A "rare honor" for the Philippines: in the only Catholic majority nation in Asia, there are only 17 churches with this title. The place of worship dates back to 1590, is dedicated to San Pedro Bautista and is managed by the Franciscans. The ceremony will take place by the end of the year, but there is still no certain date due to the ongoing pandemic.
Manila (AsiaNews) - The Philippine Church is celebrating Pope Francis' decision to declare the oldest church in Quezon City, in the metropolitan area of Manila, the political, economic, social and cultural heart of the country, as a minor basilica.
It is a "rare honor" for Catholics in the archipelago, considering that in the only Catholic majority nation on the Asian continent and with over 100 million inhabitants, there are only 17 churches that can boast such a title.
According to the website of the Philippine Episcopal Conference CBPCNews, the diocese of Cubao reported the news yesterday evening. The Holy See, a note explains, "gave the sanctuary of San Pedro Bautista, run by the Franciscans, the title and dignity of a minor basilica". The oldest church in Quezon joins the only basilica that already exists in the diocese, the national sanctuary of Our Lady of Mount Carmel.
The minor basilicas can boast the title because of their antiquity, for the dignity they have in the eyes of the faithful, for the historical, architectural or artistic value, for the high value and meaning as a place of worship. The conferment of the title marks the particular link that unites the new basilica with the Argentine pontiff, who in January 2015 made an apostolic journey to the Asian country.
Some papal symbols, which seal this special relationship, will be installed and blessed during the solemn celebration that will mark the appellation of basilica. The ceremony is scheduled for the end of the year, but there is still no certain date due to the new coronavirus pandemic taking place and which has led to the closure of the places of worship and the blocking of the celebrations, which have now started again in a minor tone.
The sanctuary of San Pedro Bautista dates back to 1590 and is among the oldest in the country. The area where the church stands is the same where the patron saint, San Pedro Bautista, lived when he was assigned on a mission to the Philippines. He was a Franciscan religious and late theologian who served for 10 years before being sent to Japan where he died as a martyr.