian and Ionic architectural orders. Its facade has classical Corinthian columns and cornices across a floral stone relief. The church’s side entrance is elaborately designed which is typical of churches in Laguna. To one side of the facade is a belfry housing four small bells and one huge bell.

Sanctuary of Pakil Church

The main retablo is painted in white and has a pantheon of 14 saints housed in an elaborately carved niche with the Archangel Michael towering above. There are two smaller retablos on either side. Father Ronald Reagan constructed an altar marble consecrated by Archbishop Alejandro Olalia in 1959 where the image of the Nuestra Señora de los Dolores was enshrined. A pulpit and a large painting depicting the concept of Heaven, Earth, Hell, and Judicium Finale (Final Judgement), created by Jose Dans, a 19th-century artist from Paete, can also be found. A life-sized figure of a crucified Christ is found in a smaller retablo near the church entrance. The church’s Stations of the Cross were made by local artists.

Inside the church, there are original century-old images and church ornaments. Adjoining the church are a convent, sacristy, adoration room/chapel, and an ecclesiastical museum in honor of the Our Lady of Turumba. The museum contains clothes, perfumes, jewelry, and other historic memorabilia. The original oil painting, found by fishermen, can also be found inside the chapel.

Our Lady of Turumba

The Nuestra Señora de los Dolores de Turumba (Our Lady of Sorrows of Turumba) is a 9 by 11 inches (23 by 28 cm) oil on canvas painting of the Virgin Mary. It is a replica of Nuestra Señora de las Antiguas, which was found by fishermen on September 15, 1788 after a storm. It was found floating in Laguna de Bay on the bank of the Matamig River and its presence began the devotion of Our Lady by the church. The Turumba Festival in honor of the Our Lady of Sorrows is the “largest and longest religious celebration in the country”. It consists of seven Turumba novenas, or lupi, for seven months commemorating the seven sorrows of the Virgin Mary.

SOURCE: Manila News-Intellegencer

Originally posted 2000-11-22 20:48:52.