Pampanga is primarily known as a haven for gastronomic adventure, but it also cradles some of the country’s most historical heritage churches. Be sure to drop by in one of these churches in Pampanga and be awed not just by their history but their by their beauty as well.
Lubao Church: The biggest and oldest church in Pampanga
Don’t miss the chance to see the oldest and the biggest church in Pampanga. The San Agustin Church, more popularly known as the Lubao Church is a Neo-classic brick church that was built around the 17th century. In 2013 it has been declared as an important cultural property by the National Museum of the Philippines. The Lubao church is located in Brgy. San Nicholas I in Lubao. The church is pretty well-known to any local so when in Lubao, just ask for directions on how to get to the church and you won’t have any trouble finding it.
Betis Church: The Sistine Chapel of the Philippines
Dubbed as ‘the Sistine Chapel of the Philippines’ because of its beautiful and intricately designed ceiling, St. James the Apostle Church, or locally known as the Betis church is one site you shouldn’t miss when visiting Pampanga. The Baroque style church has also been declared as a national culture treasure in 2001 and is a living proof of the unique artistry of Betis craftsmen. Don’t be misled by its old looking exterior because what awaits inside the church is one gorgeous surprise you shouldn’t miss.
Bacolor Church: The Half-Buried Church
The Bacolor Church has survived so many catastrophes in the past. It has been damaged by 2 earthquakes and a fire before it was rebuilt in the year 1886. But even the devastating lahar flow from Mt. Pinatubo’s eruption in 1991 that buried the church almost half of its original height could not completely tear it down. What’s left of San Guillermo Church is an eerie but charming remnant that’s truly one of a kind.
Founded in the year 1726, the heritage baroque church is under the jurisdiction on the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of San Fernando and is considered the oldest parish in Pampanga. The church cradles the first class and Holy Relic of Saint Rita de Cascia which is said to be from the flesh ‘’ex carne’ of the Saint. The relic is part of the final batch that were extracted from the incorrupt body of Saint Rita de Cascia.
The Metropolitan Cathedral of San Fernando
The seat of the Archdiocese of San Fernando was also formerly known as Cathedral of Our Lady of the Assumption. The church is also a Neo-classic church that was founded in 1754. The church was burnt twice in the past – in 1899 and in 1939. It was rebuilt completely in 1948 and since then have gone a major restoration in 2014. The cathedral stands tall with its big dome that can be seen in almost all areas when in the town center of San Fernando. A few meters away from it is the heritage street where you can also witness a line of historical heritage houses in San Fernando.
Holy Rosary Church: Pisamban Maragul of Angeles City
Standing in the heart of Angeles City’s heritage district is one of the most iconic landmarks of the city known as the ‘pisamban maragul’ (big church). According to history, the bells of the church were first rung in the year 1896 but was believed to be fully completed in 1909. As sturdy as its exterior is a rich history behind it. After it was turned over to local priests, it was seized and converted into a U.S Army hospital and barracks. But in 1904 was returned as a church. It was also briefly used as a garage and stable by the Japanese forces. Today, it is arguably one of the most photographed, most known landmark and symbol of Angeles City’s colorful heritage and history.
The Minalin Church: Santa Monica Parish Church
The Minalin Church is one of the 37 churches in the Philippines that was declared as a National Cultural Treasure by the National Commission for Culture and the Arts and the National Museum of the Philippines in 2011. This Baroque style church was founded in 1614 and is located in the town of San Nicolas, Minalin. It was originally intended to be built in Brgy. Sta Maria however the materials (wood) used for its construction were carried by flood to its current location today. Legend has it that the name of the town was also derived from this occurrence, ‘minalis la ding dutung, minalis ya ing pisamban’ which translates to ‘the lumber moved so must the church’.
Magalang Church: San Bartolome Church
Not much information can be found about this Baroque church, but it is believed to have been built around the year 1725 by the Augustinians. It was transferred to San Bartolome only to be destroyed by flood in 1863. It was then relocated back to its current location which is in San Pedro. The facade of the church has been kept intact and is still its original design.
Florida Blanca Church: San Jose Obrero Parish Church
The Florida Blanca church is one of the Neo-Gothic churches in Pampanga. It is located in Poblacion, Floridablanca. The church was built in 1887 but was damaged by bombing during the World War II in 1945, leaving nothing but its walls. It was then rebuilt in 1967.
Saint Catherine of Alexandria Parish Church
According to records, the church has been built around the 18th century. Damaged by several earthquakes, the church has been renovated several times since it was built. The original materials used have been changed overtime and in the 1980’s, the church was torn down again to expand its space into its current floor area today.
Saint Michael the Archangel Parish Church in Masantol, Pampanga
The construction of the church started in 194 and was completed in the year 1901 under the term of Archbishop Bernardino Nozaleda. However, the entire church complex was renovated and reinforced using cement and steel in the 80’s. It looks modern compared to other heritage churches. Nevertheless, it belongs to the historical churches that tourists and even locals shouldn’t miss.
There are other historical churches in Pampanga worth visiting not only during holy week but even on regular days as well. Be sure to drop by and visit one of them when you are in Pampanga.