The all-brick Sta. Monica Church has buttressed walls. On the left side of the church building is the detached bell tower, and on the right side, you'll notice a 3-level brick bridge connecting the church to the convent. This bridge is said to lead to a staircase to the convent.
Sta. Monica Church also has a detention building and torture room with two huge pillar encrusted by bricks. According to our guide, these pillars were used during the Spanish regime to hang Filipinos charged with treason and other high crimes... No wonder, I had goose pimples when we walked near the place!
We were supposed to see a museum at the ground floor of the convent which housed memorabilia, books and photographs, as well as archive records on the history of the parish but it was closed.
It would be nice to visit Sta. Monica Church to offer thanksgiving prayers for safe travel. If you have time, you can also go for via crucis (stations of the cross). There are stations of the cross inside the church, and there are outdoor stations of the cross by the road near the river.
There is much to learn and appreciate about its historical background. Before it was named in honor of San Augustine's mother, Sta. Monica, it was formerly called Church of San Miguel to commemorate the first Augustinian missionaries' arrival at Sarrat on September 29,1721, San Miguel's feast day. Later, it was named Sarrat Church by virtue of government legislature to restore the town's original name. Actually,the first convent established in 1769 served as temporary church.
The structure of the church and belfry were built in 1779. When the convent was damaged by fire in 1816, another convent was built and finished in 1817. It burned down again in 1882 so a new one was built anew and completed in 1896. Restoration/renovation jobs have been done as part of the church maintenance, but the most talked about restoration job was the one done in preparation for Irene Marcos' wedding. Unfortunately, the altar and parts of the belfry were again damaged by an earthquake that occured a little more than 2 months after the lavish wedding.
There are picnic benches by the Sarrat Riverbank, perfect place for rest/ meditation, or even a picnic. The tall trees, green grass and serene river offer a refreshing relief from the hot, sunny weather.