EDSA Shrine Baptistry

Mary Queen of Peace Shrine (EDSA Shrine), 
EDSA corner Ortigas Avenue, Quezon City
Completed 2002

The Baptistery was completed in 2002, commissioned by Rev. Fr. Socrates Villegas, EDSA Shrine’s very first Rector who was Rector at the time and who provided the concept of the new space: Exodus.  Fr. Villegas stated that the metal basin that had been used in San Lorenzo Ruiz Chapel was no longer considered sufficient for baptisms.

John Paul II speaks of Exodus in his 1995 encyclical “Evangelium Vitae”:  The fullness of the Gospel message about life was prepared for in the Old Testament. Especially in the events of the Exodus, the centre of the Old Testament faith experience, Israel discovered the preciousness of its life in the eyes of God. When it seemed doomed to extermination because of the threat of death hanging over all its newborn males (cf. Ex 1:15-22), the Lord revealed himself to Israel as its Saviour, with the power to ensure a future to those without hope. Israel thus comes to know clearly that its existence is not at the mercy of a Pharaoh who can exploit it at his despotic whim. On the contrary, Israel's life is the object of God's gentle and intense love.

Fr. Villegas’ selection of Exodus as the theme of the new Baptistery adheres to the goal of EDSA Shrine to evoke the country’s deliverance from bondage and “despotic whim.”

The Baptistery is a gathering of distinct architectural components that help maintain the clarity of the existing context created by EDSA Shrine's architect Francisco "Bobby" Mañosa.

The space of the Baptistery is a perfect circle at the exact center of the light well located to the immediate right of the sanctuary of EDSA Shrine.  Depending on the need, the Baptistery can be visible to the rest of the worship space or be shielded from view by sliding into place a series of capiz door panels that are sufficient in number to completely surround the space.  The capiz ceiling of San Lorenzo Ruiz Chapel inspires the capiz of the door panels, capiz being a material that shields the view but permits the light through.

The central element is the solid marble Baptismal Font, composed of two basins. Closer to San Lorenzo Ruiz Chapel is an upper basin in the shape of a deltoid triangle, for the baptism of infants by pouring.  Concentric with the circular plan of the space is the lower, larger basin, a larger immersion pool at floor level, for the baptism of adults by immersion.  Connecting the upper basin with the lower basin is a pair of carved marble blocks that represent the parting waters of the Red Sea, reflecting the moment described in Exodus Chapter 14 Verse 16 when God commanded Moses to “lift up your staff and stretch out your hand over the sea, and split it in two, that the Israelites may pass through the sea on dry land.”

The staff of Moses plays an important role in the story of Exodus, and is first mentioned in Chapter 4 when God tells Moses to use it “to perform the signs” by which the people would be brought to freedom.  At the Baptistery, the long Bakawan handle of each capiz door panel that surrounds the Baptistery symbolizes the staff of Moses.

Shielding the Baptistery from the direct sunlight, and suspended from the pyramidal glass skylight, is a large capiz “cloud” or shield in the shape of a curved equilateral triangle, or deltoid curve.  It symbolizes the cloud and the Trinity that Pope John Paul II refers to in June 2000: “…the mystery of the Church, which has been made a community of salvation by the presence of God the Trinity. Like the ancient People of God, she is guided on her new Exodus by the pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night, symbols of God's constant presence.”

The Baptistery thus augments the significance of EDSA Shrine by introducing the Exodus narrative close to the sanctuary.