While the Padre Pio Shrine in Batangas wasn’t specifically built to be a tourist attraction (it’s a church after all), hundreds of thousands of devotees have since visited the parish’s new location since the church was completed in 2013.

Situated at Brgy. San Pedro in Santo Tomas, the Padre Pio Shrine (officially known as the National Shrine and Parish of Saint Padre Pio), owes its popularity in part because of its beautiful structure, with many referring to it as one of the country’s most beautiful churches.

Spanning 1.6 hectares, the church has a very relaxed and solemn vibe to it. The main church, as well as an adjacent chapel, is constructed as such so devotees can come and go freely anytime of the day. There are no doors or gates.

The structure of the main church is made mostly of indigenous materials such as wood, stone, bamboo, sasa or nipa leaves and sawali or woven bamboo strips. The shape of its roof resembles a salakot, a traditional Filipino native hat made from nipa palm leaves.

The use of indigenous materials further give the church a more welcoming feel. It almost feels like you’re at home. Unlike traditional churches, the open concept of the church means it is actually more quiet because there are no unnecessary echoes. Visitors are also able to take photos without disturbing people praying inside the church.

The church is distinctly Filipiniana, eco-friendly, and adapted to the tropical climate of the site surrounded by a very green environment, making for a unique and serene atmosphere.

Before transferring to its current location, the Padre Pio Shrine was a small and modest chapel along Maharlika Highway in the same barangay. But when the number of devotees and parishioners started to trickle in from nearby towns and provinces, the chapel couldn’t accommodate them any longer. The site of the new church is almost a kilometer away from its original location.