Friday, April 13, 2012

Visita Iglesia: A Catholic Tradition

Visita Iglesia, meaning church visits, is a tradition that most Filipinos and Catholics alike worldwide observe during Holy Week specifically on Maundy Thrusday.  During this day, Catholics visit churches ranging from to 1 to 14 wherein they meditate, pray the stations of the cross and/or do confessions.

This tradition is something I also do together with either families or friends.  We usually visit churches which are located within a certain area or city.  You see, here in the Philippines churches or chapels can be found in almost every town and some even have more than one, giving the Filipinos no reason not to go to church, which I admit, I am guilty of.

You noticed the word "usually" there?  Yes?  I purposely said that because last week's Visita Iglesia was something else.  We started our 8-hour journey in Manila and ended Tagaytay!  Tagaytay is about 60km or 37miles from Manila - not near if you are doing this tradition, huh?

So, what churches did we visit? Here they are in chronological order...

1.  Nuestra SeƱora de Guia - Ermita Manila 
It has been believed that in the early 16th century, an image of the Virgin Mary was found where this church is now standing. That image was preserved and is now kept inside the church for devotees and visitors can take a look.  Many devoted Catholics believe that the image is miraculous, thus, is visited by hundreds everyday. The church has been declared as the Archdiocesan Shrine of Nuestra Senora de Guia (Our Lady of Guidance) in 2005. [CommuniTrip.Com]


2.  San Miguel Parish - San Miguel, Manila
The first construction of this church took place in 1637 when the Governor General then named Sebastian Hurtado de Corcuera almost got killed in a battle.  The bullet that was supposed to hit him pierced through the image of St. Francis Xavier instead.  In gratitude, he ordered a church be built in honor of St. Michael, warrior angel of God, to which St. Francis Xavier has great love and devotion to. Original structure though is now located at the other side of the Pasig River which is now known to be the Parish of San Vicente de Paul.  1799 marked the construction of the now standing San Miguel Church was initiated by Fray Pedro Malo de Molina.  [Shrines.healthypinoy.com]  


3.  St. Jude Thaddeus - J.P. Laurel, Manila 
St. Jude Parish, according to history, was one the three churches that was ordered to be built in the area to cater to the growing number of Chinese Catholics.  Construction of the presently standing church started in September 1958 and was completed in October 1960.  St. Jude Parish used to be called Espiritu Santo Chinese Parish.  This parish is also known to be the place for devotees with seemingly hopeless and impossible prayers.  [National Shrine of St. Jude Thaddeus]


4.  St. Pio of Pietrelcina Chapel - Libis, Quezon City
This chapel has its humble beginnings as just an office space with an altar.  As many devotees of St. Pio grew, the chapel now can house up to 500 people.  The chapel's facade was inspired by the structure of the Church of Our Lady of Grace in San Giovanni Rotondo, Italy where St. Pio used to celebrate his masses blessed the people and heard confessions. [The Philippine Centre for St. Pio of Pietrelcina, Inc.]


image from St. Pio Center website
One the reasons why I convinced my friends to visit this church is because of the elaborate stations of the cross designs made by the famous director Fits Infante.  Also, I've seen in one of my TV viewings, that stations of the cross in this chapel is done with you literally carrying a cross.

As we approached the chapel, we saw a line of people. First church I have been too (doing Visita Iglesia) with this much people in queue. 


As we near the end of the line, I knew why.  Footwear is checked. Slippers are not allowed probably for safety purposes while other organizers distribute wooden crosses to the visitors. Variety in sizes and weights of crosses are availble but it is the organizer's discretion which cross to give each one.  Their criteria for giving light or heavy cross to someone is something I don't know.  I was given a lighter one, maybe I don't look much of a sinner to them? I really don't know *wink* just got lucky maybe.

Entering the garden where the stations are located, I immediately sensed the solemnity and holiness of the place, reason why I did not take any pictures,  I didn't feel it was appropriate at that time and place. 


5.  Ina ng Laging Saklolo Parish (Our Lady of Perpetual Help) - Tagaytay, Cavite
This might be the least popular church I have visited during this journey, internet article wise that is, for I was not able to find anything to read about the background of this church.  My apologies my dear readers, no history lesson for this one.

image from Google Images

6.  Adoration Convent of the Divine Mercy Chapel - Brent Road, Tagaytay
This chapel is commonly and famously known as the Pink Sisters because of the nuns living in the convent in their pink habits.  Unlike most of the churches, this chapel has the exposed blessed sacrament at the center of the altar below the crucifix.  People visit this place to pray and to see the sisters praying with them - even if they cannot talk to them directly but only see them behind the iron grilles in the chapel.  Petitions are written in a piece of paper and slid into a box allotted for. [About Tagaytay, The Splendor of the Church]

image from About Tagaytay

image from About Tagaytay
and we ended this year's Visita Iglesia at...  

7.  Queen of Angels Chapel - Arnoldus Road, Tagaytay
This chapel is located inside Angel's Hills Retreat and Formation Center which was founded in 1999. [Angel's Hills Retreat and Formation Center] The place is designed to house retreats, as the name suggests, teambuildings and other religious events. 

What interest me the most in this place is their stations of the cross which are located or situated all around the vicinity.   They are, if my calculations are correct, about  5 to 6 meters apart from one another.  Another solemn and quiet place to meditate.

apologies for the not so good picture, taken with a phone cam
It was a tiring but at the same time nourishing experience.  Will do this again next year, but bolder!  Visita Iglesia, the backpacking way!

You might be wondering, where is the food part of this post?  Ahhh! No road trip will be complete without the food, would it?  Will tell you in the next post, I promise!

2 comments:

  1. Thank you for sharing. Lovely post. I have had the chance to enjoy this tradtion with my mom 3 times and it is truly uplifting!

    ReplyDelete

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