San Luis Church

San Luis Church
Church of San Luis in Pampanga, 2005 (Franz Allan Rodriguez)

Roman Catholic Parish Church of San Luis Gonzaga / Location: San Luis, Pampanga / Built before 1883

According to oral lore, the town of Cabagsa was renamed San Luis after Doña Luisa, the wife of a lawyer who worked in the town’s behalf against a land claim filed by the neighboring town of Santa Ana; Doña Luisa’s patron saint was San Luis Gonzaga, a Jesuit. The parish, administered by the Augustinians, is said to have been founded in the 1740s. Little is actually known about the history of the church building, except that it was greatly renovated in 1883.

The facade of the church presents a number of unique characteristics. First, it is concave, with the main entrance set deeper than the sides. Second, there are belfries instead of a pediment above the facade’s ground level; a pediment of sorts stands behind these belfries. Third, set in niches are images of saints belonging to the different orders not exactly known for their mutual friendship: the Jesuit, Luis Gonzaga, is the town’s patron while San Agustin represents the order who had jurisdiction over the parish. The joints of the cornice flanking the middle concave part are crowned with undulating dientzenhofer motifs, named after the family of architects who popularized these ornaments in the mid-18th century during the rococo period in Europe. With the exception of the dientzenhofer motifs, which are found surmounting churches and retablos elsewhere in the Philippines, all the other elements are found only in San Luis. Nineteenth-century neoclassical retablos have been preserved in its interior.

While the facade is purely of adobe blocks, the sides of the church consist of adobe blocks interspersed with square bricks laid horizontally. This technique, resulting in a checkerboard pattern, may have been one more attempt at strengthening the structure against earthquakes. Walls exhibiting this pattern can also be seen in Maragondon, Cavite, and Atimonan, Quezon.

SOURCE: Manila News-Intellegencer (1991)

Originally posted 2000-11-22 23:20:19.