The heavens finally decided that it would go ahead with the pending storm predicted by PAGASA and let it pour just as we were heading towards our final destination of the walk; the San Beda Church in Mendiola.
The Abbey of Our Lady of Montserrat was totally unknown to me, being located inside the San Beda College. We were told by our walk leader that it was an awesome church worthy of the grandness of San Sebastian Minor Basilica. It must be quite something for it to even stand up side by side with Manila’s iron giant.
The church façade was almost nowhere to be seen as we passed the tree-lined avenue of Mendiola. Partly covered with old trees, I was unaware that we had already passed by the church until we took a turn and entered the abbey through a side door.
Similar to the San Sebastian church, it was also designed in the neo-gothic tradition by Swedish architect George Asp. Built in 1904 by the Benedictine Order, the church was dedicated to the Santo Nino de Praga or the Infant Jesus of Prague, the carved image (1903) of which can be found inside.
I thought the interior of the church was beautiful as we were ushered inside its darkened halls. But it seemed that it was only a preview of what was to come; I was totally blown away as the lights were turned on.
The church was more than beautiful, it was stunningly beautiful; totally exceeding my expectations.
Finely crafted bronze-colored angels line the chamber of the church, illuminating the painted ceiling. And this church’s ceiling is like no other I’ve seen.
The paintings done by Benedictine Father Lesmes Lopez and Brother Salvador Alberich were something I’d only seen in photos of European cathedrals. The Station of the Cross are rendered beautifully on the walls, and the vaulted ceiling is covered with classical styled images of impersonated allegories. The details of these paintings were so finely executed; it was almost like visiting a renaissance museum.
Another interesting feature of the abbey is its bronze entrance doors designed by Eduardo Castrillo who also did the People Power monument. Guarded by two life-sized angels, the dark church foyer is lit by colorful abstract lights of its arched doorways; quite a unique sight.
The abbey’s crowning glory though is its altar and retablo. Showered in gold trimmings, the elevated apse is guarded over by glowing solemn angels and surrounded by a profusion of biblical paintings done in the same style as those of the rest of the church. The vaulted pinnacle is just astounding.
The famous quote by German architect Ludwig Mies Van Der Rohe’s “God in the Details” cannot be more true with the Abbey of Our lady of Montserrat. My photos really don’t give it enough justice, please do yourselves a favor and visit it sometime.
The Abbey of Our Lady of Montserrat
638 Mendiola St. (San Beda College)
San Miguel, Manila