The beautiful brick church of Caramoan

Facade of Caramoan Church

Facade of Caramoan Church

The parish church of St. Michael the Archangel is one of the beautiful churches in Camarines Sur. Made almost entirely of brick, its red color makes it stand out the moment you pass by the church grounds. It’s a long rectangular structure with an elegant facade topped with a belfry.

Archival image of Caramaon Church photographed by Frank L Crone in the online collection of the Indiana University - Bloomington

Archival image of Caramaon Church photographed by Frank L Crone, early 20th century, in the Lilly Library online exhibition, a collection of the Indiana University – Bloomington

I’m not really sure when the church was built as there are no markers or inscriptions but my guess is late 18th to early 19th century. Judging from the archival image at the right, my guess is that the church, like most structures during the Spanish colonial era had a lime wash for a paletada. The kumbento (parochial house), used to stand in line with the church similar to Talisay, but is now gone. The current kumbento is a modern structure.

Although, like most churches in Bicol, the interior has long been renovated. The retablo mayor is modern, including the ceiling and now sporting a marble flooring. However, there are still niches of the dead found at some parts of the nave while the windows look original.

The exterior is all bricks with incipient buttresses that look more like columns stretching from end to end of the nave and at the back. It’s only the rear buttress, found at the center that is voluminous compared to the rest. Blind windows also decorate the top level of the nave.

The facade is the most striking, although simple. It consists of three levels with a pair of niches and the main portal at the first, a pair of windows and a central niche that houses an old (antique?) image of the patron, and a small triangular pediment limited only to the central column. Two pairs of jarlike finials adorn each side with a balustrade connecting to the central belfry.

About the form of the facade. This particular type, with the center topped by a belfry is repeated in several other churches in the Bicol region. The closest is the one in San Jose Partido but with curving and higher facade. There’s also in Lagonoy, although its only two levels high. Sagnay and Goa have similarities while Tigaon is 19th century.

Interior of Caramoan Church, modernized with a new retablo mayor

Interior of Caramoan Church, modernized with a new retablo mayor

The rear part of the church interior

The rear part of the church interior

Left, niche at the facade; right, original window at the nave of the church still as seen from inside

Left, niche at the facade; right, original window at the nave of the church still as seen from inside

Top of side entrance of church

Top of side entrance of church

Caramoan Church

One of a few niches containing the remains of the dead buried inside the church.

The back portion of the church. Notice the buttresses at the center

The back portion of the church. Notice the buttresses at the center

The top belfry shown front and from the right side of the church

The top belfry shown front and from the right side of the church

The nave of the church

The nave of the church

Original perimeter fence of the church

Original perimeter fence of the church

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