Sunday, March 17, 2013

Binondo Church: Minor Basilica of St. Lorenzo Ruiz

Wazzup Pilipinas !
It would be my first time to visit the Binondo church in Manila. I had the opportunity to pass the church  but I never went inside to appreciate its inner beauty. I was there in Binondo to buy some "hopia" from Eng Bee Tin, so I took a few minutes of my time to take a peek inside, pray and make a wish. They say your wishes come true when you make the wish at a church that you visited for the first time, so I tried my luck that day and hoping that beliefs like those could take some effect on my life even for a small percentage.

Binondo Church, also known as Minor Basilica of St. Lorenzo Ruiz, is located in the District of Binondo, Manila fronting Plaza Calderón de La Barca, in the Philippines. It is located in Manila’s Chinatown at the western end of Ongpin Street, Binondo.

This church was founded by Dominican priests in 1596 to serve their Chinese converts to Christianity. The original building was destroyed by a bombardment by the British in 1762 during their brief occupation of Manila at that time.

Signages like these sort of destroys the authenticity of the historical structure. But its better than none since its a donation from a private company who could also be benefiting from the publicity. Both parties obviously got something from the deal.

The current granite church was completed on the same site in 1852 and features an octagonal bell tower which suggests the Chinese culture of the parishioners.

Saint Lorenzo Ruiz served at the convent of Binondo church as an altar boy. After a few years he earned the title of escribano and soon became a member of the Confraternity of the Holy Rosary. He was working as a clerk at the Binondo Church when he was falsely accused of killing a Spaniard in 1636. He sought asylum on board a ship with three Dominican priests. The boat landed at Okinawa and the group was arrested on basis of their Christian religion. They were tortured, but they did not denounce their faith and died as martyrs. 

Lorenzo Ruiz was beatified in Manila on Feb.18, 1981 by Pope John Paul II. He was canonized on Oct. 18, 1987. 

Binondo Church was greatly damaged during the Second World War, although fortunately the western facade and the octagonal bell tower survived.

Do we have a souvenir shop dedicated to St. Lorenzo Ruiz? I know that it’s the shrine of San Lorenzo even though his relic is somewhere under the sea in Okinawa. Honestly, people barely know that it’s the shrine of our one and only saint. We need to be like Avila, Spain–they don’t have the body of St. Teresa but they have souvenir shops to espouse the devotion.

Even in New York, St. Elizabeth Seton’s relic is in Maryland, but because she used to live in downtown Manhattan, there is a shrine and a souvenir shop/religious store for the aforementioned saint. I just hope we do the same.

Now this is an attractive sight to behold - a gate made out of a combination of stained glass and metal. Pretty impressive.

I prayed inside and made a wish. I actually made three wishes, but I did say that "He" can opt to give only one. That would be good enough for me.

The ceilings at both left and right areas are adorned with paintings depicting the different stations of the cross, while the middle part shows an image of the ascension of Jesus Christ.

Churches would always be a part of the lives of Filipinos. Most of us have faith towards a greater being that looks after us with great compassion. Our prayers were meant to keep us on track for the greater good and to keep us away from sinful desires. However, we should lift every muscle if we wish to really see the fruits of our labor.

We just need to remember that the creator we call God does not reside on the churches alone. He is everywhere, and anywhere even if we think he has forsaken us. He just gives us challenges to make us stronger and determined.

The churches will serve as a constant reminder for us ,and will forever be part of our history.

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