Every Maundy Thursday, my family practices the tradition of Visita Iglesia (Church Visits). It involves visiting different churches. Some people would visit one, seven, or even fourteen churches to pray the stations of the cross. For us however, we usually visit seven. We would spend the whole day travelling and praying while taking turns at each station to lead the prayer and reflection of Christ’s suffering.
For last week’s visita, my family went to nearby churches in Rizal and Quezon City. We usually start very early in the day and end before evening so that by the time we go home we could have time for confession, prayer, and television specials about the Holy Week.
The activity has been our practice for as long as I can remember. Older family members have been doing it too when they were younger. Regardless of where we were, when it is Maundy Thursday (may it be in some province of in another country), we would pray the stations of the cross.
This for me has been good bonding activity, learning experience, and most of all time for reflection and reconnection with God.
I documented the seven churches we visited this year and took these sketch photos as a tribute to the old Manila Postcards like this:
1. St. Ursula Parish Church. Binangonan, Rizal (1792-1800)
This church took roughly 8 years of construction. It was handled by different religious orders from the Franciscans, Jesuits, Augustinians, and Columbans. Originally, Binangonan was part of Morong but because of the increasing number of religious converts, this church was constructed. They eventually made martyred St. Ursula the patroness of the parish.
2. Saint Clement’s Church. Angono, Rizal. (1877-1967)
St. Clement’s church is located at the heart of Angono, Rizal. It was dubbed as “the Arts Capital of the Philippines” since it is the home of Philippine National Artist for Music Lucio D. San Pedro, and National Artist for the Arts, Carlos “Botong” Francisco. This church is known for having a rich history from its humble beginnings as a small hacienda’s visita to a big parish church that can accomodate hundreds. It is interesting to note that since Angono is located near the mountains and Laguna de Bay, there was a time when this church had two patron saints: Saint Isidore de Labrador, for the farming communities living near the mountains and Saint Clement for Mariners and Fisherfolk.
3. Saint John Baptist Church. Taytay, Rizal. (1630)
This church was built in 1630 and is considered as the second stone church built outside manila. What I like about this church was how it was sited at the highest point of the town. I can see most of Taytay from it. In its vicinity is the town’s old city hall, a police station, the public market, a school, and an old derelict mansion of taytay’s haciendero. Most of the original church interior was destroyed but it was still able to maintain its fabulous facade with different statues of Saint John the Baptist and the Vatican’s seal.
5. Cubao Cathedral of the Immaculate Concepcion. Cubao, Quezon City. (1950)
The Cubao Cathedral is the seat of power of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Cubao. The church was initially a humble parish church constructed by the Society of the Divine Word (SVD) in honor of Our Lady of the Immaculate Concepcion before it became the diocese’s main seat of office.
I really love this church because of its architecture. It has a lot of space for quite reflection and the area around it was not as busy as some of the other churches in Manila.
The church has a very tall belfry and an imposing facade with intricate windows and glass.
My favorite part was its interiors flanked left and right by blue and white flags with Mama Mary’s insignia. The inside was very vibrant. It has a lot of windows and a very tall ceiling that gave it a dimension of space. The church’s ceiling reminded me of the Vatican’s .
There was also a small grotto at the church’s side with Our Lady of Immaculate Concepcion’s statue. I find it similar to the one I pray to every morning at the Ateneo. Look at the dome above Mama Mary!
5. Shrine of the Divine Word. Christ the King Mission Seminary, Quezon City. (1934)
This church is inside the Christ the King Mission Seminary in Quezon City. It has a very modern design that first served as a chapel for seminarians of the Society of Divine Word. This religious order handles most of the churches in this area of Quezon City and has been in the area since the American colonial period.
The shrine has a beautiful curved altar with long thin windows facing the sprawling grounds of the seminary.
6. Our Lady of Mount Carmel Shrine. New Manila, Quezon City. (1964)
Our Lady of Mount Carmel’s shrine was constructed in 1964 by the Carmelite Order in veneration to our lady of the brown scapular. This is the second shrine dedicated to our lady in the Philippines. The first shrine and original image is found at St. Sebastian’s Basilica in Quiapo Manila.
7. Sanctuario del Santo Cristo Parish Church. San Juan City. (1774)
The original church was built between 1602-1604 by the Dominicans. The present structure however was finished by the year 1774. It is a fine example of Colonial church architecture. It is also good to note that the church has served as a hiding place of the Katipunan during the 1898 Philippine Revolution. The Confraternity of Santisimo Cristo de San Juan del Monte since 1648.