A Visit to the Historical Basilica de San Martin de Tours


One day per year, I get to visit buildings that I truly adore: old churches. The architecture itself can make a trip to old churches very much worth it. My adoration for old churches stems from my father's insistence in keeping the Catholic Lenten tradition, Visita Iglesia, an unbreakable obligation.

Since we were spending our Holy Week in Tagaytay, my husband suggested that we should visit the churches in Taal, Batangas instead. Doing the Visita Iglesia in Tagaytay is a migraine-inducing process. Traffic's hell! 

Basilica de San Martin de Tours in Taal, Batangas is one of my favorite churches in this part of the world. It's been more than five years since we last visited the said church. Not only is the church considered the biggest in Asia, it also has the largest bell in our country.

The Basilica de San Martin de Tours is said to be one of the twelve basilicas in the country. The others are the Basilica of St Michael the Archangel, Basilica of Our Lady of Piat, Basilica of Our Lady of Pe├▒afrancia, Basilica of San Lorenzo Ruiz, Basilica of the Black Nazarene, Basilica of the Immaculate Conception, Basilica of St. Sebastian, Immaculate Conception Cathedral Basilica, Basilica of the Holy Child, Basilica of the Immaculate Conception, and Basilica of Our Lady of Charity.
A basilica is not a typical church. A church is upgraded to this status through either an immemorial custom or apostolic grant. The structure of a basilica is built in a different style compared to other churches. The structure should have high ceilings and three long aisles to be considered as such.

The construction of the present basilica started in 1755 and continued until 1878. The original church in Taal was built in 1575 at a different location. It was ruined by a massive volcanic eruption in 1754. This is the reason why the priests decided to have the church constructed in an elevated location.

The Basilica de San Martin de Tours is said to be built from very strong materials such as reef stone. The tiles were all imported from Europe. Upon completion, the basilica measured at 88.6 meters long and 48 meters wide. The nave {part where the pews are located} is 15.5 meters long while the copula {dome} is 44.5 meters high. It is declared a National Shrine via Presidential Decree in 1974

The structure - both inner and outer - is not only massive, but magnificent as well. The pictures will never do justice to the Basilica de San Martin de Tours' beauty. The ceiling murals are amazing. The colors that the light reflects varies, depending on the time of day. This is just a personal observation. The second time we went there was late in the afternoon and the ceiling bore the color orange. This time {high noon}, it was more of pale yellow and blue. 

The light beams shining {see it better via my Instagram photo} through the different parts of the church amplifies its glory. Probably because of the thick walls, the basilica has good acoustics.

Considering how poorly our cultural heritage is preserved here, I'm very pleased and quite surprised that the Basilica de San Martin de Tours is well maintained. We have so many treasures, we just really suck at taking care of them.

I don't know if they still use the ambo {pulpit} to read Gospels. Come to think of it, I have not yet seen a Gospel read from inside an ambo. I want to see one though. 


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