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Page added on April 22, 2018

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Visita Iglesia in the Philippines

Visita Iglesia in the Philippines thumbnail

by: C.K.

I have lived in Calgary for over 22 years but for some reason, I’ve never experienced the real essence of Holy Week except for Good Friday.  So this year, I decided to visit Manila just in time for the Holy Week and promised myself that I will do what I’ve been hearing before from other Filipinos which is the VISITA IGLESIA.  So here is a short background of how this tradition during the Holy Week all started.

The Seven Churches Visitation is a pious Roman Catholic Lenten tradition to visit seven churches on the evening of Maundy Thursday. Following the Mass of the Lord’s Supper, the Blessed Sacrament is placed on the Altar of Repose in the church for Adoration. During the Seven Churches Visitation, the faithful visit several churches – sometimes seven, sometimes fourteen, sometimes no set number depending upon the particular practice – to pray before the Blessed Sacrament in each church. The tradition of visiting seven churches on Holy Thursday probably originated in Rome, as early pilgrims visited the seven basilicas as penance.

In the Philippines, the tradition is known as Visita Iglesia. The general practise is to visit seven churches either on Maundy Thursday or Good Friday and recite the Stations of the Cross. The pious and able would double the number of churches to fourteen, while the infirm and elderly usually visit only one or a handful. Until the 1970s, people recited all fourteen stations in every church, but the more recent form is to pray two stations per church.

The more devout would carry a cross to each church, while others consider the ritual an opportunity for sightseeing. An offering is usually made at each church and to the poor as a form of almsgiving. To accommodate the faithful, many Catholic churches during Holy Week remain open until midnight. While traditionally done on Maundy Thursday, after the Mass of the Last Supper, it is now common to perform Visita Iglesia on any day during Holy Week.

Since 2010, a bicycle tour known as the Bisikleta Iglesia has also been organized, where the pilgrimage is conducted by biking on a route covering the seven churches.

These are the 7 churches that I visited for the first time that I was in Manila for VISITA IGLESIA:

  • OUR LADY OF MT. CARMEL CHURCH (Lipa, Batangas).
  • METROPOLITAN CATHEDRAL OF SAN SEBASTIAN (Lipa, Batangas)
  • ST. BENEDICT MONASTERY (Lipa, Batangas)
  • INVENCION DE LA STA. CHURCH (Alitagtag, Batangas)
  • SAN ROQUE PARISH CHURCH (Lemery, Batangas)
  • ARCHDIOCESAN SHRINE OF OUR LADY OF CAYSASAY (Agoncillo, Batangas)
  • BASILICA OF ST. MARTIN DE TOURS (Taal, Batangas)

At the end of the tour, I felt fulfilled that I did what I had planned to do before I left Calgary.  I was able to stand the traffic and the heat during our whole trip ahd saw these churches that are vey significant to each town.  I can say that my trip was well worth it because Holy Week is a very important tradition in our religion as Catholics.  So next time you plan to go back home, think if you would like to have the same experience and for my opinion, you’ll never regret it.

Source for the backgrounder:  wikipedia









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