Traveling in Faith: Visita Iglesia in the Philippines

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By MJ Gonzales | via Gogagah |

Visita Iglesia is one of the traditions that Filipinos would like to do every Holy Week.  It is because part of this practice is their time travel to seven or more churches where they pray and remember Jesus’ journey to Calvary (Stations of the Cross).  Traditionally, Visita Iglesia is celebrated every Maundy Thursday, but some folks do it in other days especially before Holy Week ends.

Manila Cathedral by Hitokirihoshi

Manila Cathedral (photo by Hitokirihoshi)

Since big part of this event is the trip going to sacred places, churchgoers plan it well with their friends and relatives. Mostly they preferred it by walk; so they do Visita Iglesia in churches that are not far to each other like those in Manila City.   Manila has plenty of architecturally and historically beautiful churches such as St. Jude Thaddeus Shrine, San Miguel Church (National Shrine of St. Michael and the Archangels), San Sebastian Church (Basilica Minore de San Sebastian), Quiapo Church (Minor Basilica of the Black Naza­rene), Sta. Cruz Church, Binondo Church (Minor Basilica of St. Lo­renzo Ruiz and Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary Parish), Manila Cathedral (The Manila Metropolitan Cathedral-Basilica) and San Agustin Church.  You can go these places through walk as most of them are just block away to each other,

There are some who like to go a little farther to discover classically-designed and century-old shrines.  In this category, the provinces of Laguna, Bulacan, and Rizal are the must- visit places. These provinces have religious churches will make you wonder how our ancestors built such awe-inspiring buildings.   Most of the old churches went through repairs and renovations due to wars, typhoons, earthquakes, and fire.  Is it a manifestation of strong faith? Old people found ways to always rebuild their churches.

Paoay Church Ilocos by Hitokirihoshi

Paoay Church in Ilocos Norte (photo by Hitokirihoshi)

If you’re looking for one-of-a-kind and most recognized churches to visit, include Church of San Agustin (Paoay, province of Ilocos Norte) and Church of Nuestra Señora de la Asuncion (Sta. Maria, province of Ilocos Sur). These are UNESCO World Heritage’s List of “Ba­roque Churches of the Philippines” like the Church of San Agustin (Intramuros, Manila).   Meanwhile, for those living abroad who want to do the unconventional Visita Iglesia, the Catholic Bishops’ Con­ference of the Philippines (CBCP) created http://visitaiglesia. net, where videos and photos of churches in the Philippines.

On the other note, Visita Iglesia should not be about travel or sighting of beautiful churches. The gist of this tradition is to have a meaningful and sincere prayer. It’s the time to recognize Christ’s sacrifices and gifts to human kind.

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