bacolor church

The Altar of Repose of the Iglesia de San Guillermo de Aquitania, Bacolor, Pampanga, Philippines.

Mount Pinatubo erupted in 1991 and buried half of this church in lahar. The volcano’s eruption caught everyone in surprise, as it was thought to have been extinct for many centuries. Its eruption was one of the strongest recorded in the 20th century and blanketed the Central Luzon plain, including much of Metro Manila, in thick fumes. Prior to the eruption, Bacolor’s parish church was renowned for its elegance and the sumptuousness of its rites, especially during the Holy Week celebrations.

In the early to  mid-2000s, however, concerned parishioners slowly but surely started to revive Bacolor’s lost grandeur. Its stunning Altar of Repose, of beaten silver and towering at nearly two stories tall,reappeared for the first time in many years some time in the middle of the last decade, to the delight and edification of Pampanga’s Catholics (around 93 to 95% of the province is Catholic).