All photos courtesy of Dr. Raymund Feliciano
In San Juan, Batangas can be found a church dedicated to the Bohemian (now Czechoslovakia) martyr-saint, San Juan Nepomuceno or St. Johann of Nepomuk. The Prague University graduate was appointed pastor of the church of St. Gallus. After earning a doctorate, he was made a canon, and then Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Prague in 1393.
In San Juan, Batangas can be found a church dedicated to the Bohemian (now Czechoslovakia) martyr-saint, San Juan Nepomuceno or St. Johann of Nepomuk. The Prague University graduate was appointed pastor of the church of St. Gallus. After earning a doctorate, he was made a canon, and then Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Prague in 1393. It was said that because of his refusal of King Wenceslaus IV’s command to reveal the confessions made by his Queen Sophia, the king ordered him tortured and thrown into the Moldau River. As such, San Juan is the patron saint of Czech Republic, bridge builders, confessors and is invoked against floods, slander and indiscretions.
Though not a popular devotion, a few parish churches are dedicated to this “martyr of the confessional, thanks mainly to the Recolteos who propagated the devotion. The San Juan Nepomuceno Church, first erected in 1843 in San Juan, Batangas is one of the few to hold him as titular patron. A stone church replaced it through the efforts of Fray Damaso Mojica. Floods damaged it in 1894, but was rebuilt on its present site.
The Recollects ran the church until 1978, and the administration was transferred to the Oblates of St. Joseph. The same missionary order was responsible for making more major church improvements in 1995.
The 3-level church façade features a newer portico, three rosette windows between 4 columns, a second-tier supported by 2 columns with a niche containing a stone statue of San Juan Nepomuceno, and a pediment topped with a cross. The bell tower, with its midcentury design, seems out of place alongside the more ancient church. The churchyard is secured with concrete fence.
The age-old statue of San Juan Nepomuceno is featured prominently in the central niche of the altar mayor. He is shown wearing his biretta, and around him is a halo of 5 stars commemorating the stars that hovered and lit his body, on the night of his murder. His iconography includes a crucifix and a pam of martyrdom. In Latin America, he is depicted with a padlock on his lips to symbolize his vow of confidentiality of confessions.
Inside the church are a number of old, church-owned images including a Dolorosa, Sto. Entierro and a Nazareno.
In comparison with the more well-known churches of Batangas like San Sebastian of Lipa, St, Martin of Tours Basilica of Taal and St. Rafael in Calaca, the San Juan Nepomuceno Church may not look as spectacular , but remains one of the cultural treasures of the province.
Oblates of St. Joseph website: