SUNDAYS and the daily mass, weddings and christenings, these are times when worshippers enter the halls of God for prayers of thanks and mercy.
The Holy Week is probably the busiest time for the Catholic Churches, Maundy Thursday most especially. It is the time when the devotees do the Lenten practice of Visita Iglesia. This also offers the chance to revisit the other churches beyond one’s parish.
But the Seven Churches Visitation (sometimes fourteen churches, depending on the particular practice) doesn’t offer the church’s grandeur and beauty as the Holy Sacrament is moved from the main altar to the Altar of Repose for the Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament in a side chapel.
Perhaps you can do the church rounds on another day. It will give you the chance to admire the beautiful interiors of the sacred places.
Here is my personal list of the most beautiful churches in Davao:
San Pedro Cathedral
San Pedro corner C.M. recto Streets
San Pedro Cathedral is the city’s oldest church. The earlier church, said to be where the right chapel stands today, was built in 1847 using nipa and bamboo. It was rebuilt wood in the early 1900s by Architect Ramon Basa and new, bigger church designed mimic an arc or vinta was designed by Architect Manuel Chiew in 1964.
The interior ceiling design seems to direct the eye to the arched backdrop at the chancel that holds the gilded altar.
Here’s a trivia about the cathedral. By some miracle, the cathedral honoring the patron saint of the city was spared from devastation during the great fire decades ago.
Sta. Ana Church
Sta. Ana Avenue
I grew up to the church’s concrete structure painted in pastel shade of blue and white, the façade’s wall punched with star details with the image of Santa Ana framed in white vine wall detailing set above the main entrance. The parish office and store at the rear were built in wood.
Today, Sta. Ana Parish is clad in beige bricks. The façade bears no resemblance of its past design and interior today dons the shades of ochre and wood.
The altar’s design is grander and eye-catching story-telling murals decorate the abutments on the nave area. It’s a fabulous addition to the original stained glass windows that trim the doorways and windows of the side alleys.
The air-conditioning is a very welcome addition. I wish they preserved the original design of the façade though.
Trivia: It’s a bride’s dream to walk on a long church aisle on her wedding day. Lucky are the women who belong to the Sta. Ana Parish.
Chapel of the Carmelite Monastery
J.P. Laurel Avenue, Lanang
Linked to the monastery, the Carmelite Chapel was designed by Architect Basa. The design is a smaller version of grand churches that follows the plan of Early Christian Churches.
I personally like the height of the vaulted ceiling, the choir loft above the narthex, and the stained glass windows of the pointed arches set high above the doors surrounding the chapel that allows natural light to stream through in a dramatic way.
St. Francis of Assisi Parish
Don Julian Rodriguez Avenue cor. Carlos P. Garcia Highway (Diversion Road), Maa
Two features highlight this church. First, the broad stained glass window that dominates the upper part of the chancel, and second, the open garden that serve as its backdrop.
Daytime brings out the best in this church as the light shows the beauty of the stained glass windows that surround the church. Of course, the central artwork is the largest so everyone’s attention will always be focused at the altar during mass.
What’s on your list of Davao’s beautiful churches?
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Also published at the SunStar Davao newspaper.