The Our Lady of Light Parish Church in Loon was reopened on Tuesday with a Holy Mass celebrated inside the restored heritage structure for the first time after it was reduced to rubble by a 7.2-magnitude quake in 2013.
The over century-old church was turned over by the National Museum of the Philippines (NMP) to the Diocese of Tagbilaran led by Bishop Abet Uy during the eve of the feast of Loon’s patron, Our Lady of Light.
Uy, in a speech, expressed his gratitude to the National Heritage Council and NMP, which has been overseeing the restoration and reconstruction of heritage churches and other structures in Bohol that were toppled by the earthquake.
“Your priests and I promise to honor the commitment of the diocese of Tagbilaran to maintain and promote this sacred edifice as a temple worthy of our divine worship of the triune God and a true source of pride of place for all Boholanos,” Uy said.
NMP Director-General Jeremy Barns, who was among those who led the turnover ceremony, said the project has been “one of the milestones in the 120-year history of the NMP.”
National Historical Commission of the Philippines chairperson Rene Escalante called the church a masterpiece and “one of the most beautiful” restored churches in the country.
“I was really amazed how the restoration was done. I had a similar feeling also when we turned over the church of Dauis because I also consider this as masterpiece also as far as restoration is concerned, but this one is something really special,” said Escalante.
He attributed the success of the restoration to the effective partnership of the Catholic Church and the government, which has been funding the restoration of damaged cultural properties that dot the island province.
The turnover ceremony was attended by local officials including Vice Governor Rene Relampagos, first district Rep. Edgar Chatto, Provincial Board members, Loon Mayor Elvie Relampagos and various members of the clergy.
The Our Lady of Light of Parish was among the 19 heritage structures damaged by the 7.2-magnitude earthquake that hit Central Visayas on October 15, 2013.
The original stone structure was built between 1855 and 1864, but prior to that, there was already a church in the area but this was made of light materials.
The structure was rebuilt multiple times between the 1780s and the mid-1800s before the stone structure was erected.
“The building of the stone masonry church is the pinnacle of Recollect architecture in Bohol and resulted in one of the grandest churches in the Visayas; the Nuestra Señora de la Luz parish church,” the NMP said in a statement. (AD)