Get Directions →
Basilica de San Martin de Tours is a Minor Basilica in the town of Taal, Batangas in the Philippines, within the Archdiocese of Lipa. It is considered to be the largest church in the Philippines and in Asia, standing 96 metres (315 ft) long and 45 metres (148 ft) wide. St. Martin of Tours is the patron saint of Taal, whose fiesta is celebrated every November 11.
The town was founded by the Augustinian missionaries near the shores of Taal Lake in present day San Nicolas, Batangas in 1572. Three years after in 1575, construction of the church was started by Father Diego Espinar (O.S.A.) with Saint Martin of Tours as patron saint. It was then rebuilt in 1642 using stronger materials. In 1754, the church was destroyed along with the town of Taal in the largest eruption of the Taal volcano. It was then that the town and church were transferred further away from the volcano to its present site, atop an elevated hill facing Balayan Bay. The ruins of the previous church can still be seen in San Nicolas.
Father Martin Aguirre donated the land and began the construction of the new church in 1755. It was continued by Fr. Gabriel Rodriguez in 1777 and by Fr. Jose Vitoria in 1782. Fr. Ramon del Marco decorated the church, built the convent and paved the “processional” road with bricks around the atrium of the parochial building. This church was damaged by the strong earthquake of September 16, 1852, which is centered near Taal Volcano, but no eruption from the volcano was recorded.
Construction of the present church was begun in 1856 by Fr. Marcos Anton with Spanish architect Luciano Oliver commissioned to design and manage the construction of the new church. Although it was unfinished, it was inaugurated in 1865. This huge church was completed by Fr. Agapito Aparicio in 1878, adding the main altar of Doric style measuring 24 metres (79 ft) high and 10 metres (33 ft) wide. He was also responsible for the baptistery made with tiles imported from Europe. A small tower on the left side of the facade contained the large church bell, which in 1942, was destroyed by an earthquake. It was reconstructed later, but its appearance did not match the church. The church was then restored in 1953 in preparation for the Canonical Coronation of the Our Lady of Caysasay. In 2011 upon the assignment of Msgr. Alfredo Madlangbayan, the Basilica underwent a massive restoration , sections the church interior was restored to its original trompe l’oeil cealings, the tower was restored original with its new set of carillon bells. The restoration was completed in November of 2011.
In December 8, 1954, the church was relegated into a Minor Basilica, the third in the country to be given such honor. The church was again restored in 1972 by the Taal Quadricentennial Council for the 400th anniversary of the town’s establishment. By Presidential Decree No. 375 on January 16, 1974, the church was declared a National Shrine. The damaged belfry was later restored in 1990 under the supervision of the National Historical Institute.
Another important feature of Taal Basilica is its bell which is considered as one of the largest bell in the country. This massive instrument is 19 feet (5.8 m) in circumference at the lip, 9.33 feet (2.84 m) around the crown and 6.42 feet (1.96 m) in height. During the earthquake of 1942, the belfry collapsed and the bell fell from its location damaging and silencing it. The king of the bell, as it was previously known, is now hanging silently in its previous place on the restored dome. – wikipedia.org