The newly rehabilitated Baclayon Church which was left in ruins by the 7.2-magnitude earthquake that jolted Bohol in 2013 was formally turned over to the Diocese of Tagbilaran with a high-ranking Vatican official as guest of honor during ceremonies on Tuesday morning.
Apostolic Nuncio to the Philippines Archbishop Gabriele Caccia who arrived in Bohol yesterday led the Holy Mass celebrated inside the reopened Immaculate Conception Parish Church as part of the turnover rites.
Prior to the Mass, National Historical Commission of the Philippines chair Rene Escalante, Executive Director Ludovico Badoy, Diocese of Tagbilaran Bishop Abet Uy and Parish priest Fr. Nilo Batausa signed a certificate of completion signifying the official turnover.
Cabinet Secretary Leoncio Evasco, a former priest who was briefly assigned at the church during the early 1970s, and other government officials including Gov. Edgar Chatto and Congressman Art Yap also attended the event.
The Baclayon Church was built in 1596.
It was declared a National Cultural Treasure by the National Museum of the Philippines and a National Historical Landmark by the NHCP.
In 1993, the centuries-old structure was included in the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization’s (UNESCO) World Heritage Tentative List of the Philippines.
The church was restored in 2017 after it was toppled by a strong quake in 2013.
Immediately after the devastating tremor, the national museum was tasked to assess the damages to the structure and oversee its rehabilitation. (rt)