Cebu archdiocese confirms NMP’s plan to return pulpit panels to Boljoon Church

May 23, 2024 - 11:15 AM
The National Museum of the Philippines (NMP) approves the return of the pulpit panels to the Boljoon Church in Cebu. (National Museum/Facebook)

The Archdiocese of Cebu has confirmed Wednesday that the four long-lost pulpit panels, currently in the custody of the National Museum of the Philippines, will soon be returned to the heritage church in Boljoon town.

This decision was reached during a meeting between Archbishop Jose Palma along with three other priests and NMP officials led by its director general Jeremy Barns.

“The pulpit panels will certainly be returned to Boljoon,” the archdiocese said in a statement.

Saying that the meeting was “very productive and constructive”, it said that these current efforts “will surely be advantageous to the valorization of the cultural heritage” of the archdiocese.

However, it said that the issue of ownership will be settled separately “due to pertinent technicalities that bind both parties.”

“NMP will go beyond the issue of the pulpit panels and expressed willingness to collaborate with the archdiocese when it comes to the conservation and restoration of the Boljoon heritage complex,” the statement added.

The compound covers, among others, the church, convent, museum, and school.

In February, Palma sought the return of the 19th-century wooden panels that had been donated to the NMP by private collectors.

He said the panels, which depict St. Augustine of Hippo, the founder of the Augustinian Order, were removed from the Archdiocesan Shrine of Patrocinio de Maria Santissima without permission.

On May 8, the NMP announced that it is returning the panels to the pulpit of Boljoon Church “subject to certain terms, which are envisaged to form part of a comprehensive agreement” between the agency and the archdiocese.

The NMP also said that this move supports the Boljoon Church as a National Cultural Treasure and a candidate for World Heritage Inscription.