The town of Paete was founded by Father Juan de Plasencia in 1580. The town’s church under the patronship of St. James the Great was built in stone in 1646, together with its convent. Like most of Philippine churches, it has its share of damages caused by fire or earthquake. The Church of Paete has undergone several renovations notably in 1717, 1840 and 1880. The church was rebuilt in 1884 under the administration of Father Pedro Gallano, but this late 19th century church was badly damaged by the earthquake of August 20, 1937. The church was renovated sometime in 1980 and was declared as a national historical site in 1981.
The church has a lavish and enormous Renaissance façade and considered to be the “most florid of Laguna churches.” It has floral motifs, arched main entrance and windows and the façade has a bas-relief of St. James defeating the Moors. The bell tower is Muslim inspired tower with terrace and a pointed dome.
Inside the church is a treat. The floor still has its original baked tiles. The town of Paete is famous and celebrated for its skilled sculptors. The church takes pride of this talent as can be seen in the niches of the main altar and on the Stations of the Cross. The five golden retablos are made by local artist Bartolome Balatino. Please note that the main altar and the statutes were draped in purple because it was Maundy Thursday when I visited.
I was also fascinated with the two paintings of St. Christopher. The first painting was presumably dated in the 1780 by an unknown artist. In this painting, the Saint was dark skinned with naked torso. According to stories, the Spanish friars did not like the sword with sea lion hilt, because it gave an impression that the saint was a pirate. On the other hand, the second painting was made by a Paeteño Bartolome Dans in the 19th century. In this painting, the saint was featured in European clothes during the 16th century. Other paintings made by Bartolome Dans include Purgatorio and Langit, Lupa and Impierno.
Here’s the side facade of the church with the mountain view.