San Vicente Church

San Vicente Church
Church of San Vicente in Ilocos Sur, 2012 (Photo by Betty Lalana and Lino Arboleda, Ortigas Foundation Library Collection)

Roman Catholic Parish Church of San Vicente Ferrer / Location: San Vicente, Ilocos Sur / Built 19th century

The churchyard is one of the few in the country surrounded by a swayback wall. The church is rectangular in plan. Aside from the front portal, there are two side portals, one of each side of the nave, facing each other. The convento is not located along the line of the facade, as is usually the case. It is at the rear, forming a right angle with the church. The buttresses supporting the sidewalls of the nave are unusual since they consist of plain sloping buttresses alternating with vertical buttresses that bulge at the bottom, suggesting the profile of a long-necked jug. Both types of buttresses have sloping tops.

Although not grand in scale, the facade is one of the gems of colonial church architecture in the Philippines. It is not a single plane like most church facades, but is slightly broken, with the central section appearing to protrude, while the side sections recede. The two-story front wall of the nave is crowned by a pediment. Engaged columns with ionic capitals and square bases divide the wall vertically into five sections. The end sections, which are narrower than the three in between, terminate in pilasters. On the pediment of the facade is an oval medallion with a trumpet, the symbol of San Vicente Ferrer, a Dominican and titular of the church.

The facade is flanked by two three-story bell towers which are as high as the pediment. The bell towers are square in plan on the first story and octagonal on the second and third stories. The sides of the octagonal stories are defined by engaged columns, and are alternately pierced by arched windows. The walls between windows are adorned with blind arches. The domed roof of each tower is surrounded by a low parapet, octagonal in plan, with a finial at each corner. Each dome is topped by a lantern.

The first story of the facade appears like a massive base for the upper stories. In its middle section is an arched portal, the main entrance of the church. In the central portion of the second story is an arched window. In each section flanking the middle is a round window, decorated with leaf-like forms on the upper half of the frame. On the second level of each bell tower, resting on the corners of the square-shaped first story, are tower-like finials.

From each end of the pediment, the raking cornice slopes upward then dips downward to form a shallow curve that rises and forms a volute that appears to lift the gable-shaped upper section of the pediment. On the horizontal cornice of the pediment are urn-like finials. Rising from the raking cornice of the pediment are seven finials—one on the apex, and three on each side.

The entire facade, including the bell tower, is characterized by the dynamic movement of lines and planes and the richness of forms. Although the facade has been described as baroque, its grace, lightness, and accented vertical thrust reveal a playful rococo spirit.

SOURCE: Manila News-Intellegencer (1991)

Originally posted 2000-11-22 23:46:10.