Visita Iglesia: Here are seven churches worth visiting in Cebu City
CEBU CITY, Philippines — There are many ways to do a ‘Visita Iglesia,’ or the traditional visiting of at least seven different churches during Holy Thursday and Good Friday to commemorate the 14 stations of the cross.
There are Catholic organizations and parishes that hold formal Visita Iglesias with carefully crafted itineraries and follow the traditional rituals and prayers.
While these organized Visita Iglesias are always an option, many families will opt to go on their own, especially since the Holy Week is usually also a time for a mini reunion of sorts.
Now for those who cannot afford to go on a provincial route for their Visita Iglesia this Good Friday due to time constraints, they can actually visit several churches in the city that can be done in just hours.
Just bring a Way of the Cross guide and you’re good to go these churches.
Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral
This is the center of the Archdiocese of Cebu. It is located in Barangay Sto. Niño and is accessible by all kinds of transportation.
Parking space is available and the Cathedral can hold up to 2,000 individuals under the limited capacity regulation.
The Altar of Repose, where one starts the prayers for the Way of the Cross, is located on the left side of the main tabernacle, but the stations for the Way of the Cross is located in the parking lot.
It must be noted that the Cathedral is bustling with activity during the Holy Week so expect to see a busy church there.
Basilica Minore del Sto. Niño
The closest church from the Cathedral is the Basilica Minore del Sto. Niño. A staple for many Cebuanos, expect that the Basilica to be crowded on Good Friday though.
Not to worry, because the crowd will not be as big as during Sinulog and the people are generally moving around.
Since parking space is a problem, families may opt to leave their cars at the Cathedral and walk a mere three to five minutes to the Basilica.
The Altar of Repose is located inside the Basilica, and families can take a detour from their Visita Iglesia to pay homage to the Sr. Sto. Niño.
The stations for the Way of the Cross is at the Pilgrim Center, which is large enough to hold hundreds of people all at once.
It should be noted too that the Basilica is very strict with health protocols and the security is also tight.
St. Joseph Parish The Patriarch
The beautiful St. Joseph Parish in Barangay Mabolo is a jeepney ride away from the Cathedral and just a 30-minute drive for those with cars.
It has ample parking space and there are many vendors outside the church gates for the hungry pilgrims.
The Alter of Repose and the Stations of the Cross are inside the Church.
St. Joseph Parish also has ushers around to guide you through your Visita Iglesia experience.
Tucked within Barangay Kamputhaw, the Redemptorist Church may be quite a walk for those taking public transport since they don’t pass through the area.
However, it will be a blessing for those with cars because the church has a lot of parking space.
Parking inside the church is free, parking outside the church may be subject to city parking fees.
The Altar of Repose and the stations for the Way of the Cross are located inside the church so it will be an easygoing trip.
Archdiocesan Shrine of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus
The Archdiocesan Shrine of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus is a Chinese Catholic Church in Barangay Zapatera just beside the Archbishop’s Residence.
It may be also quite a trek for commuters, but for those with cars, it has a huge three-storey parking space.
Unlike other churches, the Altar of Repose is located outside the Church, at the doorway of a chapel on the right side of the main church.
The stations of the Way of the Cross is inside the main church and goes around the interior. Remember, it starts at the altar and ends at the altar.
There are ropes at the center pews to avoid pilgrims from crossing to get to the stations. This makes it easy to spot the one-way movement of pilgrims because they have to walk on the side to get from station to station.
The church is also air-conditioned but only during masses. If one gets a chance to visit and the air conditioning is on, it will be a respite from the heat.
Archdiocesan Shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes
The Archdiocesan Shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes is a pilgrim favorite. Located in Barangay Punta Princessa, the rather modern church is accessible to almost all residents from the South District through regular commuting.
While there is ample space for parking, the parking is often full, so it may be advisable to visit early.
The Altar of Repose and the stations for the Way of the Cross are both located inside the church. However, expect a busy church because it is usually flocked by people.
It is also the only church in this series that has a temperature scanner for pilgrims at the entrance. One must have their temperature checked upon entrance.
Sto. Tomas de Villanueva Church
This relatively smaller church in Barangay Poblacion Pardo is also very accessible for commuters. Unfortunately, parking can be tricky since the church is using a significant portion of the parking space for the carozas.
Still, the hispanic design of the church is worth a visit to get the vibe of how Filipinos during the Spanish Colonial times did their own Visita Iglesias.
The Altar of Repose and the stations of the Way of the Cross are inside the church as well. The Way of the Cross can easily be located because the stations are located at every side entrance.
The church is also surrounded by vendors for a quick snack at any time of the day.
The traditional Visita Iglesia was halted in the past two years when the country was plagued by the COVID-19 pandemic.
This is the first year that churches are open for Visita Iglesia and pilgrims can freely move about with their families.
While it may be exciting to finally be able to do the Holy Week traditions, the public must be reminded to always follow health protocols to enjoy a COVID-free Holy Week.
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