Have you decided on what churches to visit and where you can reflect on the passion of Christ for the Visita Iglesia this Maundy Thursday?
If you still have not chosen them, then here are some churches and chapels that you can include in your itinerary of churches or places of worship to visit for your Visita Iglesia.
But first what is Visita Iglesia?
Visita Iglesia is a centuries-old custom that has been practiced by Catholics during the Holy Week where they visit at least seven churches on Maundy Thursday.
The practice, according to historian Ambeth Ocampo, started in the Middle Ages where Roman Catholic pilgrims visit seven basilicas in Rome as a form of penance for their sins.
The Spaniards during the colonial times brought the custom to the country.
Cebu, according to UCANews.com, is also called the cradle of Christianity in the Far East because European explorer Ferdinand Magellan in 1521 first introduced Christianity here. Today, we can safely say that Christianity still thrives here.
And this can be seen with many Cebuano Christians observing the solemn activities of the Holy Week, with one of these activities being the Visita Iglesia.
This Maundy Thursday, for those, who have yet to decide on what churches they would want to visit, here is a list of seven churches in Metro Cebu and a southern town in Cebu Province that you can consider to visit for this religious activity.
Nuestra Señora de Regla Parish National Shrine (Lapu-Lapu City)
This shrine of the Virgin of the Rule is situated in the heart of Barangay Poblacion in Lapu-Lapu City in the island of Mactan. The Nuestra Señora de Regla or the Virgin of the Rule or the Birhen sa Regla, the patroness of this shrine, is known by numerous devotees and pilgrims as a “miraculous” image.
The start of the devotion to the Birhen sa Regla was traced back to 1735 when it was introduced to residents of then Opon (now Lapu-Lapu City) by an Agustinian monk, who was the first parish priest of Opon.
This Maundy Thursday, one can reflect and listen to the liturgy, inside the church or one can pray the rosary in the chapel at the back of the church where the image of the Birhen sa Regla is placed in a glass casing. However, the image of Birhen sa Regla is still covered in purple cloth, like all images of the church, as a sign of mourning and reflection in this season of Lent.
National Shrine of St. Joseph (Mandaue City)
Just across the bridge from Lapu-Lapu City, in Barangay Centro in neighboring Mandaue City, which is about 4.3 kilometers away from the Nuestra Señora de Regla Shrine, is where the National Shrine of St. Joseph is situated.
According to the oldest record in the parish, the church was founded in the year 1762 by the Jesuits, who brought along with them the image of St. Joseph with the child Jesus, as they preached about the son of God.
And it was declared a shrine in 1999 during the Episcopal Conference or the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines in July that year.
The shrine houses one of the rarest religious relics in the region — the life-sized Senor de Cena (The Last Supper) featuring Jesus Christ and the 12 apostles.
The Visita Iglesia in the shrine starts at 8 p.m. on Maundy Thursday.
Chamber of Peace and Serenity in Cebu (Carmelite Monastery)
The Chamber of Peace and Serenity in Cebu, which is inside the compound of the Carmelite Monastery in Barangay Mabolo, Cebu City is about 4.8 kilometers away from the National Shrine of St. Joseph in Mandaue City.
This place of worship is run by the Carmelite Order in Cebu which was established in 1949.
For this year’s Holy Week, the monastery has set up activities in which civilians can attend while visiting the religious site.
“Naa ta’y Visita Iglesia, kumpisal and then sa Huwebes, naa mi Vigil. Daghan mubisita nato gikan 10 o’clock until 11 sa gabie na siya,” said the Roso Magdadaro, head guard of the Carmelite Monastery.
(We have Visita Iglesia, confession, and then on Thursday, we will hold a vigil. Many of us will visit from 10 o’ clock until 11 o’ clock in the evening.)
Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral (Barangay San Roque, Cebu City)
The Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral, which is situated in Barangay San Roque in the southeastern part of Cebu City, is considered as the seat of the Archdiocese of Cebu. A historical marker at the side of the cathedral said that it was built with wood and nipa in 1595 and had survived the ravages of time and war.
