Dauis Church: Where History and Beauty Come Together

The Church of Our Lady of the Assumption

Patron Saint: Our Lady of the Assumption
Feast day: August 15

News Update: August 14, 2023 - first canonical coronation of a Marian image in Bohol

Archbishop Charles John Brown, the Papal Nuncio, led the recent canonical coronation of the image of Our Lady of the Assumption at the Assumption of Our Lady Shrine Parish (Dauis Church) in Dauis, Bohol. This momentous occasion marked the first canonical coronation of a Marian image in Bohol and took place on August 14, on the eve of the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

The ceremony was attended by local government officials and representatives from the National Museum of the Philippines. During the event, a marker designating the church as a National Cultural Treasure was unveiled.

Dauis Church, like many other heritage churches in Bohol, suffered extensive damage during the 7.2 magnitude earthquake in October 2013. However, this disaster led to the restoration of these cherished heritage churches, which hold immense significance for the people of Bohol.

Bishop Alberto Uy of Tagbilaran, in his message, emphasized that despite the challenges and difficulties faced, the Lord continues to guide His perfect plan.

The National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP) handed over the church to the diocese in 2018 after the completion of the restoration work. This restoration effort was a testament to the resilience and commitment of the Boholano community in preserving their cultural heritage.

The Dauis Church complex was declared a National Cultural Treasure in 2011, boasting a unique blend of neo-gothic and neo-classical architecture. The church, originally constructed by the Jesuits in 1697, underwent significant rebuilding in 1863 and was ultimately completed in 1923.

Bishop Uy expressed his deep gratitude to the faithful people of Bohol for their unwavering prayers and support throughout the restoration process.

It's worth noting that there are 130 churches across the Philippines that have received recognition as National Cultural Treasures, Important Cultural Properties, and National Historical Landmarks, with Bohol proudly hosting twenty of these historically significant churches.

About Dauis Church

Welcome to Dauis Church, also known as the Church of Our Lady of the Assumption! Located in the picturesque town of Dauis on Panglao Island, this historical church is a must-visit destination for travelers exploring the beautiful province of Bohol in the Philippines.

Dauis Church stands proudly on a strip of land along the shore of Panglao Island, offering a stunning view of Tagbilaran City across the narrow channel.

To reach the church, you can take a pleasant hike, or alternatively, ride a motorbike or car.

If you prefer public transportation, passenger jeepneys and mini-buses are available on the Tagbilaran-Panglao route, and you can ask at the terminal for the ride that passes through Dauis town.

The early history of Dauis reveals its significance even before the arrival of the Spaniards. Chinese artifacts discovered in the area in the 1970s indicate its thriving population.

The first Spanish missionaries arrived in Dauis in 1697, and the Jesuits established their main residence here by the seashore in 1753.

Over the years, the church went through several reconstructions and changes in administration. The Recollects took over the Dauis church from the Jesuits in 1768 and continued its administration until 1898 when the Filipinos revolted against the Spaniards.

The present Dauis Church, the fifth incarnation, was initiated by Rev. Fr. Julio Saldana, a Recollect, in 1863. The church showcases a mixture of architectural styles, including Gothic and neoclassical influences. Its facade features a portico and a second-level facade built in an ornamental neoclassic style, enclosing the choir loft.

As you step inside, you'll be captivated by the intricate interior design of Dauis Church. The retablos or altars are a blend of different styles, possibly recycled parts from various historical periods. The central altar, housing the image of Our Lady of the Assumption, resembles a temple rather than a traditional wall-like retablo. The side altars in the transepts boast 18th-century twisted columns, while the niches exhibit a neoclassical style. The church also houses a remarkable wooden pulpit from Spanish times, antique confessionals, and a stunning set of Stations of the Cross.

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The ceiling paintings of the church deviate from biblical scenes and instead feature a Renaissance-style coffered ceiling.

Murals depicting St. Anne and the Child, Mary, St. Joseph and Jesus, and Jesus' Triumphant Entry into Jerusalem adorn the area beneath the choir loft. Painted biblical scenes embellish the ceiling above the altar.

Make sure to admire the stained glass windows adorned with painted angels and religious symbols.

The church's towers are also worth exploring, with a bell tower showcasing Spanish and American influences and offering a panoramic view from the top.

Near the church, you'll find a low wall that might be remnants of the fortification erected by the Spaniards, as well as a hexagonal tower known as "Castillo del Corazon de Jesus."

