Nuestra Señora de la Luz Parish (Loon)

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Tagbilaran North Road
Loon, Province of Bohol
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9.798509°N 123.793009°E

The Church of Our Lady of Light (Nuestra Señora de la Luz Parish) is the parish church of Loon, Bohol. The last church building built between 1855-1864 was the biggest church in Bohol before it was completely destroyed by the earthquake of October 15, 2013.

The parish of Loon was established by the Jesuits in 1753 under the curacy of Fray Manuel de Elizalde. The Jesuits built the first church along the shore in Barangay Napo. The Augustinian Recollects took charge of the town in 1768 following the expulsion of the Jesuits from the Spanish Empire. The first Recollects in Loon described the Jesuit-built church as a shed of wooden posts with a roof of nipa, in bad condition; the convent was not much better. They transferred the town center and church to its present location on a plateau about fifty meters or more above the shore level. A four-flight stairway of 174 stone steps built by the Recollects connects it to Napo, the former seat of the town; a watchtower near the topmost landing serves as lookout tower for pirates. The Recollects built a church c. 1812 that burned down in 1850s leaving just the front of the church. They began rebuilding the church in 1855. Wood to build the church was carried from the forest of Maitum by forced laborers, who had to beat their way through uncharted trails and across rivers.

What was one of the most beautiful of the 19th-century churches in Bohol was designed by Domingo Escondrillas, a government engineer. The church, made of finely cut coral, was completed in 1864. The structure was a basilica-style of one central nave with two aisles on the side, separated from the central nave by stout pillars of cut coral.

The building had two octagonal bell towers, and was fully symmetric. The central portion of the church facade surges forward giving it a dynamism more akin to Baroque than the Neoclassical style prevalent during this period. Delicately though inaccurately carved acanthus decorate the capitals of the twined columns of the facade. Between the twined columns are plaques incised with Biblical texts and dedicatory phrases. The facade’s balanced composition is completed by twin towers that flank it.

The church’s main altar filled the whole breadth of the sanctuary. Relief roundels portraying the life of the Virgin Mary flanked the main niche where an image of the patroness was displayed. Devotion to the Virgin under the title Our Lady of Light or Kasilak in Visayan traces to 18th century Palermo where the Virgin Mary appeared before a devout visionary. The church of Cainta in Rizal province serves as its counterpart on the north when it was founded in 1760. The convent, built at the same time as the church, was converted into a school.

Loon is some 27.5 km (17.1 mi) north-west of Tagbilaran City, along the route to Tubigon. Visitors can catch a bus to Tubigon from the Integrated Bus Terminal and ask the driver to let them out in Loon. –


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