San Juan de Dios Parish Church, also San Rafael Church, is an 18th-century Roman Catholic church situated in Bgy. Poblacion, in San Rafael, Bulacan. Its titular patron is St. John of God; Saint Raphael, one of the seven archangels, is the secondary patron saint. It is in this church that the Battle of San Rafael took place, wherein hundreds of retreating Filipino soldiers and civilians lost their lives during a battle with the Spanish on November 30, 1896. A historical marker by the National Historical Commission of the Philippines was installed in front of the church in 1997 to commemorate the massacre of an estimated 800 Filipinos.
Battle of San Rafael
The church is the site of the Battle of San Rafael, a battle fought between Filipino revolutionaries under the leadership of General Anacleto “Matanglawin” Enriquez against the Spanish army headed by Commandant Lopez Arteaga. On their way from the town of Paombong, Bulacan to the mountain ranges of Bulacan, General Isidoro Torres of Malolos decided to divide the troop of Katipuneros into two: one group under his supervision while the other under the guidance of General Enriquez and his brother Colonel Vicente Enriquez. The group of General Enriquez was supposedly heading to the town of Baliuag, Bulacan but decided to stay instead in San Rafael, believing it to be a strategic site. Unknowingly, a Spanish troop from Manila heading towards San Rafael, prepared to silence the 20,000 Filipino insurgents. The battle started at around 7 a.m. on November 30, 1896. The Spanish forces were so strong that General Enriquez ordered a retreat to the church of San Rafael. Sometime in the middle of the battle, some of the Filipino troops including Colonel Enriquez were separated from the rest of the group and headed to the town of Bigaa (now Balagtas). At around noon, the Spanish army forced the church doors open and murdered the Filipino revolutionaries seeking shelter in the church. It is estimated that 800 people were killed in the battle, most of whom were children, women and other locals. The number of casualties was so immense that it was believed that blood spilled in the church reached ankle-deep. The gobernadorcillo of San Rafael ordered a mass grave to be made near the church. It is believed that the Battle of San Rafael inspired the young general Gregorio Del Pilar (a close friend of General Anacleto Enriquez) to join the revolution against Spain.