The first edifice you’ll run into when you do the Echo Valley hike is the Episcopal Church of St. Mary the Virgin. The church is a witness to the population of predominantly Anglicans in the town of Sagada. It is surprising to see a big church in a small town. I came from Banaue a couple of weeks ago and I didn’t find such a big church considering that Banaue is bigger than Sagada. Although they do have several small churches of different faith.
The big church has a spacious interior that matches its external size, although when I entered the church it felt to me like it’s a work in progress or maybe its simplicity conjures that impression. The church was built in the 1900s, after the big storms that hit and devastated the town of Sagada. The native residents helped rebuild the missionary houses established by the Rev. John Staunton which was ravaged by the storm. The Reverend’s name and date of birth and passing carved on a marble slab can be found on the post of the gate right where the GL bus line parks their Baguio route buses, few steps before the church.
Aside from the very simple altar with cluster of rocks as its base, though in all honesty, I can’t grasp the artistry of the design, nothing much adorns the interior, no images nor photos whatsoever. Or maybe because I was just in the Ilocos Region a month back and I was fascinated by the designs of their baroque churches that I was subconsciously comparing this one to those Catholic churches, which isn’t a fair benchmark.
Then again, I don’t know much about religions and its diversities, so maybe the Anglican church is meant to be devoid of intricate designs or display of several images or statues. I like its minimalism though, it’s simple, it’s serene and it’s along the Echo Valley trail, so drop by and see the place before heading to the cemetery above the valley.
Here's the church's mass schedule in case you may want to attend one.