The Holy Trinities of Maximo Vicente
Holy Trinity of Balic-balic circa 2006 (top left) and original version circa 1932
Two Roman Catholic churches in Manila share the common heritage of being built on the sacred ground of parochial cemeteries closed during the American colonial period. Interestingly, these same two churches have an image of the Holy Trinity created by the artisans of the same workshop.
The Most Holy Trinity Parish of Balic-balic stands on the former sacred ground of the parochial cemetery of Sampaloc, Manila. The closed cemetery was reopened in 1925 and the new parish was renamed under the patronage of the Most Holy Trinity in 1932. The patronal image of the Holy Trinity of Balic-balic was donated by Mr. & Mrs. Basilio J. Murillo of Santisima Trinidad Street in Balic-balic, Sampaloc. The image now stands on the left front altar where the tabernacle can also be found.
In the suburb of Santa Cruz, Manila, another former cemetery ground serves as the parochial church of the Espiritu Santo Church. The parish of San Lazaro was erected in 1926 and the church blessed in May 14, 1932. On May 26, 1951, Mr and Mrs. Jose G. Lopez of Jolo Lema, donated to the Espiritu Santo Church an image of the Blessed Trinity made as well by Maximo Vicente, the same artisans who created the Holy Trinity image of Balic-balic. How do the two Holy Trinities of Maximo Vicente compare with each other?
Both Holy Trinities shared the most common iconographical type of the Trinity in the Philippines – that of the enthroned God the Father (as an old man) and God the Son (as Jesus seated on the right side of God the Father) with the Holy Spirit (as a dove) hovering above. The whole Holy Trinity floats on a cloud with three (what else) angels singing praise and glory.
God the Father. In both Trinities, God the Father is portrayed as the ancient one with the long beard of a wise old man and wearing a triangular crown. However, in the Balic-balic Trinity, God the Father holds a scepter in His right hand while in the Espiritu Santo, God the Father holds a globe together with the Son. In both Trinities, God the Father wears the royal robe of gold although the Espiritu Santo also has green.
Above. Holy Trinity of Espirtu Santo Church.
God the Son. In both Trinities, God the Son wears a dominant red robe which symbolizes the passion and death of Jesus Christ. However, in the Balic-balic version, God the Son holds a cross in his left hand while in the Espiritu Santo version, Jesus Christ holds a globe together with God the Father. Both versions have the right hand of Jesus Christ extended outward in a sign of peace.
God the Holy Spirit. In both Trinities, the Holy Spirit hovers on top and in between God the Father and God the Son. Both versions portrays a white dove with extended wings and radiating halo of gold.
In terms of scale, the Holy Trinity of Balic-balic is smaller than that of the Espiritu Santo version simply because the 1932 altar of Balic-balic church was very small compared with the bigger edifice of the Espiritu Santo church. Today, both images could be found in the front left altar of both churches although the Holy Trinity of Balic-balic once graced the central main altar of the parish church but was moved to the left altar in the late 1990’s.