Betis Church: The Philippines’ Sistine Chapel

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by Edzelle Peña

GUAGUA, PAMPANGA – If you’re planning your Visita Iglesia for the Lenten Season, make sure to put Betis Church on the list.

Dubbed as the “Sistine Chapel of the Philippines”, Betis Church has well earned its prominence as one of the finest churches in the country.

Completed in 1770, this church boasts of its awe-inspiring 19th and 20th century paintings and murals on the walls and ceilings, which were crafted by acclaimed local and international artists. Some of which are  Simon Flores, Maximo Vicente and brothers, Martin and Severino Gozum Pangilinan. Scenes from the Bible, the Holy Family, saints and seraphs are depicted splendidly.

The church’s interior could very well pass for an art book such that every wall or corner constitutes a page. The architecture is Baroque-inspired – a design which was very predominant at the time of its construction. The antique carvings and religious frescoes are reminiscent of the great works of Italian Renaissance artists like Michelangelo, Giotto, and Masaccio.

Outside, sculptures could be found including the monuments of Santiago de Galicia, St. Joseph the Carpenter and the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Also in front of the church is the Betis Artesian Well known to be the oldest deep well in the province.

Betis Church was declared a National Treasure by the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) hence intensifying the province of Pampanga’s rich culture and history. Aside from being a significant place of worship, the church also serves as a favorite destination for art critics and enthusiasts.

Anyone who visits heaves nothing but full admiration to the intricacy of the church’s design.

Blogger, Enrico Dee shared that looking at the church’s ceilings simply gives one a feeling of prayerful silence. He added that the paintings even give that 3D effect.

David Poarch was impressed by the exquisiteness of the artworks and claimed that such only reflects the power of religion and God to influence and inspire people.

Resty Odon described it as the most astounding church in the Philippines.

In a post on Inquirer.net, Anna Valmero said that the paintings were really comparable to that of the Sistine Chapel’s. She furthered that for people to better appreciate them, they need to see and experience the artworks first hand.

As for now, check out these wonderful photos from Gino T. Malastas.

How to go there:
Ride a bus going to Angeles in Cubao. Get off at intersection in San Fernando. Ride a jeep going to palengke. From there, ride another jeep to Betis, Guagua.


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