Less than 1.5 kilometers from the northwestern corner of Gregorio S. Araneta Avenue and Aurora Boulevard is the Most Holy Redeemer Parish, at the corner of Brixton Hill and Landargun Streets. Although there is nothing much noteworthy when it comes to famous architects of artists contributing to the parish, the Most Holy Redeemer Parish is considered one of the most colorful and beautiful modern churches in Quezon City.
The Most Holy Redeemer Parish started as a small chapel in Balic-Balic, Manila, bordering Quezon City, the chapel was administered by Salesians of Don Bosco priests from the Holy Trinity Parish of Balic-Balic, and Jesuits from the Sacred Heart Parish of Santa Mesa. However, the Quezon City residents began to demand their own parish, instead for having to cross the city borders, so the Most Holy Redeemer Parish was established in 1954. And in 1962, the present church structure was blessed by Cardinal Rufino Jiao Santos (August 26, 1908 – September 3, 1973). And from 1962 to 1973, the parish was administered by the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart (established 1908 in the Philippines), from Gilmore Avenue in New Manila.
The Most Holy Redeemer is a beautiful example of the International Style of architecture, using clean geometric forms, and was gaining traction in Philippine design in the 1950s. The new parish uses the high ceilings and large stained glass windows of traditional churches, to utilize maximum light and air flow, to adapt to the Philippine tropical climate.
However, latter developments to the church were the inclusion of a Baroque styled retablo at the altar and the transepts. Although this was never part of the original designers’ vision, the Filipino church goers are more familiar and comfortable of the ornate detailing of for retable, especially to house the religious icons.
The altar retablo is not just a receptacle for the santos of the church, but also features two beautiful reliefs carved into the altarpiece. On the left side is a statue of Saint Joseph and the Christ Child, and a relief of the Nativity Scene. Breaking from tradition, the Sagrada Familia (Holy Family) is placed at the center of the retablo, instead of the image of the Crucified Christ. And at the right side of retablo is the statue of Saint John, the Evangelist (possibly), and a relief of Christ Healing the Sick. Most likely the relief of the Nativity was based on old prayer cards from the 1950s and 1960s, while the relief of Christ Healing the Sick is based on a 19th century etching by Paul Gustave Louis Christophe Doré (1832-1883).
The altar table has reliefs of the Four Evangelists: John, Luke, Mark, and Matthew. While on the lectern, the Latin words “Dei Verbum” (The Word of God) is carved on the front.
One striking aspect of the Most Holy Redeemer Parish is its great collection of santos all over the church, especially at the choir loft. Whether these were donations of the parishioners or not, the church serves as a virtual pantheon of Catholic saints. The large collection in the church is part of the parish’s attempt to reclaim Halloween as its religious intention, which is the All Hallow’s Eve or the eve to the Day of the Saints, in November 1. On October 31, parishioners hold a procession of the saints, as well as have the children dressed up to represent saints.
Although the are many santos throughout the church interior, however at the newly build side chapel there are only a handful of icons. This may be done, because the church is an open air structure, and it is usually closed to protect the many saints in the church. Whereas, the new chapel allows parishioners to hold their daily prayers and other activities, without fear of bumping into one of the icons.
The simple design of the Most Holy Redeemer Parish has accents of stained glass windows, with most of the windows in primary colors to accent the structure, and let in enough sunlight without being too glaring. The smaller stained glass windows at the altar area have the designs of the Four Evangelists, with Mark and Matthew at the left, and Luke and John at the right. However the centerpiece of the stained glass art is the porch window, which features the Blessed Virgin Mary as “Our Mother of the Most Holy Redeemer.”
This iconography of Virgin Mary is another representation of “Our Lady of Perpetual Help.” And this symbol is repeated in a concrete sculpture at the left side of the church door. At the right side is the image of San Lorenzo Ruiz (1600-1637), the first Filipino saint, and patron saint of the Philippines.
Nearby is the bell tower, rendered in the same sky blue as the rest of the façade. Its simple structure looks more like a water tower than a belfry.
At the left side of the church are the Parish Offices and the Adoration Chapel. Above the entrance to the adoration chapel is a relief of Christ Praying at the Garden of Gethsemane. While inside is the Bible verse from Mark 14:31 “Can you not watch one hour with Me?” that also is taken from the story of the Agony at Garden.
Finally, at the far right side of the church compound is an old cemetery, called the “Himlayan” or “Place of Rest.” This is where many of the old residents of Barangay Galas are interred.
The Most Holy Redeemer Parish has long been the center of community activities in the Galas district of Quezon City. And as the population grew, the parish was split into two, with the Our Lady of Fatima Parish established in 1974. At the meantime, the Most Holy Redeemer Parish continues to be a strong influence in the area, from the local schools, to the nearby funeral parlors along Gregorio Araneta Avenue.