Mayon volcano, with the Cagsawa church tower bell ruins at the foreground.
[Photo republished with kind permission from Robert S. Gardner, www.aenet.org/philip]
In 1814, Mt. Mayon, in the province of Albay, the Philippines, erupted and devastated the surrounding
communities. This is what remained of the Cagsawa church, whose bellfry has remained standing as a mute
testimony of the enormous disaster caused by flowing lava. Some 1,200 people sought sanctuary in the church,
thinking that they would be saved from the fury of Mayon volcano. All of them died. One could imagine that,
in their last moment, they struggled to climb to this bellfry as others below tried to pull them down. It
must be a tragic, horrifying experience.
The photo below shows Cagsawa church before being buried by lava. It appears desolate and the
thick vegetation around it suggests that it had been abandoned and not used for a long time. There is also
some sign that the church had earlier been threatened by lava flows.
[Photo from Jenny Exconde's web]
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