What was a small, humble chapel on a hill is now a shrine flocked by devotees. Located at Sto. Tomas, Batangas, the shrine of Padre Pio is a circular church with no doors, making one feel that he can enter the church anytime. The saint being honored was born to Giuseppa and Grazio Forgione in Italy on May 25, 1887. He was ordained to the priesthood at the age of twenty-three. Padre Pio is likewise known as the stigmatized priest, the first of such priest in the history of the Church. The marks of the stigmata appeared on his body on September 20, 1918 while he was celebrating Mass and praying before the Crucifix.
Traveling next to Tanauan, Batangas, I was able to glimpse the majestic facade and interiors of Saint John the Evangelist Church, also known as Simbahan ng Tanauan. According to the church's marker, the first church was made of wood. It was only in 1732 that a stone church was constructed.
The church was transferred to its present location today when the whole town was buried in ashes brought about by the eruption of Taal Volcano in 1754.
The original itinerary was visiting only those tho churches in Batangas. Since it was still early in the afternoon, a third church was inserted, the Church of Our Lady of the Abandoned.
The site of the present church is the site of the first Franciscan mission established outside Manila in 1578. The cornerstone of the present church was laid on September 12, 1720 by the then Archbishop of Manila and Acting Governor General of the Philippines, Francisco dela Cuesta.
The group was fortunate to have met a Franciscan priest who was kind enough to have toured us around the premises. I was thus able to have paid homage to the Blessed Mother and glimpse the beautiful painting on the ceiling at the church's camarin. I likewise saw the church's convent and the beautiful garden at its center.
The priest also led the group to a well believed to contain healing water, and that just about capped my church visit for the day.