Heritage Series: Visita Iglesia in Arayat, Pampanga

October 22, 2016

The town of Arayat in Pampanga is home to the beautiful Sta. Catalina de Alejandria Church.

Arayat town in Pampanga is best-known as the land of the fabled enchantress Maria Sinukuan who lives in the jungles of Mt. Arayat, a dormant volcano.

Sta. Catalina Church in Arayat, Pampanga
Sta. Catalina Church

Heritage Series: Visita Iglesia in Arayat, Pampanga

    From Sta. Ana town, we proceeded to the town of Arayat. At the town proper sits Sta. Catalina Church, a Renaissance-style edifice that is both a sentinel and an architectural treasure.

    History of Sta. Catalina Church

    Construction of Sta. Catalina Church began in the 1700s. Over the centuries, its exteriors have undergone alterations which gave the church its present design. 

    It had a multi-level belfry and elaborate frontage with archways that enclose cross-shaped widows. Although the walls are painted, there is no doubting the building's old age.

    A Virgin Martyr

    The Church was named in honor of Sta. Catalina de Alejandria (St. Catherine of Alexandria), an important virgin martyr who was put to death by ancient pagan rulers because she refused to give up her Christianity. 

    Legend had it that when her body was discovered in Mt. Sinai after centuries, it had growing hair and was giving out a stream of healing oil.

    The town of Arayat

    Arayat is one of the oldest settlements in Pampanga. It was established along the fertile banks of the Rio Grande de Pampanga (Great Pampanga River) and is most known for its iconic landmark -- Mt. Arayat, a dormant stratovolcano that is also a popular hiking destination and national park. 

    It was in its forests where the legend of a long-haired ethereal beauty that is Maria Sinukuan came to be. According to folklore, the nymph is the guardian of the woodland. 

    One day, a group of greedy men picked fruits and hunted animals excessively, much more than what they needed and without the permission of Maria. 

    As punishment, Maria turned them into wild boards. When the townsfolk also became excessive and selfish, Maria stopped bringing food to their doorsteps and refused to show herself thereafter.

    San Isidro Labrador Parish Church

    On our way to Nueva Ecija, we stopped by San Isidro LabradorParish  Church (St. Isidore the laborer), named after the patron saint of farmers.

    San Isidro Labrador Parish Church in Camba, Arayat, Pampanga
    San Isidro Labrador Parish Church

    Located at Barangay Kaledian (Camba), it was a small, modern building with contemporary lines and interiors. The church reminded us of the charming, slow-paced life in small provincial towns.

    After our prayer, we were back on the road to Nueva Ecija.

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    1. Very interesting post with lovely photos. Thanks for liking my post about my son's trip to the Great Wall of China. A niece of mine visited a friend in the Philippines last summer and said it was quite lovely. Now that I'm following your blog, I look forward to seeing more of it! :)

      1. Thank you very much! Hope you would visit the Philippines soon. :)

    2. Thank you very much! Hope you would visit the Philippines soon. :)