Philippines as a predominantly catholic country has a solemn observation of Holy Week which took place usually during summer time. It is a time of peace, somberness and reflection and coincidentally for some non catholic it is a best time to spend vacation due the long holidays from work. One of the highlights of the event in a week long spiritual celebration is the Visita Iglesia or the Seven Churches Visitation which is traditionally observed every Maundy Thursday until the eve of Black Saturday.
Historically, the Visita Iglesia is observed consistently with its motives especially that it is done during holy week where the season’s message is to reflect, repent and renewed. The seven holy sites (mostly churches, basilicas, shrines and pilgrim sites) to be visited during Visita Iglesia represents seven scriptural events and the first visits to the 7 Roman Basilicas and the Seven Deacons in Jerusalem who were appointed by the twelve apostles.
Here are some suggested sites/churches that are good to visit this holy week for Visita Iglesia. For those who are in Laguna there are some great ancient churches to go that celebrates a solemn Semana Santa and preserve the figure of traditional and historic symbol of faith.
The St. John the Baptist Church of Liwliw, Laguna.
The Liliw Church or Church of Lilio (former name of Liliw) is one of the famous churches in Laguna. Yes it is most loved by tourists and church goers because of its physical appeal and a huge ground space which strategically constructed overlooking the downtown of Liliw. The church as it appears is built with a red brick façade and in baroque architectural style which makes it unique among other churches in the country. It was built centuries ago when its original structure was destroyed by earthquake during 1880.
Saint Bartolomew Parish of Nagcarlan
This church which is made of strongly-ancient materials is a result of the third reconstruction. The first was made of light materials of Nipa and Wood in 1583. During the year 1752 the second construction was purely made with colored brick and stone but was suddenly destroyed by fire in 1781. Now the structure is mainly composed of strong materials but its face which was influenced by the color of the previous constructed materials catch the attention of many. This parish church was founded by a Franciscan Priests in the name of Father Juan De Placencia in 1571. Today it is one of the living historical ancient Parish Churches in the country.
Diocesan Shrine of Nuestra Seniora de los Dolores de Turumba
Pakil church or Saint Peter of Alcantara parish is another name before this unique infrastructure of faith became a diocesan shrine. Yes it is a shrine now and this church enshrine the Our Lady of Turumba – an oil painting on canvass showing the face of the holy mother contorted by pain. Turumba is a Spanish word which means crazed or insane. For many Filipinos this church is very familiar because it is where the most known teleserye Juan de la Cruz was hosted.
San Sebastian Church in Lumban, Laguna
The church of San Sebastian in Lumban, Laguna is an exception to many other ancient churches in terms of structures. This is common to many as the first stone church erected in 16th century. Historically Lumban during the Spanish era was a center of all missionary activities in Laguna Province.
St. Mary Magdalene Church.
In a town of Magdalena in the province of Laguna is another ancient church founded in 1851. The church was named after the name of the town into Saint Mary Magdalene. This historical church is also the most significant landmark of a quiet town of Magdalena. It is made up of stones and bricks with a sandstone façade. This church is located at the town center near the municipal plaza across the municipal hall. Historically, the Filipino hero Emilio Jacinto during the Philippine revolution against Spaniards sought refuge in this church after being wounded in a battle in 1898.
Top 3 suggested sites to visit for Visita Iglesia in Cebu.
Cebu as a center and origin of catholic faith in the Philippines has so many pristine and century old catholic site that is good to see for Visita Iglesia. But when in comes to history significance and convenient these top 3 sites are highly suggested to experience and witness how they uniquely celebrates Semana Santa.
The Monastery of the Holy Eucharist
Birhen sa Simala church as it is commonly known to many is now the most preferred place of pilgrims in Cebu. This is because of its undying history that people receive the miraculous intercession of mother Mary thru answered prayers and petitions. Birhen sa Simala Church is the most solemn place for worship, a majestic and miraculous church that has a thousands of devotees coming in daily. It is located in Barangay Lindogon, Sibonga,in the Southern part of Cebu province.
Patrocinio de Maria Church in Boljoon.
Boljoon Church is one of the oldest Church in Visayas with significant religious artifacts and the historic figure that narrates the history of the place. Boljoon Church or in its old famous pilgrim name as “Church of Patrocinio de Maria” was built in 1599 during the Spanish era. This has been very famous for this is the only pilgrim church in Southern Cebu to which during fiesta celebration, many devotees are coming in to venerate the image of the virgin enshrined in the altar who believed that posses miraculous powers. This church is generally made of corral stone and a clay roof tiles for its roof. This church is founded by the Augustinian fathers during colonial times.
Saints Peter and Paul Church in Bantayan Island.
Bantayan Church is considered as the second oldest church in Cebu so far. This is much known to Catholics as the host of the grandest ever procession during Good Friday. This majestic church has been built since 1839 but the original composition of this parish started in the early 15th century.
This church is a home of many significant events in the history of Bantayan island way back Spanish time. For many times it serves a a hiding place of locals during calamities and war. The Bantayan Church has walls of coral stones just like most of the century-old churches in the country.