By Christina Hermoso
The historic Saints Peter and Paul Parish Church on Bantayan Island in Northern Cebu marked its 440th anniversary recently, making it one of the country’s oldest parish churches.
Built in 1580, a Holy Mass was held on June 3 to commemorate the event at the popular pilgrimage site and tourist attraction.
In a video message, Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma offered his prayer of thanksgiving “for the gifts the Lord has bestowed to the parish. I pray that the pandemic would bring people closer and stronger in faith. Together, let us believe that our faith founded on the apostles grow even stronger with difficulties,” he said.
The Saints Peter and Paul Parish is considered as the oldest parish in Visayas and Mindanao. The original church was built under Spanish rule and was used as a first stop for priests entering the country before being sent out to various parts of the Philippines.
The original church was destroyed in 1600 by Muslim rebels and several times by natural disasters and raids by Muslim rebels.
The current structure was built in 1839 and completed in 1863 using coral stones from the island. Upon completion, the church was dedicated to Saints Peter and Paul.
The church is a popular destination during the Holy Week.
The parish has produced a number of religious and priests including Archbishop John Du of Palo and retired Auxiliary Bishop Emilio Bataclan of Cebu.