The Minor Basilica of Saint Michael the Archangel , (Tagalog: Basilika Menor ni San Miguel Arkangel; Spanish: Basílica Menor de San Miguel Arcángel) commonly known as the Tayabas Basilica, is a Roman Catholic basilica located in Tayabas, Quezon, Philippines under the Roman Catholic Diocese of Lucena. Its titular is Saint Michael the Archangel, whose feast is celebrated annually on September 29.
The church is the largest in the province of Quezon; and is built in the shape of a key. Locals often refer to the church as Susi ng Tayabas ("The Key of Tayabas"). The church's 103-metre (338-foot) aisle also has the longest nave among Spanish colonial era churches in the Philippines.
The Catholic community of Tayabas was established in 1578 by Franciscan priests Fray Juán Portocarrero de Plasencia and Fray Diego de Oropesa de San José, known as the Apostles of Laguna and Tayabas. In 1580, the town of Tayabas was established as a parish with St. Michael the Archangel as its designated patron saint in 1580. Like most churches in the Philippines during the Spanish colonial era, the first church of Tayabas was a camarin-type church built using bamboo, nipa and anahaw between 1580 and 1585 under the supervision of Franciscan friars.
The church was repaired under the supervision of Saint Pedro Bautista in 1590. In the same year, the Catholic church obtained permission from the Superior Government to build the church using stone. Upon the order of Saint Pedro Bautista, leader of the Franciscans, the church was rebuilt in 1600 using bricks; this building was later destroyed by the 1743 earthquake but the walls were left standing. Due to the growing number of Catholics in Tayabas, the church was again rebuilt and extended. It was further expanded under the term of Father Benito de la Pila between 1856 and 1866 with the addition of the transept in the shape of a routunda and copula. The brick tile roof was replaced with galvanized iron sheets in 1894.
Father Manuel Gonzáles bought the administration building (casa administración) used by the provincial head of the Franciscans for 962 pesos in 1855. He donated it to the town to be used as classrooms to replace the old, ruined rooms. Gonzales ordered the school's construction in 1878; it was built using stone, lime and a tiled roof. Together with Father Samuel Mena, Gonzáles rebuilt the old Tribunal built by Governor La O, which had been unused since it was burned down in 1877. From 1896 to 1899, Father Isabelo Martinez became the first Filipino priest assigned to Tayabas Basilica, followed by Father Amando Alandy, a native of Tayabs, from 1899 to 1900.
The church's patio played a significant role during the struggle of the Filipino revolutionaries against the Spanish forces. General Vicente Lukban and his troops surrendered to the Spanish army on the patio on August 13, 1898, while the Philippine flag was waved from the church's belfry. During the Second World War, the church's convent was used as a garrison by the Japanese Imperial Army.
The church was dedicated on March 14, 1987, by the Lucena bishop Rubén T. Profugo, DD. On October 18, 1988, the title Minor Basilica was conferred upon the church by Pope John Paul II and the Congregation for Divine Cult, and was proclaimed during a eucharistic celebration on January 21, 1989.
Tayabas Basilica is considered to be one of the most beautiful churches in the Philippines. Through Presidential Decree no. 374, the National Museum of the Philippines declared Tayabas Basilica as a National Cultural Treasure on July 31, 2001, along with 25 other churches in the Philippines.
The church at Tayabas is generally considered to be Baroque architecture. It is included in a list of more than 30 churches declared National Cultural Treasures by the National Museum of the Philippines.
The influence of Chinese architecture in Tayabas is present in the design of Tayabas Basilica. Lion statues in front of the building show a link to the influence of Chinese traders before the Spanish colonial era. Cherubs in stone reliefs playing the lute, trombone, drum and trumpet can be seen in the church patio. Its facade is almost eclectic, and was added during renovations to the church. The unusual three-storey arrangement of the facade includes has an entrance flanked by two niches in Mudejar style. The windows of the choir loft and the central window on the second floor have capiz shells. The levels are separated by horizontal bands and images of angels, and several saints including Saint Francis of Assisi, Saint Dominic and Saint Diego of Alcala. On the topmost tier are stone-carved statues of archangels Michael, Gabriel and Raphael.
Tayabas Basilica has a unique floor plan that resembles a key. Because of this, the Basilica is often referred to by locals as Susi ng Tayabas ("Key of Tayabas")
The church's 103 m (338 ft) aisle is the longest of any church built during the Spanish colonial era. It was built between 1855 and 1860.
Tayabas Basilica's interior is built in the Neo-Classical style with seven altars. An image of the Nuestra Señora de los Angeles ("Our Lady of Angels") stands in the central retablo of the altar. Severo Carpintero, known as the Maestro Carpintero ("Master Carpenter") built the church's round transept and crossing. The dome was built together with a third storey and semicircular pediment. It also has an antique organ located in the choir loft and a balcony over the altar. The basilica's ceiling painting was restored in the 1990s by Delfin Antiola.
The basilica's 18th century clock was erected in early 1900 on the belfry; it is one of the oldest and largest church clocks in Asia. The clock is 0.5 m (1.6 ft) tall and has a circumference of 42 cm (1.38 ft). The hour and minute hands are 0.5 m (1.6 ft) and 62 cm (2.03 ft) long respectively. Running the clock are two weights connected by steel cable to the hour hand with a weight of 70 kg (150 lb) and 140 kg (310 lb) for the whole clock. The clock chimes once on the hour and half-hour. It was refurbished in 1971 during the term of Monsignor Gregorio Salvatus.
Tayabas Basilica has two ermita chapels dedicated to Nuestra Señora de las Angustias and to San Diego de Alcala.
The church has an old cemetery made of stone. A chapel with two towers was built in 1889 by Father Samuel Mena. The cemetery was closed when the barrio of Cota (now Lucena) became a town.
In 2000, the church underwent major renovations and restorations for the sixth time. The altar was moved from the northern apse to the crossing of the apse below the dome. The church's pulpit and the basilica's monastery were also restored. Fund-raising activities to pay for the restoration of the basilica in preparation for the church's 25th anniversary as a Minor Basilica in 2014 were done since June 2009.
In 2011, an estimated gross area of 1,798.43 m2 (19,358.1 sq ft) on the church's roof and roof framework was repaired and restored with the help of the National Museum. In 2011 the lighting of the facade was converted to solar energy using photovoltaic power panels and other devices. It is the first old church in the Philippines to use solar energy in its facade.
Tayabas Basilica is in the jurisdiction of the Vicariate of St. James of the Diocese of Lucena. Reverend Monsignor Carlos Pedro A. Herrera, PC serves as parish priest with Father Gerald A. Garcia and Father Arvin C. Pitahin as parochial vicars and Monsignor Beato S. Racelis, HP, as resident priest.
Tayabas town is also known for its religious activities, the most important of which is the feast of Saint Michael the Archangel, the town's patron saint who is celebrated annually on September 29. The town also celebrates the Viernes Dolores de Turumba in honor of the Our Lady of Sorrows of Turumba, who is celebrated with dance, chanting and a procession. On Holy Week, a stage play depicting the passion and death of Jesus Christ can be viewed on the church patio. The play including the procession of poon – wooden statues.