THE Philippines now has a total of 25 national shrines after the San Antonio de Padua Church in Pila, Laguna received its formal declaration earlier in the week.
In a report by CBCP News, the centuries-old and Asia’s first Antonine church has been elevated to a “national shrine” status on Tuesday, April 23.
“A longtime tourist attraction and pilgrimage site, the San Antonio de Padua Church becomes the San Pablo Diocese’s first national shrine and the 25th in the Philippines,” noted the official news agency of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP).
The solemn declaration was held during a mass presided over by CBCP President Archbishop Romulo Valles, with San Pablo Bishop Buenaventura Famadico serving as the homilist.
Notably in attendance were Papal Nuncio Archbishop Gabrielle Caccia, Capiz Archbishop Jose Advincula, Pasig Bishop Mylo Hubert Vergara, and Lucena Bishop Mel Rey Uy.
More than 2,000 priests, nuns, government officials, and lay people also attended the historic event.
It was just last January when the CBCP Plenary Assembly “unanimously” approved the petition to elevate the church to the rank of a national shrine.
Originally made of hardwood and bamboo, the church was inaugurated in 1581 in its first site in Pagalangan.
In 1599, the construction of the stone church started but was only completed in 1617.
Due to consistent flooding in Pagalangan, the governor general ordered the transfer of the church to the Hacienda Santa Clara, now known as Pila town, in November 1794.
And as locals wanted to rebuild the church to its original design and structure, they decided to come together to carry and transfer every brick and stone from the church in Pagalangan to Pila in 1804.
The transfer of the church was completed only on 1816.
In May 2000, the National Historical Institute proclaimed the San Antonio de Padua Church and the town of Pila as a “national historical landmark.”
The church was elevated as the Diocesan Shrine of San Antonio de Padua in 2002. (HDT/SunStar Philippines)