This tower, commissioned by Recollect Rev. Fr. Santiago de Corazon in 1774, served as a lookout for Moslem raiders.

Dauis Church is not only a place of worship but also a cultural and architectural treasure that reflects the rich history of Bohol.

Visit this remarkable church to immerse yourself in its beauty and to experience the peaceful ambiance it offers.

Early History

Even before the Spaniards arrived, Dauis was already well-populated as shown by early Chinese artifacts retrieved in the area in the 1970’s.

The first Spanish missionaries arrived in Dauis in 1697.

According to Javellana, after 1753, the Jesuits moved their main residence from Loboc, in the interior of Bohol, to Dauis by the seashore.

On 1768, the Jesuits were expelled from the Philippines and all Jesuit missions were turned over to Augustinian Recollects.

The Recollects administered the Dauis church until1898 when the Filipinos revolted against the Spaniards.

Based upon Jesuit records, a church of light materials may have been built in Dauis earlier.

By 1753, another church with a convento was finished under Rev. Fr. Joseph Nepomuceno, a Jesuit.

The Recollects built another church of bamboo and wood in 1769, but this was burned in 1795, thus necessitating the construction of a fourth church.

An 1886 report described this church as made of tabigue and roofed with nipa.

This must be the one immortalized by a painting on the ceiling on the sala of the convento.

The present church, the 5th, was started by Rev. Fr. Julio Saldana, a Recollect, in 1863. This was a meter more in length than the older one, but 9 meters more in width, and 6 meters more in height.

The first level façade was completed in 1879. Fr. Saldana had his name and date finished written on the frieze above the principal arcade. But by January 1884, the 4 arches supported by a column holding up the cupola collapsed.

Repairs were made; a second tower was built but left unfinished as it stands today.

The upper level of the façade was completed in the early 1920’s by. Rev. Fr. Natalio del Mar.

The church was consecrated by Bishop Juan Gorordo of Cebu on August 23, 1923. In 1924, a cross was installed over the pediment; 61 years after Fr. Saldana laid its cornerstone.

Exterior Design

The present church is a mixture of artistic styles.

The Gothic influence, as mentioned in an 1886 report, is manifested in the tower and its half-built twin: the bases of the towers feature narrow lancet windows, and the uppermost level of the sole belfry, constructed in 1938-1939, bristles with pointed arches, spires, and crockets.

The commemorative inscription “ Fr. Saldana”, placed on the frieze of the main entrance, can still be made out despite so many renovations.

The church in Dauis is one of the sophisticated and complex structures of its kind in Bohol.

Built according to a plan for basilicas, that is, with a high central nave flanked by lower aisles, certain innovations have been added such as a pair of extensions to form “transepts “.

The transept “arms” are unique, as their walls are built diagonal to the nave, instead of the common right-angle configuration.

The crossing is topped by a cupola in the shape of a low octagonal pyramid.

The church’s front has a portico which shades the width of the entrance.

Above the portico is the second level façade, built in an ornamental neoclassic style.

This extension encloses the choir loft, a common feature in Bohol churches.

Even the apse has a grand entrance of its own.

Open spaces on three sides of the church allow an excellent view of the architectural design and heighten its monumentality.

Bohol Dauis Church

Interior Design

Upon entrance to the church, one finds four massive posts, 2 meters long by 1.5 meters wide, supporting the portico that shoulders the choir loft.

The retablos or altars in this church are a mixture of styles, most probably recycled parts from structures of different historical periods.

The center altar, where stands the image of Our Lady of the Assumption, is in the form of a temple, not a wall-like retablo.

The side altars, in the transepts, have 18th century twisted columns. The niches are neoclassic.

The image of Our Lady of Consolation occupies the largest niche in the gospel retablo. Above it is that of the Child Jesus, and below it that of St. Jude.

The wooden pulpit of Spanish times, carved with designs, still stands. Two antique confessionals are still in use. This church has one of the most beautiful Stations of the Cross. It has uniformed benches and well-kept tiled floors.

The paintings on the ceiling, over the nave and aisles, bear no biblical scenes. Instead, the illusion of a Renaissance artesonado, or coffered ceiling, was preferred. Beneath the choir loft are murals of (a) St. Anne and the Child, Mary, (b) St. Joseph and Jesus, & (c) Jesus Triumphant Entry into Jerusalem. On the ceiling above the altar are painted biblical scenes.

