MANILA — During Holy Week, many Filipino Catholics participate in the "Visita Iglesia" tradition, in which they pray the Stations of the Cross at various churches.
This practice is commonly observed on Maundy Thursday to commemorate Jesus' Last Supper with his disciples.
The term "Visita Iglesia" derives from the tradition of pilgrims making their way to the seven major basilicas in Rome during Lent.
When Christians first arrived in the Philippines, they adapted their beliefs and practices to the local culture. During Visita Iglesia, Filipinos traditionally visit seven churches while contemplating the Stations of the Cross and praying the Our Father, Hail Mary, and The Glory Be.
Visita Iglesia is also an opportunity to spend quality time with family and friends. The practice is frequently performed in groups, allowing participants to socialize and grow closer.
Here are some churches in Metro Manila worth checking out for the Visita Iglesia:
- Nuestra Señora de Gracia Church
- Established by Augustinian Missionaries in 1601, the massive Baroque church is a well-known landmark in Makati. In the busy city, the church stands as an oasis of peace and quiet.
- Quiapo Church
- Also known as the Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene, this church's ebony statue of Christ draws throngs of devotees in its yearly procession through the capital.
- Minor Basilica of San Sebastian
- One of Manila's most well-known churches, the Minor Basilica of San Sebastian can be found in the bustling Quiapo district. Its facade heavily influenced by the Gothic architecture of European churches. Sometimes referred to as the "Steel Church" or "Iron Church," it is the only church of its kind in Asia.
- Malate Church
- The Malate Church, or Our Lady of Remedies Parish Church, has survived dozens of earthquakes and fires since the early 16th century. Known for its stunning stained glass windows and plush furnishings, the church is dedicated to the Virgin Mary's title, Our Lady of Remedies.
- Minor Basilica of St. Lorenzo Ruiz
- This baroque church is situated in the heart of Manila's Chinatown, Binondo. Built in the 16th century to assist Dominican friars in converting the nearby Chinese neighborhood, Lorenzo Ruiz, the first Filipino saint, served as a sacristan at the Binondo Church.
- Sta. Cruz Church
- Also known as the Our Lady of Pillar Church and designated as the Archdiocesan Shrine of the Blessed Sacrament, this Manila church was built in the 1600s.Its facade is an example of Baroque architecture, complete with ornate carvings and sculptural details. The church has also endured numerous catastrophes, such as earthquakes and fires. It is well-known for its regular Eucharistic Benediction.
- Tondo Church
- Known locally as the Santo Niño de Tondo Parish or the Archdiocesan Shrine of Sto. Niño, this church's design features arches and straight lines. It is devoted to the Child Jesus, whose feast day in January is celebrated by the church with a procession of the Santo Niño image through the streets of Tondo.
— Ian Jay Capati