From Sinait, we finally entered the province of Ilocos Norte and drove the remaining 50 kms., without any stopover, to the provincial capital of Laoag City where we met up with the others for merienda at a Greenwich outlet. While they were still dining, I slipped out and walked a short distance to to visit the city’s Cathedral of St. William the Hermit and its separate and unusual Sinking Bell Tower.
|Cathedral of St. William the Hermit|
This church was first built in 1580 as a wood and thatched nipa palm chapel. The present Italian Renaissance and Baroque-style church was built between 1650 and 1700, seriously damaged during the November 14, 1707 earthquake, partially destroyed by fire in 1843 and completely restored by Fr. Vicente Barreiro. It was again damaged during the July 18, 1880 earthquake and repaired again by Fr. Santiago Muniz and Engr. Antonio de la Camara. The church was occupied by Pedro Almazan in 1661, by revolutionaries in 1896, American forces in 1899 and by Aglipayans in 1901. It was the scene of the 1932 diocesan Marian Congress and was slightly damaged during the September 7, 1983 earthquake when statues from the altar and niches fell to the floor.
This stone and brick church has a unique, recently-plastered, 2-storey facade with a main arched entrance flanked by 4 pairs of overscaled, twin-engaged pilasters, without pediments, crowned by a series of coupled urn-motif finials and pseudo-Corinthian capitals with its rosettes and acanthus leaves. Rising from the architrave and decorating the choir loft level are 5 sets of mini-columns with pseudo-Doric capitals. Columns in each story follow their own patterns, ending abruptly without reaching the next level. There are also capiz windows with wrought iron grilles and two exterior stone staircases, one of which is converted to a Lourdes-type grotto. From its barrel-vaulted ceilings hang chandeliers donated by the late Pres. Ferdinand E. Marcos. Over the main altar is the Augustinian symbol of a transfixed heart and a tasseled hat. The deeply recessed niche shows the image of San Guillermo, the patron saint of Laoag.
|The Sinking Bell Tower|
Cathedral of St. William the Hermit: A. Bonifacio St., Laoag City, Ilocos Norte.