For the past few years, our family have been doing the visita iglesia as our annual family tradition every Holy Week. We have visited churches in the provinces around Metro Manila, like in the provinces of Laguna, Batangas, and Quezon. We also started the tradition while we were still living in Singapore. And this 2017 we have decided to go up to the northwestern part of Luzon. We drove north for around 12 hours to proud provinces of Ilocandia to visit its century old churches.
Ilocandia basically is group of provinces at the northern part of Luzon where the Ilocanos abound. For this visita iglesia, we are visiting the twin provinces of Ilocos Norte and Ilocos Sur. On a side trip we have also visited some famous spot in these provinces like in the cities of Vigan, Laoag, Paoay, and Pagudpud.
Like in our past visita iglesias, we it during Good Fridays. We started around 8am from the city of Candon in Ilocos Sur. In every church that we visit, we read a set of prayers for the visita and for the way of the cross. Again, this Catholic tradition commemorates the passion and Christ’s way to Mount Calvary to be crucified.
Well traditionally Visita Iglesia is done by visiting seven churches while reciting the stations of the Cross. But this year, after our visita iglesia in Laguna, the day after we thought of visiting another church. Well eventually we ended up into visiting two churches in the province of Batangas. Both churches has miracles related or associated to it.
The first one, we visited the San Pio de Pietrelcina Shrine in the town of Sto. Tomas. Well, this is my second time to visit this church. This parish is relatively new yet this has become quite famous lately due the regular healing mass being done here every 23rd of the month. Also this also made famous the the healing masses performed by Father Fernando Suarez, a famous healing priest.
This parish started from a small chapel located on the same grounds and this was dedicated to St. Pio de Pietrelcina, a priest who experienced a phenomenon called stigmata, wherein he showed wounds and marks that Jesus Christ has suffered form His crucifixion.
About a month back, Catholics around the world celebrated once more the passion and death of the Christ. This is in the season of Lent. And just as what my wife and myself did in Singapore back last year, we once more go on a Visita Iglesia. Again Visita Iglesia is a Catholic tradition of visiting 7 churches while praying. Along the way, the Way of the Cross is commemorated.
This year we did our visita iglesia on Good Friday as I’m working on night shift. And this year, my daughters, my wife’s sisters and nieces tagged along with us. We also have a vehicle to use and we are visiting churches from different towns in Laguna province.
We started our visita iglesia from the city of Calamba at around 9am. With the itinerary that I have set, we drove first to the furthest in our list. We recited 2 Stations of the Way of the Cross for each church we visited.
Visita Iglesia (Church Visits) has been a tradition among Filipino Catholics. Every year on Maundy Thursday during the Lenten Week, Catholics visits seven churches and perform the Stations of the Cross prayers. Some would visit only one church and pray the Stations of the Cross.
I remember back when I was younger that we used to join processions where we do the Stations of the Cross in our village. And in my teens, we used to do a 2 hour walk to the Shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes Basilica (better known as the Grotto Church) in San Jose Del Monte City in Bulacan province. We would walk starting midnight going there and we would pray the stations there together with hundreds of Catholics visiting the shrine too. Some Filipino Catholics in Manila would hike up to the National Shrine of the Our Lady of Peace and Good Voyage (a.k.a. Antipolo Cathedral) in hills of Antipolo in Rizal province.