RELIGIOUS ART IN PAETE

Pu-onPaete is more than just a tourist destination - it is a place of pilgrimage. The craft that placed Paete on the world map is woodcarving, specifically, carvings of "pu-on," images of the saints. To view these pu-ons enshrined in our church of St. James the Apostle is in itself a rich spiritual experience popular among German and Spanish travelers.

Not only are these images venerated in Paete itself, these works of art are also known to have traveled long distances of time and space. As New Zealand author Patricia Brooks wrote in her book, WITHOUT REGRETS (Claretian Publications, Quezon City, RP, 1999):

The word 'paete' means 'chisel' in the local Tagalog language; with the encouragement of the barefoot Franciscan friars, the Little Brothers of St. Francis of Assisi, the Filipino artists of Paete excelled in their craft, exporting carvings and furniture to churches and palaces. St. Peter's Basilica, in Rome, has a life-sized crucifix carved at Paete and Mission Dolores in San Francisco has an ornate pulpit...

Another ornate pulpit made in Paete is in the fabled church of San Cayetano in the silver-mining town of Guanajuato, Mexico. There is also a small bas relief of the Holy Family on exhibit at the museum of St. Joseph's Shrine in Santa Cruz, California. I have seen both these works of Paetenian carvers, and felt proud that even with centuries between them, they came from the same place and sprung out of the same tradition.


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