P.S: Sorry guys didn’t take any pictures of the churches I went to because I left the camera at home and I forgot that I had my iPod with me. Haha Pictures not mine got it from Google images, credit all goes to the owner. If you are the owner and want it to be removed from this site, feel free to tell me and I’ll remove it for you.
Hi everyone! In case you are not familiar with Visita Iglesia, Visita Iglesia is one of the most pleasant traditions that Catholics observe during the Lenten season. Every Maundy Thursday, also known as cuaresma or semana santa, it has been a tradition to many Filipino Catholic faithful to do the VISITA IGLESIA which literally means “church visit”. This practice was introduced to us where Christians would visit churches during Maundy Thursday.
Traditionally, seven churches are visited with two stations per visit. Other Christians, with more time and effort, visit fourteen which symbolize the 14 Stations of the Cross. And as a devout Catholic, this practice has been religiously observed throughout the years. During these visits, prayer and meditation are the norms. Each church depends on your liking. Most people prefer it to be 7 like we do.
And with the numerous beautiful churches in our country specifically in Metro Manila, practicing this holy tradition has been an easy task. Another reason why Visita Iglesia is a wonderful tradition to uphold is that you not only get to remember the life of Jesus Christ on the Cross, but also you get to appreciate the beauty of the architectural designs as well as the history of the churches you have the chance to visit. Since I opted to stay in Manila for the holy week, I rather join this tradition as well as a great opportunity to explore Manila while most of the people are flocked in their respective provinces…means less crowd and less traffic. :) With the intense heat during the day, the fan is really a necessity, and of course, plenty of water or any liquid to avoid dehydration. It’s summer and Mr. Sun sure is getting hotter.
In past years, we’ve either concentrated on a specific part of town; visiting churches clustered in that area, or worked our way to a final destination. This year, we went with the latter option – starting in Pasig, Quezon City and making our way to our final stop in Manila.
The following are the churches we have visited for this year’s VISITA IGLESIA (in order of visit):
1st church: Sto. Rosario de Pasig, Rosario Pasig City
When I was still working or going somewhere in Ortigas, I used to pass by this church every single day, but I didn’t have the time to visit it. Finally, I had the chance to pray inside. The crucifix at the altar was veiled with a purple cloth, since it’s a practice to remove or veil crosses during Lent.
2nd church: St. Pio of Pietrelcina, Libis Quezon City
It is located deep within the commercial district of Libis, and literally side-by-side with the tall buildings of Eastwood, is a picturesque little chapel dedicated to Saint Pio of Pietrelcina, more affectionately known as Padre Pio. The chapel is quite unique among the churches that I have visited. They apply a very strict dress code, but they do not turn away people who come dressed less than appropriately. Instead they lend people “sarongs”, for free, with which churchgoers can cover themselves. Also, for people who didn’t wear proper shoes like flip flops or step-in shoes which is not allowed inside they usually ask to be barefooted and leave the shoes in the counter. To avoid exchange of shoes they give this small card with number so that after you pray you can claim your shoes. They also lend real wood crosses with different sizes which will be suitable for men, women, young and adults, to carry on the shoulder, for people who want to go through the Stations of the Cross.
3rd church: Christ the King, Greenmeadows Ave., Quezon City
Upon entering the church, a huge image of Christ the King on the altar will immediately capture your eyes. The image looks comely but nonetheless it is a regal image of Christ, crowned as King and enthroned in a magnificent altar. The parish church is one huge hall, upon entering one will truly appreciate the space inside the church plus the fact that it is well lighted and fully air-conditioned.
4th church: St. John Bosco Church, Makati City
I grew up going to mass here, because it is where my parents had their wedding and had my baptismal too, as well as this church is close to our house when we’re still living in Makati. It is commonly referred to by many as just the “Don Bosco Church”. The highlight of the structure is the huge wooden altar sculpture, which resemble leaves in a star-shaped arrangement. The Church is light and airy, with excellent acoustics due to the impressively constructed waffled ceiling. It was also pleasantly cool because of the many air conditioners that line the church’s circumference, as well as the numerous electric fans mounted on the side aisles.
5th church: St. Andrew Church, Bel-air Makati City
This church architecture to be a bit stuck in time, but this vision of the cross hanging from its high, vaulted ceiling was one that I found to be quite poignant and striking.
6th church: Manila Cathedral or Basilica of the Immaculate Conception, General Luna st., Intramuros Manila
This is one of my favorite churches in Metro; I even imagine myself having my wedding here and walking in its long aisle. Hehe Anyway, from a distance, the church looks open with all the people surrounding it. But when we approached the church, it was closed and the Stations of the Cross were stationed outside where people can pray, the sun was setting and the wind was blowing. I was a bit disappointed because I was not able to see the beautiful cathedral from inside. But, there will always be a next time anyway. We prayed and went our way to the next church which is the San Agustin Church located just a few blocks from the cathedral.
7th church: San Agustin church, General Luna st., Intramuros Manila
While walking towards the San Agustin Church, there were so many food stalls and booths surrounds the side of the road, where you can buy food or stuffs. I was thrilled to see the face of Intramuros where there are still old, beautiful and architecturally designed buildings. It was my first time to see the church. The roads, as well, were still preserved to be made of stones. The Stations of the Cross were perfectly posted in front of the church with purple cloth on each of it. It reminded us of Christ’s sufferings to wash away our sins. As we entered the church, I was so amazed by the architectural design from the ceiling to the altar. A world tradition site at that…the interiors features a classic baroque and historical significance that makes it a splendid site. The exterior of the church, though lacking a bit of charm and beauty, really showed the influence of the Spanish colonization with a touch of images on its wooden doors. After praying and lighting a candle, we stayed for a few minutes more to admire the church. It feels like heaven.
During our Visita, we carry along a booklet which guides us in our reflections. We read the designated reflection on each church we visit. Our route maybe a little too tiring considering the distance, but it is just our little way of paying back, sacrificing, reflecting and doing penance. That’s actually the meaning of holy week, right? After all God is sinless yet suffered a lot more for us. But confession is much encouraged. To think, and thank God for everything that he has done for us. For all the unending blessings He’s showering upon us. It’s just my way to give it all back to Him because that’s all I can do for Him right now. No complaints, just being thankful. :)) It may be a very tiring experience but it is also a very fulfilling one.
I hope that you guys are having a fruitful Holy Week. Thank you Lord for the gift of life, for the gift of wisdom, knowledge and grace and for your unending guidance and blessings to me and my loved ones! :))