St. Dominic de Guzman Parish Church is a Roman Catholic church in Sto. Domingo, Albay. Sto. Domingo was formerly called Li’bog, and used to be part of the town of Albay (now Legazpi City). It only became a separate town in 1749, more than fifty years after the Franciscan priests left the administration of their parish in Albay and the secular priests took charge. Thus, the parish of Sto. Domingo never came under Franciscan care, which might explain why its chosen patron is the well-known founder of a different order of priests, the Dominicans.
The present church was constructed in 1850 under the supervision of then parish priest Fr. Martin Martinez, who served for more than 30 years from 1835 to 1866. This church replaced an old one, which was built on a site closer to the sea after the town was founded. The event that caused a new church to be built was a fire that burned the roofing of this old church, which was made of “basag” or split bamboos. The materials were volcanic rocks from Mt. Mayon taken at a site called Maranlog, now Brgy. San Isidro.
The use of volcanic stones which are easy to cut into blocks and other shapes allowed the church to be more flexible in the details of its ornaments. These include me topes, guttae, urns, and finials which are all noticeable in its facade. But the two eye-catching features of the church are its pair of belfries and pair of volutes or scrolls on its pediment. It shares the twin belfry feature with the Church of Malilipot which was also constructed around the same time. On the other hand, the pediment with volutes apparently took inspiration from the famous Church of the Gesù in Rome.
The devotion to St. Dominic de Guzman, whose image stands prominently on a niche at the church’s pediment, takes a local flavor in Sto. Domingo due to the constant threat of Mt. Mayon. The gozo or religious hymn to St. Dominic mentions protection from the wrath of Mayon, and ritual activities dedicated to him include procession on foot and novena to prevent the eruption of the volcano. In 1897, at least 226 individuals in the town perished from an eruption of Mt. Mayon, the worst since 1814. The event was so memorable to the townspeople that old folks still call it by the name “Pangiri-kiti” from the rumblings of the ashes and lava flowing towards the town.
Article: Provincial Tourism Culture and Arts Office (PTCAO)