I was nursing a major hangover on the final date of my nine-day sojourn from Romblon to Naga, I think I drank too much during the previous night’s session. I was supposed to wake up early and explore the city, but as expected, I woke up quite late (with a headache to boot).
I arrived at the Naga Metropolitan Cathedral at almost 10am. The sun was already pressing hot to my skin as I raised my camera and took my first photograph of the day. The Bicol Mass was still ongoing as I took the time shooting the cathedral’s facade.
Officially called the Naga Metropolitan Cathedral of Saint John the Evangelist (quite a mouthful, locals simply refer to it as the Cathedral), this church is considered to be Bicol’s church of churches. Built during 1595, it is Our Lady of Peñafrancia’s final destination during the annual Peñafrancia Festival, which attracts droves of tourists and devotees alike. The image stays inside its premises for nine days of Novena.
The cathedral sits on a pretty large parcel of land. Included in its ground is the Holy Rosary Minor Seminary which is an attraction in itself. The red-bricked seminary, considered as the center of ecclesiastical study in the region, has been standing since 1785 and has been declared a National Historical Landmark in 1988.
The newest addition to the grounds is the Porta Mariae. A massive concrete arch 11 meters high and18 meters long, it was built to celebrate the people’s 300-year devotion to Our Lady of Peñafrancia.
Almost like a humbler version of Paris’ Arc de Triomphe, it features classical elements, but this time in all its unglorified concrete facade (I really hope that they don’t gloss this over with paint as it looks beautiful as it is). The arch has three portals, a huge center arch with the Cathedral neatly framed in its core, complimented by two smaller ones on each side. The colossal structure is capped by a statue of Our Lady of Peñafrancia heralded by two angels.
Before going inside the cathedral, I checked out a dome-shaped open structure in the middle of the church grounds. I’m not sure what this is called but its stained glass ceiling was exceedingly beautiful. It was a menagerie of Biblical scenes and colors; it was stunningly hypnotic.
Below the dome is what looks to be an altar table engraved with the Peñafrancia Festival celebration and the seal of its 300th anniversary.
Finally, throngs of devotees started coming out of the church, Mass was over.I was back at the cathedral’s fading white facade.
Built in the Baroque tradition, its front elevation sports two belfries. The spire from one of the belfry was already missing as I recall photographing it years back when it was still intact. Although the front of the church looks old, its main body looks quite new, being built of unpainted concrete.
Inside, graceful looking angels holding bowls of holy water guard the entrances. I hardly noticed the very light green paint on the walls since it was painted over with all sorts of three-dimensional-like decors (ala trompe l’oeil style). This gives the impression of intricate adornments, in contrast to its stark facade.
I finished my visit with a prayer and the requisite middle-of-the-aisle photo before heading to the next church in my list, Naga’s San Francisco Church.
Naga Metropolitan Cathedral
Address: Jacob Street
Naga City, Camarines Sur