VISITA IGLE­SIA Text: Rachel Kwek

THREE SITES FOR Dur­ing Holy Week, Filipinos prac­tise Visita Igle­sia — the act of vis­it­ing and pray­ing in at least seven churches that was in­tro­duced to the Philip­pines by Au­gus­tinian mis­sion­ar­ies in the 1560s. Asian­geo­graphic takes a look at three pop­u­lar

Asian Geographic - - Front Page -


Tar­lac, Cen­tral Lu­zon Perched atop Mount Res­ur­rec­tion, part of the Zam­bales Moun­tain Range is Monas­te­rio de Tar­lac – home of the Relic of the Holy Cross. It was en­shrined in the chapel in Jan­uary 2007 in a cer­e­mony of­fi­ci­ated by Car­di­nal Fer­nando Filoni, the then pa­pal nun­cio to the Philip­pines. The cross is be­lieved to be one of three used in Je­sus’ cru­ci­fix­ion that Saint He­lena ex­ca­vated in Jerusalem. Pil­grims can touch it at 3pm on Sun­days and 10.30am on other days.

Con­structed for use as a her­mitage for monks, the monas­try is now a pop­u­lar place of wor­ship for Catholics. Its founder Rev­erend Archie Cortez de­sired a place where the new com­mu­nity of be­liev­ers known as Ser­vants of the Risen Christ could ded­i­cate them­selves to a life of prayer and soli­tude, and shared this with the then gover­nor, who later granted a piece of land for this pur­pose. Its foun­da­tion was laid in 2000 and her­mitages for the monks were com­pleted three years later. Be­sides a nine-me­tre-high statue of Je­sus, a 12- room dor­mi­tory and a colum­bar­ium are also built in the com­pound. Holy Week, when spe­cial ser­vices and rit­u­als are held, is a pop­u­lar time for pil­grims to visit.


OUR LADY OF LOUR­DES GROTTO Bu­la­can, Cen­tral Lu­zon An ex­act replica of Lour­des Grotto in France, this well-known re­li­gious venue fea­tures a re­con­struc­tion of the 14 Sta­tions of the Cross with life-size stat­ues and Rosary Hill with 155 huge con­crete beads. Opened in 1965, it was built by the Guan­zon fam­ily as an act of thanks­giv­ing after Anita Guidote-guan­zon was mirac­u­lously cured from can­cer after pil­grimag­ing to Lour­des in 1961. The pri­vately owned prop­erty is now run by the el­dest child of Anita, who passed away in 1990. It is also known for a spring that runs below the statue of Our Lady of Lour­des whose wa­ter is be­lieved to have heal­ing pow­ers.


Pam­panga, Cen­tral Lu­zon Lo­cated at the foot of Mount Arayat, this is a pop­u­lar site where lo­cal Chris­tians like to visit, es­pe­cially dur­ing Holy Week. It is the brain­child of Sorop­ti­mist In­ter­na­tional (SI) of Ma­galang, a vol­un­tary or­gan­i­sa­tion of women from 21 coun­tries founded in 1921 to bet­ter the lives of other women. Ba­nal na Bunduk Dalan Ning Krus draws pil­grims from the Philip­pines and be­yond with its life-sized stat­ues that repli­cate the Sta­tions of the Cross, in­clud­ing a 12-me­tre- tall statue of Christ, erected in 2015, which marks the 14th sta­tion. Mov­ing se­quen­tially from one sta­tion to the next takes you on a 1.6-kilo­me­tre trek to the sum­mit, where you can get a bird’s-eye view of Pam­panga. ag

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