|Minor Basilica of Saint Martin of Tours|
Basilika ng Taal
Basílica Menor de San Martín de Tours
Façade of Taal Basilica
|Location||Calle Marcela M. Agoncillo, Poblacion Taal, Batangas|
|Dedication||Saint Martin of Tours|
|Heritage designation||National Historical Landmark|
|Architect(s)||Don Luciano Oliver|
|Architectural type||Church building|
|Length||88.6 metres (291 ft)|
|Width||48 metres (157 ft)|
|Archbishop||Most Rev. Gilbert Garcera, D.D.|
|Priest in charge||Rev. Msgr. Alfredo Madlangbayan|
The Taal Basilica, canonically known as the Minor Basilica of Saint Martin of Tours (Filipino: Basilika ni San Martin ng Tours; Spanish: Basílica Menor de San Martín de Tours), is a Minor Basilica in the town of Taal, Batangas in the Philippines, within the Archdiocese of Lipa. It is considered to be the largest church in the Philippines and in Asia, standing 88.6 metres (291 ft) long and 48 metres (157 ft) wide. St. Martin of Tours is the patron saint of Taal, whose fiesta is celebrated every November 11.
In 1575, 3 years after the founding of Taal town in its old site near the shores of Taal Lake, work began on the construction of its first church by Father Diego Espinar (O.S.A.) with Saint Martin of Tours as patron saint. The church was rebuilt in 1642 using stronger materials but in 1754, it was destroyed along with the town of Taal in the largest recorded eruption of Taal volcano. This event led to transfer of the town and the church farther away from the volcano to its present site atop an elevated hill facing Balayan Bay. The ruins of the previous church can still be seen in San Nicolas.
Father Martín Aguirre donated the land and began the construction of the new church in 1755. It was continued by Fr. Gabriel Rodriguez in 1777 and by Fr. Jose Victoria in 1782. Fr. Ramon del Marco decorated the church, built the convent and paved the "processional" road with bricks around the atrium of the parochial building. This church was damaged by a strong earthquake on September 16, 1852. The earthquake centered near Taal Volcano, though no volcanic eruption was recorded.
Construction of the present church began in 1856 by Fr. Marcos Antón with Spanish architect Luciano Oliver, commissioned to design and manage the construction of the new church. Although it was unfinished, it was inaugurated in 1865. The huge church was completed by Fr. Agapito Aparicio in 1878, adding the main altar of Doric style measuring 24 metres (79 ft) high and 10 metres (33 ft) wide. He was also responsible for the baptistery made with tiles imported from Europe. The stone church had three naves with a grand transept and an elegant facade with Ionic and Doric orders. A small tower on the left side of the facade contained the large church bell, which in 1942, was destroyed by an earthquake.
Minor Basilica and further renovations
The church was then restored in 1953 in preparation for the Canonical Coronation of the Our Lady of Caysasay. The following year on December 8, 1954, the church was declared as a Minor Basilica, the third in the country to be given such honor. The church was again restored in 1972 by the Taal Quadricentennial Council for the 400th anniversary of the town's establishment. By Presidential Decree No. 375 on January 16, 1974, the church was declared a National Shrine.
The old belfry was later rebuilt in 1990 under the supervision of the National Historical Institute. In 2011, upon the assignment of Msgr. Alfredo Madlangbayan, the Basilica underwent another renovation as sections the church interior were repainted to its original trompe l'oeil ceilings. The tower was also modified to imitate the old tower destroyed by the earthquake of 1942, a new set of carillon bells was later installed. The renovations was completed in November that same year.
In April 4, 2017, the Basilica was damaged by a 5.5 earthquake that struck Tingloy, Batangas. The Basilica was significantly damaged again caused by twin earthquakes (magnitudes 5.6 and 6.0) that struck the neighboring towns of Mabini and Taysan that occurred on April 8. The National Historical Commission of the Philippines is undertaking some precautionary measures in order to preserve the Basilica.
- Layug, Benjamin L. "A Tourist Guide to Notable Philippine Churches." Quezon City: New Day Publishers, 2007.
- Maso, Saderra (1904). "Volcanoes and Seismic Centers of the Philippine Archipelago", Dept. of Commerce and Labor, Washington.
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