“What are you looking at?” A friend of mine tapped my shoulder as I raised my camera to capture in the frame one of the buttresses. While everyone else went straight to the nave of the church to see its interiors, I stayed outside and stood before its walls.
“The face,” I replied while pointing at the pillar.
“What face?” he said, confused.
I then took a shot and showed it to him using my camera. It was clearer when seen from afar or when the image is condensed smaller. “They say it’s an image of Padre Pio,” I told him. He let out a whoa that was half in shock and half in confusion. Next to the church is the museum and on one of its walls, another image is noticeable, albeit not as apparent as the first.
The Baclayon Church, formally known as the Church of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception in Baclayon, is said to be the oldest church in Bohol and one of the oldest in the country. It was formally founded on November 17, 1596 by Fr. Juan de Torres and Fr. Gabriel Sanchez of the Jesuit order. But it was in 1727 that the building we see today was built by around 200 forced laborers. Its walls and pillars were made of coral stones.
Although Jesuit-built, the Augustinian Recollects installed a more modern facade in the 19th century. They also added a few buildings around the area surrounding it. Just beside the church is a convent. We decided to go inside the convent first before entering the church to get ahead of and avoid the other tourists at the time.
Inside it is a small museum with religious artifacts and other antique items on display. Some of the interesting artifacts inside are the statue of Christ made of ivory and a statur of Virgin Mary. You can also find cuadro paintings by Liberato Gatchalian, a Filipino painter. There were also centuries-old gold ecclesiastical vestments and librettos. I’m sorry I have no pictures of these items as picture-taking wasn’t allowed.
Aside from the church’s history, one interesting thing about this church is the mysterious image of the face of a man on one of its pillars. Some say this is an image if Padre Pio of Pietrelcina. Padre Pio was a Capuchin priest from Italy and in Catholic Church, is venerated as a saint. They say that his image just mysteriously appeared on one of the pillars of the Baclayon Church. The connection between an Italian saint and Bohol is still unclear to me but it sure makes this place more interesting.
How to get to Baclayon Church: From the Dau Bus Terminal in Tagbilaran City, hop into a jeepney going to Baclayon. Ask the driver to drop you off at the church.
Note: The author does not necessarily believe in the miracles described in this post. Just sharing.