Father Barquin contracted Zaragoza for the design of the church, and Eduardo Santiago to build it. A few months later, Zaragoza finished what became as “extraordinary architectural design.”
The church was completed in 1980, and Father Barquin considered it a “monument of love of the Filipinos for the Blessed Virgin Mary…”
On September 7, 1980, the Shrine was inaugurated, officiated by Cardinals Sin and Julio Rosales. The inauguration took place on the “eve of Mary’s Nativity”. During the ceremony, Zaragoza offered a scale model of the church to Cardinal Sin to symbolize the “turnover of the Shrine to the ecclesiastical jurisdiction of the Cardinal, being the Archbishop of Metro Manila.”
Zaragoza’s design for the church concretized (Fr. Barquin’s) aspirations. He understood the vision, being a devotee himself. …From an advocacy, he moved to the realm of a religious devotion.
This time, Zaragoza had mastered his chief material which was concrete. The sculptural capability of the material was in full harness. One can even argue that the uniqueness of the church rests on its being more sculptural than architectural because of its demanding challenge to the material.
In contrast with the seemingly organic form in the exterior, the interior features a highly symmetric floor plan. It defined Zaragoza’s extraordinary gift to fuse architectural formalism with theology. Zaragoza, a man steeped in liturgy, art and architecture, was the best person to combine all three in a work… all for the glory of God.
The roof, which can be likened to a dome, features spirals that gather in a vortex akin to what nature has equipped the nautilus. From this convergence rises the pylon, some 100 feet high, all in concrete and capped by a steel cross in the exterior.
Of all the works of Zaragoza, the National Shrine of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal has preserved its original architecture and remains unchanged, save for minor maintenance. In 1994, however, a strong typhoon broke the glass panels and doors and had to be replaced.
Excerpts from JOSE MARIA V.ZARAGOZA, Architecture For Man, For God
By Ruben D. F. Defeo and Maria Lourdes Zaragoza Banson
Published by ARTPOSTASIA INC. 2004