San Pedro de Alcantara Church

The first community of Pakil was organized and founded by Fr. Pedro Bautista (later canonized as a saint, San Pedro Bautista) in 1588 and he designated a place for the church and plaza in Pakil. Back then, Pakil was a visita of Paete until 1676 when Fr. Francisco de Barajas was assigned as permanent minister and helped establish the first church under the patronage of San Pedro de Alcantara.

Although permission was obtained in 1684 to reserve tribute collected over five years for the construction of the church, the foundations were not dug until 1732, during the incumbency of Fr. Fernando Haro. The complex was burnt in 1739. Work on the complex continued until 1767. An additional storey was added to the bell tower in 1777. In 1840, Fr. Joaquin de Coria repaired the church. Because of a fire in 1851 which ravaged most of the town, Fr. Juan de Llanera repaired the church the following year. Fr. Juan de Dios de Villayos repaired the church roof and bell tower after it was damaged by an earthquake in 1881. The church was repaired in 1883 by Fr. Paulino Camba; damaged by the earthquake of 1937, it was repaired yet another time. During World War II, the church suffered damage and was repaired. The latest major repair was from 1980 – 84, when a storey of the bell tower was rebuilt.

The church mostly follows franciscan church designs built during the Spanish colonial period with a Corinthic-lonic styles. The order’s emblem can usually be found inscribed on the facade of the churches, in the bas reliefs inside the church or on the church bells. In Pakil and most of the churches built by the Franciscans, the church has a Cruciform layout with an adjacent convent built around an atrium.

Photo courtesy of Hyper|Photography

The main altar is painted in white and has a pantheon of 14 saints with the Archangel Michael towering above the others. Each icon is housed in an elaborately carved niche. There are two smaller altars at the sides of the main altar. Along the right side wall, there is a pulpit and a large painting depicting the concept of Heaven, Earth and Hell, Judicium Finale (“Final Judgement”). The painting was done by Jose Dans, a 19th century artist from the neighboring town of Paete, Laguna.

Right beside the painting is another altar with a life-sized figure of a crucified Christ. This figure is the one being placed inside the Santo Entierro during the Holy Week procession in Pakil. One of the stories that I heard about the crucified Christ is that no one knew who scuplted it.

Legend has it that a man who did it knocked on the door of the church or convent and asked if he can stay inside and in exchange he’ll carve up something for the church. As the story goes, the priest provide him with the wood and carving tools, then the man locked himself inside a room within the convent and told the priest that he is not to be disturbed. People would hear him working on the wood carving from inside the locked room. Then, on the seventh day everything in that locked room fell silent which led them to check on him. Upon opening the door, they saw the life-size image of the Crucified Christ but the man was no longer there.

Beside the Crucified Christ is an image of the Virgin Mary and Saint John the Evangelist. Other features inside the church are the old paintings depicting the stations of the cross and recent additions like the paintings located at the dome above the main altar.

The convent adjacent to the church houses the sacristy and also the newly built adoration room/chapel which features the original painting of the Blessed Virgin that was enshrined in the church.

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