CEBU CITY, Philippines – Every Holy Week, thousands of Catholic faithful congregate in the town of Minglanilla to celebrate Easter.
The municipality’s Sugat Kabanhawan Festival, which depicts Christ’s resurrection and reuniting with His mother, the Virgin Mary, is definitely a feast for both the eyes, the ears, and the soul.
The Sugat Kabanhawan is held every dawn on Easter Sunday at the town gymnasium and at the heart of this religious highlight is no other than the centuries-old church, the Archdiocesan Shrine of the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
Built in 1886, the Archdiocesan Shrine of the Immaculate Heart of Mary is one of the few churches here in Cebu that feature Gothic elements.
The Gothic movement became the solution for builders and masons in the mid-12th century to the 16th century to allow natural light to flow inside for tall buildings.
They used pointed arches to support larger and wider windows to allow more sunlight.
Instead of thick walls, a characteristic common among Romanesque structures, Gothic ones have thinner walls. And to prevent the building from collapsing, designers create iconic flying buttresses as support.
It may not have flying buttresses that made Gothic architecture classy and legendary but the Minglanilla church is as transcendental as the sky-high Gothic churches.
The church itself stands proud atop an elevated portion of Ward III in Brgy. Poblacion, overlooking the town plaza and highway below. It also offers a panoramic view of the Cebu Strait. Meanwhile, its pointed, twin belfries can make every visitor train their sights upwards.
Aside from the pointed arches found on its facade, Gothic styles can be found in the interior of the Archdiocesan Shrine of the Immaculate Heart of Mary as well. Gothic cathedrals are notable for their ribbed vault and stained glass windows.
The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Cebu is currently the caretaker of the church. In 2007, the Archdiocese, then headed by the late Cardinal Ricardo Vidal, declared the former Parish Church of the Immaculate Heart of Mary as an archdiocesan shrine, ultimately recognizing its cultural and historical legacy. /rcg
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