Wednesday, August 27, 2008

What Makes the Liloan Church unique?

The San Fernando Rey Church in Liloan, Cebu is only one of the many churches in the whole province. Yet, it is one of the most intriguing and unique among all of them. What exactly does the church have that makes it unique?

History and Name

The church was built in 1847, two years after the formal creation of Liloan as a parish. It was named after Saint Ferdinand III, a King of Castile and Leon in Spain. Ferdinand III is credited for much of the recapture of Spain from the Moors, a conquest in which Ferdinand III spent most of his time as king.


Perhaps the most puzzling feature of this church is its orientation. Its back is facing the sea, while the front door is built facing the mountains. If you look carefully at as much churches as possible in the Philippines (the Sto. Tomas de Villanueva and Basilica del Santo NiƱo in Pardo and city proper, respectively, are examples), you'll find that most Catholic churches built during the Spanish era are built facing the sea but yet San Fernando Rey is built differently.

There are many theories put forth about the orientation of the church, yet none of them has been proven or has been accepted as official explanation. One of the widely known theories -- and the most plausible -- is that the church's designers may have intended that to shield people from the glare and heat of the rising sun during morning services.

We may never know the reason behind this, but this is what makes San Fernando Rey interesting.


Another interesting feature of the church is its size. By the time of its construction, Liloan had significantly lesser population than Mandaue, of which it used to be part of. Yet, the San Fernando Rey Church was built to be bigger than the church of that city. Curiously, these days, more than a hundred years since its construction, the church still has a lot of space for the faithful even though Liloan's population has grown exponentially after a century. Because of this, some people consider the builders and designers of San Fernando Rey Church as having extraordinary vision and foresight.


The San Fernando Rey church is the subject of many local myths, myths which have been passed down from older generations and still survive to these days. More about these in a later blog.

~ Immortalundead

1 comment:

Mike said...

The designer of the church in Liloan is viewed by some as visionary. Despite Liloan having only 5,000 citizens when the church was constructed in 1847, this local church was even larger than that of Mandaue, Cebu's second largest city. Today, 159 years, more than 30 priests, 50 mayors, and some 47,000 people later, the church still has enough room to accommodate the faithful.

One unusual detail about the Church in Liloan is that it faces the mountains to the West, whereas most churches face the sea to the East. Some have theorized that this is because Mass is often performed in the morning, and the church is thus shielded from the morning sun, making it less hot and uncomfortable. Others have speculated that the church's direction has a symbolic significance related to church rites.,_Cebu