Friday, October 5, 2012

Declaration of Sto. Domingo Church, Quezon City, as a National Historical Treasure on October 4, 2012

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The Philippine Daily Inquirer's October 1, 2012 article Santo Domingo Church, La Naval de Manila shrine to be declared National Cultural Treasure summarizes the artistic treasures to be found in this great church: 

Showcase of great architecture, great art 
Measuring 85 meters in length, 40 meters in width and 25 meters in height, with a total floor area of 3,300 sq m, Santo Domingo Church is the biggest in Metro Manila and one of the biggest churches in Asia. 

The massive church is a unique blend of Spanish colonial and modern architecture. 

It was designed by José Ma. Zaragoza, who was still a student of architecture at UST when the Dominicans commissioned him to design the church. 

Unlike the huge Baroque churches of the Hispanic period, the Santo Domingo is modern. But it follows the Mission-style architecture—with shades of Romanesque and Gothic designs—which welcomes more space. 

Aside from being an architectural jewel, the Santo Domingo Church houses artistic treasures. 

In the nave are eight colorful murals by National Artist Carlos “Botong” Francisco depicting the life and times of Santo Domingo de Guzman, the Spaniard who founded the Order of Preachers, whose members are now called Dominicans. Legend has it that it is to Saint Dominic that Our Lady gave the Rosary for the Dominicans to promote. 

Francisco’s murals are just below the equally brilliant murals of the Four Evangelists in vivid brown tones by Vicente Garcia Llamas. 

Meanwhile, arched windows of the church frame masterful stained-glass designs by Galo Ocampo. The windows depict the original 15 Stations of the Holy Rosary as well as the Battle of Lepanto and La Naval de Manila; and the martyrdoms of San Vicente Liem de la Paz and San Francisco Capillas, Dominican protomartyrs of Vietnam and China, respectively. 
Battles of La Naval 

Outside, on the façade, is the giant bas-relief of Santo Domingo by the Italian sculptor and expatriate Francesco Monti. On top of the portal of the church is another bas-relief by Monti, powerfully depicting the battles of La Naval.

Francisco, Llamas, Ocampo and Monti were faculty members at that time of the College of Architecture and Fine Arts of UST.

In the giant choir loft is the 76-year-old pipe organ made by Fr. Gregorio Hontomin, OP. It is undergoing restoration.

The panel of experts which had recommended the government declaration included architect and architecture historian Manuel Noche of the Heritage Conservation Society; engineer Orlando Abinion of the National Museum; and Fr. Milan Ted Torralba of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines–Permanent Committee for the Cultural Heritage of the Church
Sto. Domingo Church

Naturally, far surpassing of all these treasures, is the image of  Our Lady of the Holy Rosary, La Naval de Manila, one of the most revered Marian images of the Philippines, which has been enshrined in the Sto. Domingo Church since shortly after it was consecrated in 1954. 

Our Lady of the Holy Rosary - La Naval de Manila

Our Lady of the Rosary - La Naval de Manila deserves many blog posts of her own, something I desire to do in the following year. In the meantime, in addition to the official website of La Naval, I point the reader to the dormant but informative blogs, La Naval Chronicles and La Naval de Manila Online, as well as this delightful photo gallery of the La Naval procession in 2008. (There are many, many more photo galleries and articles about La Naval online.)

On a personal level, no other church has played as significant a role in my spiritual growth and the development of my "ecclesiastical consciousness", as Sto. Domingo. As a elementary / primary school student in Angelicum School (now Angelicum College) from 1988 to 1994, this church was where I attended countless Masses with my fellow classmates; this church was where my heart and mind first began to be opened to the beauty and depth of the Catholic faith as manifested not only in her doctrinal and moral teaching but also in her sacred art and ceremonies. It was in this church where I first received the Sacraments of Penance and Confirmation and where I received First Communion. To this very day I still seek spiritual refuge in this church in times of sadness and pain, and whenever I pass by it I always feel the irresistible urge to stop by and pray inside. I pray that this great church will last for centuries to come, unlike its predecessors in Intramuros (the Walled City of Old Manila), and that someday it will be given even greater honors (Basilica status - why not?).

PS: How fitting that this event, honoring a church dedicated to St. Dominic, occured on the day of the feast of St. Francis of Assisi!

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