Sunday, July 13, 2008

*92: Pampanga's Churches: SAN LUIS GONZAGA, SAN LUIS

PISAMBAN SAN LUIS. The age-old stone church dedicated to the town patron San Aloysius Gonzaga is one of the few churches in Pampanga that has retained its air of antiquity through the years. Picture shows a Holy Communion group picture, ca. 1918.

San Luis town was originally called Cabagsa or Cabagsac, a contraction of “cabag” (fruit bats) and “bagsac”, hence a place where fruit bats come to roost. To honor the memory of one of its cura, Fray Nicolas de Orduno, it was later known as San Nicolas de Cabagsa. The eventual name—San Luis—is attributed to Dna. Luisa, wife of a lawyer who acted as a counsel in claiming a parcel of land disputed by neighboring Santa Ana (then Pinpin) town. The town was named after San Luis Gonzaga (St. Aloysius Gonzaga, 1568-1591), the blue-blooded Jesuit saint who died young at age 23. The town fiesta is celebrated on June 19.

The first recorded missionary to serve the town was Fr. Jose Echevarria, who was assigned as a prior in 1742. No information exists as to when the church was built, but it must have been completed in the late 18th century. In 1883, the church was restored by Fr. Isidro Bernardo, which then had the following dimensions: 56 meters long, 13 meters wide and 11 meters high. The church convent was expanded by Fr. Francisco Diaz in 1877. Today, San Luis Church is one of the few churches in the province that retains its old-world authenticity, even after assiduous restorations, one as recent as 1984 done on the retablo mayor, undertaken by Fr. Jacobo David.

The façade is heavily stone-laden, with spiraling stone buttresses and symmetrical twin belfries with marked Baroque influences. The historian Mariano A. Henson recorded the existence of 4 bells, inscribed with the names of Nstra. Snra, de la Correa (dated 1859), San Juan Evangelista (dated 1789) and San Jose (dated 1843). The fourth bell dates from June 1939.

The main portal is carved and recessed. Sandwiching the papal insignia are two niches with small statues. The heaviness of the carving continues on the stone balusters that decorate the central window, the arched niches on each side of the bell towers. The pediment is encompassed by scroll-like designs on both sides, while the arched window panels served to decorate the façade.

Behind the church, remnants of tombs can still be found, some still with marble lapidas. Then, as now, the ancient, massive presence of San Luis Church continues to hold sway, even if the trappings of modernity are just a few steps away from its door.


(*NOTE: Feature titles with asterisks represent other writings of the author that appeared in other publications and are not included in the original book, "Views from the Pampang & Other Scenes")

13 comments:

Celle said...

Greetings po.

My group has scheduled pilgrimage to Pampanga churches on Nov 21. Would it be possible to get mass schedule at San Luis? or could we request for a special mass sched in the morning? there are 8-10 of us. thanks po.

alex r. castro said...

Hi Celle, Best if you could contact the parish itself. I am based in Makati so I realy don't have a way of knowing.

g'aquarian said...

Very nice feature, sir. I'm from San Luis and I can attest that the church there is really a work of art - product of hard work..

I wish that you publish topics about Christmas in Pampanga, since Pampanga is said to be the Christmas capital.

Many thanks and more power to you.

alex r. castro said...

Thank you for your kind words and your suggestion for a Christmas feature. I think I have a couple already in here if you review the past articles: "Blast from New Year's Past", "Panunuluyan: A Christmas Drama", "Pasku Na Naman" and "The Glow of Pampanga's Christmas Past". Salamat also for following my blog.

Anonymous said...

Kudos Alex for such a fantastic blog. I really like the feature abt San Luis being a Luiseno myself. We lost a lot of memorabilias when we left our ancestral house in 1 Sto. Tomas. I only have a rich history relayed to me by my ancestors. Hope we can have a project together to write a book about my hometown. Thanks again for keeping this treasures alive!

alex r. castro said...

Thanks for your kind words. The first and only time I went to San Luis (and that was about a year or so ago), I fell in love with your town. I spent hours in the church and soaking up the local colors. The best time to write about your beloved hometown is now--when memories are still vivid and resources are still available. It took 4 long years to finish my local town history (Mabalacat), but I did it!! You can too, so
good luck on this endeavor!

ADO said...

town feast day is june 21.

ADO said...

san luis town fiesta is june 19, not april 25.

alex r. castro said...

Oops. Corrected.

Anonymous said...

June 21 is St. Aloysius' feast day

Anonymous said...

hi...i'm aloysius galang salas..from san roque, san luis, pampanga..proud to be "luisiano"

Unknown said...

Ano po vission and mission ng simbahan?salamat

Unknown said...

sir taga san luis po ako yung town fiesta po is june 21,at sabay po ginagawa ngayon yung celebration ng town fiesta at bday ni luis taruc