There are many places of worship at the interior of Batasan Hills district of Quezon City; such as the Pentecostal Missionary Church, Presentation of Our Lord parish (Filinvest 1), Mary the Queen Sub-Parish, Capitol Hills Christian Church (Filinvest 2), Christ the King Parish (Filinvest 2), New Day Capstone Ministry, The Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saints, Iglesia ni Kristo Batasan Hills, and Iglesia ni Kristo Kalayaan, Saint Francis of Assisi (Freedom Park). Hiwever, the one the draws the most interest is the San Antonio de Padua Parish, along the Batasan-San Mateo Road.
The foundation of the St. Anthony parish was done with the aide of the Franciscan priests for the Our Lady of Angels Seminary, and the church was established as part of the Diocese of Novaliches, and was inaugurated in 2011. Although six years old, the church is still a work in progress, as parishioners continue to pool funds to complete the building.
The first thing that strikes a visitor to the San Antonio de Padua Parish is the beautiful stained glass windows throughout the church, including the giant image of San Antonio de Padua at the choir loft at the narthex.
Saint Anthony of Padua was born Fernando Martins de Bulhões (1195-1231) in Portugal. Upon his acceptance to Franciscan Order, Fernando Martins took upon the name of Anthony, after St. Anthony of Egypt (251–356), to whom the chapel where Fernando was ordained was dedicated to. Saint Anthony of Padua was known for his teachings, and is the patron saint of lost objects.
At the sides of the parish entrance, there are stained glasses windows with images of the life of Saint Anthony of Padua, as well as Catholic iconography of the Sto. Niño and the Our Lady of the Rosary. The largest image is taken from the New Testament’s John 21, where Jesus performs the miracle of the fishes on Lake Galilee.
At the sides of the church, there are more stained glass windows, depicting the Stations of the Cross or the Passion of Jesus Christ.
In most modern Catholic churches, the altar wall is dominated by large crucifix, whereas in older churches the altar has a ratable that has different saints placed in each niche. However, for the San Antonio de Padua Parish, the altar wall is divided equally for the Crucified Christ at an alcove behind the altar and the image of St. Anthony of Padua and the Christ Child right on top of the alcove. To the sides of the altar are stained glass windows of the four evangelists, St. Matthew and St. Luke to the left, St. Mark and St. John to the right.
What makes the San Antonio de Padua Parish stand out is the Art Gallery of Saint Anthony, located in a room behind the altar. In this art gallery, there are many digital reproductions of classical painting dedicated to St. Anthony. Among these reproductions are the works of El Greco (Doménikos Theotokópoulos, 1541-1614), Francisco de Zurbarán (1598- 1664), Sir Anthony van Dyck (1599-1641), Antonio de Pereda y Salgado (1611-1678), Elisabetta Sirani (1638-1665), Bartolomé Esteban Murillo (1617-1682), and Giacomo Farelli (1624-1706); which are all printed on tarp. Sad to say, most of the images are not so clear, as they were based on low resolution images that were downloaded from the internet.
Aside from the painting reproductions and excerpts from the life of St. Anthony of Padua, the art gallery sometimes holds exhibitions of religious paintings created by young artists from the different Catholic schools in the area. One such exhibit of student works was held in April 2016, in honor of the arrival of relics of Saint Anthony: a golden bust of the saint with pieces of his facial skin incorporated into the sculpture as well as an actual rib of his. The arrival of the relics had thousands of devotees visit this small church, for few days it was kept on display.
With all the buzz created by the art gallery and the visitation of the relics, visitors could still find quite solace at the Adoration Chapel, found right below the gallery. A small simple room, the chapel still subtly inspires awe, with its stained glass windows dedicated to the Sacred Heart and the Ten Beatitudes.
The San Antonio de Padua may not yet be a heritage site, but with its slowly developing influence in the area, it may one day be. That includes its thrust if educating the youth, with the San Antonio de Padua Catholic School, right beside the church. So why not visit this hidden treasure of the Batasan Hills?