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The stained glass windows bear no designs.

However, the areas between and above the windows are ornamented with painted angels and religious symbols.

The signature of Ray Francia, who painted many Bohol churches from the 1920’s to the 1930’s, appears above the north transept.

Canuto Avila and sons, dated 1949, signed the paintings on the south side of the sanctuary. The signature of Lito Arcaya is found on the panel over the sanctuary.

Towers

Bohol Dauis Church

The high bell tower at the church front, looks dignified, rising tall and straight with its narrow vertical openings. One climbs a winding staircase to reach the top. As one reaches the level of the choir loft, he can clearly differentiate the Spanish and American influences in its construction; for instance, the use of coral stones and poured cement. In this tower are the 2nd and 3rd oldest bells in Bohol, both dated 1783; the oldest, dated 1690, being in the church of Calape, Bohol.

The plaza fronting the apse is bordered by a low wall, possible remains of the fortification erected by the Spaniards.

Near the back of the church stands a squat hexagonal tower built as a look-out for Moslem raiders. This was commissioned by Recollect Rev. Fr. Santiago de Corazon and bears the year 1774.

Locals call this tower “Castillo del Corazon de Jesus”, possibly after its builder, but it could also mean the Sacred Heart of Jesus pierced by an arrow – the symbol of the Augustinians - that is carved with the year 1774.

When on top of this tower, one gets a good view of the church and the convento. On the opposite side one gets a glimpse of the beautiful skyline of Tagbilaran City, which lies nearby across a narrow channel.

The Convento

The part of the convent parallel to the church is built of massive coral stone blocks dating from Jesuit times.

The newer L-shaped wings are of fine corral stones. Signs of antiquity are the elaborately carved corbels supporting the roof beams.

A cantilevered gallery runs almost around the convent. In some places, the tabigue walls are plainly visible, framed by massive, sinuous tree trunks.

The side facing the sea ends in a large breeze-cooled sala dominated by a huge octagonal ceiling with paintings by Ray Francia depicting the founding of the Dauis church.

Other Features

A well, known for its water’s healing power, lies at the foot of the main altar. Local history tells that this well originated from the Spanish era.

Pirates often attacked Christian settlements and it was during one such attack that the people took refuge behind locked doors of the church. Besieged by the enemy for days, the people run out of food and water.

The well miraculously sprang up and since then has become the source of drinking water for the populace nearby, especially during droughts.

The water tastes truly fresh, despite the well’s closeness to the seashore.

The image of the patron saint, Our Lady of the Assumption, is famed to be miraculous, too. (So many petitions of her devotees are granted!) Tales from time to time crop up that the patron saint’s attire is filled with amorsico, a vexing weed. The faithful believe that their Mother goes around Her domain as she watches over Her children. Dauis church is a pilgrimage site, with the pilgrims carrying empty containers to take home water from the miraculous well.

A short walk from the convent’s end leads to the shore where there are sheds that jut out to the seafront, providing an ideal place for prayer and meditation, or for pure relaxation, feasting one’s eyes on the beauty and glory of God’s creation: the often placid sea, the beautiful scenery, the distant harbor lights of Tagbilaran City, to mention a few.

A lovely Shrine of the Blessed Virgin Mary stands close to the shore, near the squat watchtower. Its winding staircase is an invitation to get closer to Our Lady, and to enjoy the lovely vista of land and sea laid before one’s eyes.

Devotions

The church of Our Lady of the Assumption is a center for Marian pilgrimages emanating from the different towns of Bohol.

On certain occasions, Tagbilaran faithful hike the distance from their city to this site to invoke special petitions or mainly to honor Our Lady.

In the three retablos, besides as Our Lady of the Assumption, Mama Mary is venerated as Our Lady of Consolacion, Our Mother of Perpetual Help, Our Lady of the Holy Rosary, and as Our Mother of Sorrows.

The Dauis faithful also show deep veneration to the Crucified Christ, to the Santo Nino, to the Holy Face, to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, and to the Divine Mercy.

Favorite saints given special places in their altars include St. Joseph, St. Peter, St. Anthony, St. Lorenzo Ruiz, St. Jude, and St. Padre Pio.

Dauis

Dauis Hotels and Resorts

Other Churches:
Immaculate Concepcion in Baclayon
Dauis Bohol Church
Albuquerque Bohol Church
Loay Bohol Church
Corella Bohol Church
Loboc Bohol Church


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