The first time I stepped into San Sebastian, I felt no special connection towards it. I only recall mama pointing out its special beauty. This comment, not empirical observation, created a subconscious regard that this church equaled beauty.
When I reached second year high school, I developed a deeper love for the Catholic faith, and with it came a reverential regard for Churches. It was at this time that my regard for San Sebastian’s beauty moved beyond architecture into personal attachment. It became part of me because it was an expression of what was most important to me: my faith. This personal attachment drew me to visit this church with more attention and reflection.
The high ceilings and cold, as if air-conditioned, interior are primarily the two aspects that made an impact on me. This is possibly because it is how the body feels that strikes a human person first. The high arched ceilings were produced in the Gothic style. These structures were built using steel and stone. Belgian Steel and Stone were also the main materials used in building the church. These materials most probably are responsible for the cold climate within San Sebastian.
The high arched gothic ceilings create a prayer space that is solemn and quiet, making it easier for internal recollection. The cool interiors allow for a more intense concentration, by eradicating the distraction caused by tropical heat.
Furthermore, the materials of steel and stone allow this church to survive tropical calamities such as typhoons and storms.
Looking at San Sebastian from the outside, one cannot miss the Gothic Turrets. It is closer to French Architecture than the commonly found Spanish-inspired Architecture. In fact, it makes the structure look similar to the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris.
Another Impressive part of the San Sebastian Church are the Stained Glass Windows. It is said to have been produced in Germany and was shipped to the Philippines. Its main themes are the mysteries of the Rosary, which makes the Basilica gain Marian character. Another aspect which makes it like the Basilica of Notre Dame (Our Lady in English) in France.
What makes the stained glass windows beautiful are the bright colors used and the intricate details. An instance of the latter is the details of the faces of the characters are clearly seen.
The Church was built in the late nineteenth century after an earthquake destroyed the original stone structure. The Augustinian Recollect Fathers commissioned the architect, Palacios to design it. It was built in Belgium, and brought piece by piece to the Philippines. The country where it was made explains the French influence because of its proximity to former Gaul territory.
One article which I read claims that people do not go to the San Sebastian Church because of its Religious significance but because of its Architectural grandeur. I agree that the Church is an Architectural masterpiece but insist that this encourages the Religious significance of the structure. I insist on this because its being called an Architectural masterpiece indicates that it is beautiful, therefore a close reflection of God.