Since 2011, it has been an annual tradition for me to do Visita Iglesia. Visita Iglesia is a Catholic tradition wherein you got to visit different churches to reflect on Jesus’ way of the cross. From 2011-2012, it was a solitary travel, but this year 3 of my best buddies have decided to join me in this walk of faith.
Since 2 or us are based in Cavite, 1 is in Manila and the other in Laguna, we decided to take 3 Manila churches and then proceed to 4 Laguna churches (2 stations of the cross each).
For the 1st 2 stations, we went to the Archidiocesan Shrine of Jesus, the way, the truth and the life in MOA Complex, Pasay City.
It was not my first time to do Visita Iglesia there as I’ve also been there in 2012. The Shrine houses the Pope John Paull II Youth Center as it was the fulfillment of the late Pope’s dream to have a youth center in the country during his World Youth Day visit in 1995. It was consecrated and dedicated in 1999 by the late Manila Cardinal Sin.
On our 3rd and 4th station we went to the Manila Cathedral in Intramuros, Manila. This Visita Iglesia in Manila Cathedral was my first time but what’s make it more special was, it was also my first time to set foot again in this church after it has been closed for renovation. For 2 years the cathedral has been closed to public and it was only last week that it was opened again to church goers.
Manila Cathedral was originally built in 1581 but the current structure was completed in 1958. It’s official name is Metropolitan Manila Cathedral – Basilica of the Immaculate Concepcion.
Also inside the Intramuros area and nearby Manila Cathedral is the San Agustin Church. This is were we did the 5th and 6th station of the cross.
San Agustin Church is one of the 4 Philippines churches which was declared as UNESCO World Heritage site in 1993. The 1st church constructed in 1571 was made of bamboo and nipa. The 2nd church was made of wood and was constructed in 1583. And the current stone structure was completed in 1607.
After finishing the 3 Manila churches we then travel to Laguna to continue with the remaining stations of the cross. First Laguna church we went to was the San Antonio De Padua Church in Pila, Laguna for the 7th and 8th station. It was really a goal achieved as I always wanted to see this church. Whenever I went back and from from our hometown in Laguna to Manila and vice versa, I always passed by this church onboard the bus, but I never had a chance to see it until this holy week.
San Antonio de Padua Church in Pila, Laguna. It was the first Antonine church in the Philippines founded in 1618. The current structure was built in the early 19th century with the completion of the convent in 1849. The church was declared Diocesan Shrine of San Antonio de Padua by the late Bishop of San Pablo Francisco Bantigue in 2002.
Next after Pila was Pagsanjan, Laguna’s Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish where we did the 9th and 10th station. This all-white church was founded in 1687, the original church was made of nipa hut then later reconstructed in 1690 and was improved in 1853.
The church houses the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe which was a gift from Mexico. It was also dedicated as the Diocesan Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe.
From the Lady of Guadalupe we then proceed to St. Mary Magdalene Church in Magdalena, Laguna for our 11th and 12th station.
The church was constructed for 16 years 1829-1839;1849-1855. The convent of the church houses the Shrine of Emilio Jacinto. It was in this church where Emilio Jacinto sought refuge when he was wounded in the Battle of Maimpis. Jacinto’s blood stains was seen on the floor or the convent and is now protected by glass cover.
What I like about this church is its ceiling. The simple clean design for me is the best ceiling among the Laguna churches I’ve been.
And for our the last 2 stations 13th and 14th, we went to the Liliw Church. This beautiful brick church is formally called St. John the Baptist Church and was founded in 1605. The original church was damaged in 1880 due to a strong earthquake. It was reconstructed and was partly burned in 1898.
It was another meaningful year of walking through Jesus’ way of the cross. Although I have to admit that I’m not that frequent Sunday church goer as I more prefer joining the Sunday TV Mass community, my personal relationship with God never ceases. There maybe times that I’m in question of the church authorities but my Faith is intact that indeed there is one God who always guides and always cares for us. And as I always believe, walk of faith doesn’t always have to be walking with traditions and rituals, it can be a personal journey of connecting and re-connecting with our saviour Jesus Christ.
“Faith is about doing. You are how you act, not just how you believe.” – Mitch Albom