"If faith can move a mountain, let the mountain moves."....
The above line is just one of the few lyrics from the Christian Song "Waiting here for you" which signifies huge amount of faith. And that was what I witnessed when I had my Bulacan tour last Saturday with some of new found blogger friends.
|It is like I was in a European Scene.|
The Our Lady of Lourdes Grotto in San Jose Del Monte, Bulacan is just among in what we say the fruit of great belief and faith. As per Librero of http://sanjosenyonggala.blogspot.com/, the worship complex was built in mid 1900s through a local of San Jose Del Monte who have battled and been healed from cancer. She constantly visited the Our Lourdes Grotto, the original one in France. Her faith was believe cured her from her sickness.
Now, the complex serve among the best pilgrimage site in the province. Pilgrims flock in the place mostly during holy week season. The spacious yard accomodate devotees and make it like a picnic ground.
Actually, this site is just one of the side trips in our Singkaban Festival trip since we'll be passing it, why not take a drop by.
Our meet up place was in Jollibee-Tungko. From the mentioned fast food, you must walk towards the jeepney waiting area. Jeepney trips interval is fast so don't worry, you don't have to wait for long. Make sure to tell the driver to unload you in the site. Just say, you'll be going in "Grotto". Fare is P8.
The main gain of the pilgrimage site.
As you enter the place, you will come to see displayed life-sized statues placed right on the ground and the other was placed on a pedestal like the Mary figure shown above.
The church was said a replica of the one Our Lady of Lourdes Grotto in France. As I checked it, though have a few differences, its really alike. Difference probably was the ramp going to the upper level. Evidently, the style has adapted a French-Gothic architecture style. From its pointed arch window and the presence of spires in the roof. There was also wheel window in the façade of the building. Trefoils were integrated too.
For a piece of trivia, the "church is beneath another church". Yes, there were two separate church. I never know anything like this anywhere else in the Philippines. Just this. But sadly, we only got the chance to enter at the lower room 'cause it is the only one open and there was on-going mass when we went there and the one above was closed that's why we failed to go inside. Said, the upper church has an awesome interior and way better than the one below.
If you would do comparison between the original and this replica, you would notice that the upper most, high steep pointed roof was not there. This is because the worship building was not really finished. Only the 4 spires in each corner was present. Even the interiors of the lower church was so simple. It was not meticulously done but a smooth plaster finished that was painted. The columns were plain square which supposedly accented with some mouldings, flute and bases. Anyhow, I understand it.
FYI, the church is currently run by Aglipayan Sect not by the catholic church. According to Librero, controversies occurred regarding on who should really be the administrator by this pilgrimage site. The catholic sect tried to run it under the diocese of Malolos but not until the heirs of the owner stopped the process of turning it from a private property into a total claim as catholic church building.
In my own point of view, the heirs should have donated it to the catholic church and make it a fully run church by the diocese. In that matter, improvement and development must have been done even finishing it might be possible. Absolutely, if that is so, it would be better worship place for the Roman Catholic religion.
Back to tour, just at the back of the church building is a larger area where you find more feature of the complex. One has to start on an amphitheatre-like place. Where a man made cavern-like structure was built. It serve as a another congregation place for pilgrims and was the place where most healing has took place. Found right there is the miraculous Grotto of Lourdes. The Mary figure was made from a marble stone and also a replica of one in France.
Canes, crutches and other orthopaedic support were left behind there by those who said received healing. I was truly astonished by this sightings.
Just right beside the Grotto, was the Holy Spring Water. There's a directional visual there, must have it followed. How fun that it looks like a toilet and bath due to the tile finish. When we said spring, you're expecting natural look. It has also lines of faucet and concrete tank. Anyways, said it was for more convenience of the devotees.
Moving ahead from the grotto, passed through the spring, there's this life-size station of the cross. Also, a huge rosary was built there. Though, we didn't try to pushed to see the stations, we saw how it was effortly made. The beads of the large rosary was as big as the basketball ball and the treads that connect the bead was a series of metal chains. While the cross, see the picture above, that was it. Huge huh?!
During weekend especially Sunday or when peak season while numbers of people visits the site, the vicinity become a center of commerce. At the side of the front yard of the complex which I believe still part of it, is a market place. Where you can dine and shop variety of goods. And sometimes, as related by our companion, wild species/animals like birds, snakes and even wild cats were on sale. Uurgghh!!! Redundant huh?!
And after that quick tour for less than an hour, about 10AM, we left the site and headed to the core town of San Jose Del Monte where we visited the Church of St. Joseph the worker and have our hefty lunch at Kubo sa Bayan. See links for the related posts.
The above picture is the true and Original Our Lady of Lourdes Grotto.
I featured this pilgrim complex not due to the same belief that the devotees have but for the pure sake of the beauty of architecture of the building. And also, to give an online info to those who are avid to pilgrim site and just to give them guide.