Nasugbu’s Church of St. Francis Xavier is a relatively new edifice as much of its construction happened only during the 1990’s. The Nasugbu parish, once under the jurisdiction of the Parish of the Immaculate Conception in Balayan, underwent a sad and dark turn of events in the past. Its first chapel, as well as a convent for the parish priest, was built in Brgy. Looc.
Later, the town transferred to its present location. In 1852, a church was dedicated to the Nuestra Seňora Virgen de le Escalera and St. Francis Xavier. In 1896, after the people of Nasugbu rose against the Spanish colonial regime, Spanish troops locked up almost 500 men, women and children inside the church and then set the church on fire.
Another simple, wooden parish church was built on its present site. Eventually, the town’s growing population necessitated the construction of the much larger, present church which was started in the early 1990’s. During the Centennial Celebration of the Archdiocese of Lipa, the church was declared as a Pilgrimage Church.
The church has a Romanesque-style façade with a portico over the driveway supported by fluted columns with Corinthian capitals, on top of which is an entablature and a triangular pediment. The façade’s second level, also topped by a triangular pediment, has a large, centrally located rose window flanked by two smaller circular windows. In front of the main entrance is the church’s antique bell, forged in Spain and bearing the king’s royal seal.
The interior has a magnificent barrel vaulted ceiling painted in the trompe-l’œil style. The main altar, above which is a dome, features expensive hardwood carvings. It has an antique, larger-than-life restored crucifix. The Immaculate Conception is enthroned on the Gospel side while that of St. Joseph, the patron of Batangas, is placed on the Epistle side. Underneath an antique carving of the Most Blessed Holy Trinity is an image of St. Francis Xavier surmounting the top arch. The central focus of the magnificent altar is the Tabernacle of the Most Holy Sacrament. Beneath the altar of the church is an ossuarium.
The octagonal, 4-storey bell tower, on the church’s right, is topped by a cupola. It can be reached by 200 steps in 3 spiral stairways and two wooden ladders. On November 21, 2006, a whole set of 18 carillon bells (the biggest weighed 320 kilos while the smallest weighed 55 kilos) from Paccard-Fonderie de Cloches of Annecy in France, costing PhP4.4 million, were installed at the tower.
The carillon plays in two musical scales of 18 bells, three are swinging big bells (moving to and fro and making sounds in each movement) and 15 are fixed (do not move and are struck by clappers outside), each producing a distinct tone set by its manufacturer in France. Thus, 18 bells mean 18 notes.
Church of St. Francis Xavier: J.P. Laurel St., Nasugbu, Batangas. Tel: (043) 931 – 5186.