Taal Basilica, Taal, Batangas, Philippines, 2022
Taal Basilica was first built in 1575 near Taal Lake in present-day San Nicolas. The construction was led by Fr. Diego Espinar under the Augustinians with San Martin de Tours as their patron saint. The church has been improved for centuries since 1575, but was massively destroyed by the 200-day eruption of the Taal Volcano in 1754 which has also devastated the whole town of old Taal.
When the town moved to its current location on top of a hill that overlooks Balayan Bay, the construction of a new church was launched by Fr. Martin Aguirre. Alas, after decades of construction, another tragedy hit the town; this time, an earthquake, which destroyed the church yet again.
Four years later, another church was built at the same site and was led by Fr. Marcos Anton. Fr. Anton commissioned Architect Luciano Oliver to design and run the construction. Fast forward to 1878, the construction was finally complete. Under Fr. Agapito Aparicio, a 79 ft altar was added to the original plan. It was the largest church at the time.
It wasn’t until 1974 that it was declared as one of the country’s National Shrines. To this day, Taal Basilica remains to be the largest church in Asia.