CAMARINES SUR | Basilica Minore de Peñafrancia at Naga City

Friday, August 12, 2011

Basilica Minore de Peñafrancia Naga City

It seems everywhere I look; churches follow me at every corner I take in Naga City. Worship places seem to grow out of its streets like mushrooms on farm fields. The last one I was able to visit, not out of disinterest to the other ones, rather than due to lack of time, was the Basilica Minore de Peñafrancia or the Basilica, as the locals refer to it.

Basilica Minore de Peñafrancia Naga City

Construction of the church was started in 1976 due to the increasing numbers of devotees flocking Naga City. It was finished five years later, after much delay due to financing. It was lifted to a title of a Basilica Minore after a request to Rome by Leonardo Legazpi, the third Archbishop of Caceres in 1985.

The basilica appears as new as the year it was built. The lawn that surrounds it was as verdant as it can be and the walls of the church look fresh and clean. The architecture is simple and clean-cut, ornaments on the church is limited to trims and windows that pierce its walls.

Basilica Minore de Peñafrancia Naga City

The stained glass windows on this church are no ordinary ones though, massive and epic are the words that come to mind as I stood awestruck in front of them. The basilica has three major stained windows, one out front and two others on the north and south transepts. The colorful panes portray the fluvial festival of Peñafrancia as the people transfer the virgin from one church to the next.

The festival is an annual event celebrated on the third Saturday of September in Naga City since 1885. The story goes that during the Spanish occupation an official from Peñafrancia, Spain was granted a wish for his daughter to get well after praying to the Madonna of Peñafrancia. He then promised to build a chapel for the Virgin.

The festivities actually start before the actual feast day of Peñafrancia. Nine days before the event, the replica of Spain’s Madonna of Peñafrancia is transferred from the Basilica Minore to Naga Cathedral for days of Novenas. The Virgin is then paraded back to the Basilica on the night of the ninth day via the Naga River, as candles from the devotees light its way along the waterway.

Basilica Minore de Peñafrancia Naga City

The event is echoed at the church pavilion, located some meters away from the basilica, which (I’ve learned just now) serves as shelter of the Virgin after processions.

One can’t help but be overwhelmed as one steps inside the spaceship-like structure. Its circular ceiling, similar to Naga Cathedral’s pavilion is layered with colored glasses depicting the color of the festivities.

Basilica Minore de Peñafrancia Naga City

There were a couple of blank panels though, which obviously has to be replaced, but remains broken up to my last visit (it was already that way when I first photographed this place years back).

Another noteworthy feature of the church is its soaring belfry. Towering eight stories from the ground, it looks like a modern needle piercing the cobalt blue sky. It was actually the first thing that caught my attention as I entered the church grounds.

Basilica Minore de Peñafrancia Naga City

The Basilica Minore de Peñafrancia may not compete with the other churches in Naga (like the San Francisco Church) in terms of historical significance, as it is relatively new compared to its centuries old brethren, but it is still majestic in its own way. Clean modern design, massive architecture and colorful window panes all combine to create a graceful house of worship to compliment the city’s old ones; a worthy place to end my mini-Visita Iglesia in the City of Naga.

Basilica Minore de Peñafrancia Naga City


Basilica Minore de Peñafrancia
Address: Balatas Road
Naga City, Camarines Sur
Bicol Region

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  1. love love love the stained glass!

  2. Same feeling when I visited Cebu. Everywhere I go, kaliwa't kanan ang cathedral. Thank you for sharing these. I also love your stained glass shots. Very picturesque. You Naga series makes me wanna pack my bags and head straight to the bus station. Nakaka-adik! hihihi!

  3. hanep mga stained glass!

  4. hangganada! eto ang isa sa madameng church na na-miss ko sa Naga. ang galeng mung maghanap ng magandang anggulo.

  5. ang ganda ng stained glass .. parang yung mga nasa church sa ibang bansa :)

  6. Blissfulguro, Lestat, Event Lover
    Amazing artisans they have in Naga eh?

    Malditang "Kura"cha
    Haha talaga? Will be in Cebu in October =)

    Sayang naman di mo nabisita, balik ka na nga lang =)

  7. Ganda naman ng simbahan nato... :)
    Salamat sa Pag share..:)

    1. No problem Tripper, one of the must visit places in Naga City :)

  8. i also been here... unusual expi, lalo na pag nahawakan mo ang miraculous image of Ina.. :) :)