According to the marker, which was unveiled at the Cathedral in 2016, it became the Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral in 1934.
World War II destroyed most of the building with only the front of the church, the belfry and the surrounding fence were left.
In 1950 this was also rebuilt by Archbishop Cardinal Rosales.
And according to My Guide ph, the Cathedral also underwent another P30 million renovation in 2008 under the former late Cebu Archbishop Cardinal Vidal.
For this year’s Holy Week celebration, the Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral on Maundy Thursday will have confessions from 10 a.m. to noon, Mass of the Lord’s Supper at 6 p.m. and the Visita Iglesia at 7 p.m.
On Good Friday, the cathedral will again hold “physically” the “Siete Palabras” or the Seven Last Words, a religious activity, which was halted for three years due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral is 3.5 km away from the Carmelite Monastery in Barangay Mabolo. It is also a 5 to 1o minute walk to the Basilica Minore del Sto. Niño.
Archdiocesan Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe de Cebu (Barangay Guadalupe, Cebu City)
The Our Lady of Guadalupe de Cebu is the official patroness of Cebu City as declared by late Ricardo Cardinal Vidal officially in 2002.
The Archdiocesan Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe de Cebu was built in the early 1970s, under the direction of the then-Archbishop of Cebu, Julio Cardinal Rosales.
The centerpiece of the shrine is a large statue of Our Lady of Guadalupe, which stands at the center of the church. The statue is a replica of the original image Our Lady of Guadalupe that appeared in Mexico, and it is considered to be one of the most beautiful and powerful representations of the Virgin Mary in the Philippines.
The Archdiocesan Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe de Cebu in Barangay Guadalupe is about 4.3 km from the Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral.
Chapel of San Pedro Calungsod (SRP, Cebu City)
If you want one place to meditate, pray and reflect then you can add in your Visita Iglesia itinerary of churches to visit the Chapel of San Pedro Calungsod, which is located at the South Road Properties (SRP) in Cebu City.
The chapel’s New York-based architect, Carlos Arnaiz, described it in a previous interview with CDN Digital as a “sanctuary of stone, sand, and glass from where we can meditate on the changes happening in the world and find strength in our encounter of the inexplicable mysteries of God.”
The chapel is dedicated to San Pedro Calungsod, a Catholic-Visayan migrant, sacristan, and missionary catechist who suffered religious persecution and martyrdom in Guam for his missionary works in 1672.
The chapel was consecrated last November 2012.
Among the sacred pictures located on the main altar are a life-size figure of the Blessed Lady Mary wearing a white gown, and on the other side, St. Joseph, her husband and the patron saint of the universal church.
The chapel is estimated to be around 7 km from the Archdiocesan Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe de Cebu in Barangay Guadalupe, Cebu City.
Archdiocesan Shrine of the Immaculate Heart of Mary (Minglanilla, Cebu)
For the Visita Iglesia, the faithful can also visit the southern Cebu town of Minglanilla, where the Archdiocesan Shrine of the Immaculate Heart of Mary is situated.
The shrine is where the popular Sugat Kabanhawan Festival — the depiction in a play at the town’s gymnasium of Christ’s resurrection and his reunion to his mother.
The event is the highlight of the religious activities of the Holy Week for the archdiocesan shrine in Minglanilla town.
But for Maundy Thursday, one can visit the shrine to reflect, pray and meditate on the passion of Christ, if you add this place of worship to your Visita Iglesia itinerary.
From the Chapel of San Pedro Calungsod at the South Road Properties in Cebu City, the shrine in Minglanilla town is estimated to be at least 11 km from the chapel.
So, Siloys, asa man nga mga simbahan ang inyong bisitahan sa Visita Iglesia sa Huwebes Santo?
(So, Siloys, what churches are you going to visit for the Visita Iglesia this Maundy Thursday?)