Pope Francis elevates Taytay Church in Rizal as minor basilica

February 1, 2024 - 10:12 AM
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The Saint John the Baptist Parish Church in Taytay, Rizal. (SJBP via CBCP News)

Pope Francis has declared a 16th-century church in the Diocese of Antipolo as a minor basilica, an honor only 23 churches have in the country.

The St. John the Baptist Parish Church in Rizal province’s Taytay town is the 41-year old diocese’s first minor basilica, described as another grace from God.

The diocese announced the Vatican decision on Monday, just three days after it celebrated the declaration of the International Shrine of Our Lady of Good Voyage in Antipolo City on January 26.

READ: Over 80 bishops grace declaration of Antipolo Cathedral as international shrine

“Truly, this elevation to Minor Basilica of the Parish Church of Saint John the Baptist is grace upon grace for us in the Diocese of Antipolo,” said Bishop Ruperto Santos.

“We acknowledge our responsibility that this minor basilica will always be a channel of God’s overflowing graces, a working instrument of charity to our people, and a welcoming home as we go on our Synodality,” he said.

The title is given to churches around the world in acknowledgment of their historical or cultural significance, artistic beauty, and importance in the life of the Church.

The designation also signifies a closer relationship with the pope. The title of major basilica is reserved to certain churches in Rome only.

According to the church’s historical marker, the edifice was constructed by Franciscan missionaries near Laguna Bay in 1579 and was initially made from light materials.

Due to frequent flooding in the area, the church was relocated to its present site in 1591, becoming the first stone church outside Manila.

The current, larger stone church was rebuilt in 1630.

In 1632, a strong typhoon destroyed the church’s roof. It was repaired under the Secular in 1768 and later under the Augustinian Recollects in 1864. During the Filipino-American War in 1899, the church suffered another setback when it was burned.

To accommodate the growing population during the early 1970s, the church underwent expansion.

At present, the church is administered by Fr. Pedrito Noel Rabonza III as parish priest, with Fr. Francis Edward Baasis and Fr. Aladin Alisbo Jr serving as parochial vicars.

On January 22, the Diocese of Cabanatuan announced the pope’s declaration of the National Shrine of La Virgen Divina Pastora in Gapan City as a minor basilica— the first in the entire province of Nueva Ecija.

READ: Pope Francis designates first minor basilica in Nueva Ecija

Pope Francis has granted the title of minor basilica to the National Shrine of La Virgen Divina Pastora in the northern city of Gapan, the oldest church in the Diocese of Cabanatuan.

The pope elevated the shrine to what is now the 22nd minor basilica in the Philippines. It is also the first in the entire province of Nueva Ecija, which has two ecclesial territories, including the Diocese of San Jose.