Information about Loon Church
The Nuestra Señora de la Luz Parish Church (also Our Lady of Light Parish Church), commonly known as Loon Church, was a Roman Catholic Church in the municipality of Loon, Bohol, Philippines, under the Roman Catholic Diocese of Tagbilaran. The parish was established by the Jesuits in 1753. Father Jose Garcia commissioned Domingo de Escondrillas to design the stone church (now in ruins) which was built from 1855 to 1864.
It was declared as a National Historical Landmark by the National Historical Commission of the Philippines and a National Cultural Treasure by the National Museum of the Philippines.
The entire church building and convent were reduced to rubble when a 7.2 magnitude earthquake struck Bohol and other parts of Central Visayas in October 15, 2013.
The Jesuits established the parish of Loon on June 22, 1753 under the patronage of the Our Lady of Light, locally known as Birhen sa Kasilak. It is believed that the first Jesuit church was located in the downtown area called Napo (formerly the town's center) along the sea. The center, including the church, was moved in the upper portion called Moto due to pirate raids. The church complex was built with defensive stone walls and armed with a cannonball in the 1770s. Moto and Napo were connected by a stairway called inang-angan (translated as chopped ladder) with 174 stone steps built under the term of Father Antonio Yus.The church and convent were rebuilt in the 1780s. Another church was rebuilt in 1815 but was destroyed by the fire of 1850 and 1853 (or 1854). Father Jose Garcia constructed another church, which he planned to be the "largest and finest in the Visayas", and commissioned Domingo de Escondrillas, Director of Public Works in Cebu to design the church. Construction of the church through forced labor started in 1855 and finished in 1864.When the Jesuits were expelled in the country in 1768, the Augustinian Recollects continued the evangelization of the town until 1898. The church was used as a garrison by American soldiers in 1901.Loon was the mother parish of the parishes of Sandingan, Catagbacan and Cabilao Island when the latter churches were canonically erected in 1961, 1988 and 1990 respectively.
Historical and cultural declarations
Loon Church was declared a National Cultural Treasure by the National Museum of the Philippines in 2010. The church was also declared as a National Historical Landmark in 2010 by the National Historical Commission of the Philippines.
The church forms a wide rectangular plan with an internal transept and a crossing surmounted by a quadrangular pyramid. At each side of the transept is a buttress. Unlike the churches of Loboc and Baclayon, it does not have a portico facade.
The façade is the only surviving part of the burned church in the 1850s. It has several inscriptions which includes:
Regina augusta Domina nostra Ysabel (August queen Our Lady Isabel) Domus mea domus orationis voca bitur (My house shall be called a house of prayer)Yn ea omnis qui petit, accipit; et qui querit, invenit, et pulsaniti aperietur (In all things, ask and it shall be given, seek and you shall find ask and it shall be opened unto you)Ynclito Duce Narciso a Claveria Vice Patrono (mixed Latin referring to Governor General Narciso Claveria)
Over the main door of the facade is another inscription which reads:
S. Maria Di Genitrix Virgo, O.P.N. (stands for Sancta Maria Dei Gentirix Virgo Ora Pro Nobis or Holy Mary, Virgin Mother of God, Pray for Us)
The statue on the facade is not the statue of the known patroness of Loon, the Nuestra Señora de la Luz(Our Lady of Light), but the image of the Nuestra Señora del Cetro (Our Lady of the Scepter), patroness of Loon according to records of Recollect historian Father Patricio Marcellan in 1879. It also has twin octagonal belltowers, the right tower has a clock installed in 1921 by Agustin Ayco. One of its bells is dedicated to the Nuestra Señora del Cetro, dated 1867.
Inside the church, the narthex with azulejos flooring has a ceiling painting known as "The Entry into Jerusalem". The baptistry and a wooden stairway to the choir loft and belltower is located on the left and right sides of the narthex respectively. Connecting the narthex and the nave is the pilasters in the arcade. Adorning the church are paintings on its ceiling and walls, and garlands and medallions on its arches and pillars. Traces of paintings of yellow flowers on a blue background are credited to folk artists while murals in the ceilings are by Ray Francia. One of Francia's works is the painting of "Finding of Jesus in the Temple" in the epistle transept.
Church Altars or Retablo
There are three neogothic retablos in Loon: one retablo-mayor and two side retablos in each side of the transept. Located in the sanctuary is the beautifully carved retablo-mayor which houses the image of the patroness, Nuestra Señora de la Luz in the central niche. Just like the image of the façade, the statue is not the usual icon of the Virgin Mary under this devotion but is nearer to the image of the Nuestra Señora del Cetro. The retablo, which forms like a baldachin, was designed with icons related to Mary including four bas-reliefs on Mary's Annunciation, Visitation, Nativity of Jesus and Presentation of Jesus at the Temple; icons from the Litany of Loreto such as the Spiritual Vessel, Mystical Rose, Tower of David and the Tower of Ivory; and symbols of the Four Evangelists.The gospel retablo (left side retablo) houses the image of St. Joseph and the Child Jesus and Saint Roch . On the epistle retablo (right side retablo) are niches that used to house the stolen image of Nuestra Señora de la Consolacion and the images of Saint Augustine and Saint Nicholas Tolentino.
Sacristies and Convento
On each side of the sanctuary are two separate sacristies. The left side sacristy is used as the parish office while the right side is a storage church for church paraphernalia. It is connected to the convent through apse leading to the upper gallery of the sacristy.The convent at the back of the church is now used as the building of a school, the Sacred Heart Academy. It was built from 1844 to 1846 under the term of Father Pedro Polo
The choir loft can be accessed through wooden stairs from the narthex. At the right side of the loft is a huge neglected pipe organ. The belltower can be accessed on either sides of the choir loft. It has six bells, all with unusual raised images of the saints to which the bell are dedicated and five of which are dated 1867.
Mortuary Chapel and Cemetery
An octagonal mortuary chapel built during the middle of the 19th century is located in front of the church. It is now being used as a meeting hall. On its right is a road linked to the old cemetery (Cementerio de Mamposteria) which is now the Municipal Nursery.
2013 Bohol earthquake
A strong earthquake hit Bohol island at 8:12 AM on October 15, 2013. The center of the M7.2 earthquake was near Sagbayan, Bohol. Centuries-old churches which were declared as National Cultural Treasures were damaged. They include the churches of Baclayon, Dauis, Dimiao, Loay, Loboc, Loon and Maribojoc. Major damage was observed at the churches of Maribojoc and Loon. Both churches were left in rubble, having been totally destroyed. Loon's church and convent totally collapsed. Plans to restore the destroyed churches, including Loon Church is currently undertaken by the Diocese of Tagbilaran.
Content is taken from Wikipedia