Wednesday, March 14, 2012

A Visit to Taal Basilica:
Asia's Largest Catholic Church

Last Friday I went to the province of Batangas with some friends and that gave me the chance to see Asia's largest church, the Basilica de San Martin de Tours, also known as Taal Basilica.

Actually there was an original church built in 1575 near the shores of Taal lake but was destroyed along with the town when the Taal volcano erupted big time in 1754. So the town was transferred farther from the volcano to its present site and a church was built in 1782 but was destroyed in 1852 because of an earthquake. Interesting construction and destruction history, huh?

Another interesting thing about this church is that it houses the country's largest bell (6.42 ft in height, 19 ft circumference at the lip). I didn't get to see it (darn!) There's an area in the basilica where you have to pay Php 50 to get in. That's probably where the bell is. The guard should have mentioned that there was something remarkable in there. The thing is, you get to know these things after the trip, when you get home and research about the place. =/ They don't ring the bell anymore, by the way. It was damaged in the 1942 earthquake.

Anyway, it's really nice being inside a huge church with a lot of history. Especially in an ordinary day when there's no mass, you can loiter around and check out the the different areas and appreciate the decorations and statues.

The Taal Basilica is a good place to hear the Siete Palabras (Seven Last Words of Christ) this coming Holy Week. If you're gonna do it in Batangas, do include this National Shrine in your Visita Iglesia list. Know other historical churches you can visit in Batangas at BonggaBa.Com by my friend Don TriviƱo, who took me along the trip.

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