As part of the Lenten tradition, Filipinos do the Visita Iglesia or the visiting of churches during Maundy Thursday or Good Friday. Oftentimes, the 7 destinations (or 14 to represent each Station of the Cross) include the usual historic churches like Manila Cathedral and San Agustin in the city of Manila, Santo Domingo Church in Quezon City, and Antipolo Cathedral in the province of Rizal.
There are, however, plenty of other churches in the Philippine metro that you can visit during Holy Week. If, this year, you’d want to plan a new or different Visita Iglesia itinerary, consider going to these churches:
1. Archdiocesan Shrine of the Divine Mercy
Maysilo Circle, Boni Avenue, Mandaluyong City
Located near Mandaluyong City Hall, this church is the first shrine in Asia built in honor of Jesus, King of Mercy. It has a simple architecture, with the roof and cross made to mirror Christ on Mount Calvary. The shrine has 3 main features: the biggest painting of the image of the Divine Mercy that measures 6×3 meters, the carillon bells that were manufactured from Belgium, and the bone relic of Blessed Faustina Kowalska.
The Archdiocesan Shrine of the Divine Mercy is one of the designated pilgrim churches for the Jubilee of Mercy that began on December 8, 2015 and will conclude on November 20, 2016.
2. San Felipe Neri Church
Boni Avenue corner Aglipay Street, Mandaluyong City
Named after the Patron Saint of Rome, this is considered the oldest church in Mandaluyong City. The Romanesque-style stone edifice was built in 1863 and ran by Spanish friars. Characterizing the church are its facade with a semicircular arch entrance and twin bell tower with pyramid roofs. Inside, you will find not only an image of San Felipe Neri at the altar but also the relic of the saint, said to be a part of his body near the heart.
3. St. Francis of Assisi Parish
St. Francis Street corner Shaw Boulevard, Mandaluyong City
St. Francis of Assisi was formerly a modest church at the first floor of Lourdes School in Mandaluyong. As the 500-capacity chapel became too small for the congregation, the Capuchin Franciscans constructed a bigger church building, which was inaugurated in 1969. Today, it stands as the center of the parish’s spiritual life; the cradle of faith, hope, and charity; and the symbol of the advent of salvation in Christ.
4. EDSA Shrine
Ugong Norte, Quezon City
Its official name is Shrine of Mary, Queen of Peace, Our Lady of EDSA. The church was built in 1989 to commemorate the 1986 People Power, the bloodless revolution that overthrew then president Ferdinand Marcos.
The structural design of the church was created by renowned Filipino architect Francisco Mañosa, with preparatory work from William Coscolluela and National Artist Leandro Locsin. Virginia Ty-Navarro sculpted the bronze image of Mary, and the 14 Stations of the Cross found around the plaza was rendered in bronze by National Artist Napoleon Abueva.
5. Santuario de San Jose
Buffalo corner Duke Streets, East Greenhills, Mandaluyong City
Run by the Oblates of St. Joseph, this church is designated as the shrine of St. Joseph the Patriarch, husband of Mary. It boasts a modernist architectural style, with interiors accentuated with gold and wood, plus stained glass windows. Near the entrance is a grotto where churchgoers can rest and meditate.
6. Santuario del Santo Cristo Parish Church
F. Blumentritt Street, San Juan City
This is also called the Church of San Juan del Monte. Built around 1602 by the Dominicans, the Baroque-style church has seen numerous historical events unfold, from the Chinese insurrection of 1639 to the Philippine Revolution in 1898. Among its main features are the 8 saints cast in concrete found in each niche of the entrance, the 2 church bells that came all the way from Spain, and the miraculous image of the Santo Cristo.
Like the Archdiocesan Shrine of the Divine Mercy, Santuario del Santo Cristo is one of the pilgrim churches for the Jubilee of Mercy.
7. Immaculate Conception Cathedral
Plaza Rizal, Malinao, Pasig City
Founded in 1572 by the Augustinian Missionaries, this Baroque-style church is the first Marian parish in the Philippines. It was originally consecrated to the Visitation of our Lady before it was changed to the Our Lady of Immaculate Conception, the patroness of the Augustinians, in 1587. Presently, the cathedral is the seat of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Pasig.
When planning your Visita Iglesia, it’s best if the churches you are going to are accessible from where you’re staying. Near the churches listed above is Lancaster Hotel Manila along Shaw Boulevard in Mandaluyong City, which is currently offering the Holy Week Treat. With this Lent hotel promo, guests staying from March 21 to 27, 2016 pay as low as PHP 2,999 a night, depending on the room type chosen. The Holy Week Treat comes inclusive of buffet breakfast for 2 (except for the Three Bedroom Suite, which includes buffet breakfast for 3), free Wi-Fi Internet access, 10% discount voucher from Royal Lancaster Cafe, and discount at Piesa Accessories.
Make your Lenten vacation more meaningful by embarking on a Visita Iglesia and choosing Lancaster Hotel Manila as your jump-off point and place of rest. Visit the website of this hotel in Mandaluyong or its Facebook page for more details on accommodation and ongoing promos.