Check out these breathtaking churches for your Visita Iglesia trip this Holy Week

March 27, 2018

News & Lifestyle section of Dad On The Move Family Travel Blog.

One of the age-old traditions that most Filipinos practice up to now is the Visita Iglesia or the visitation of churches, which is said to have originated in Rome. Seven churches are typically visited during Maundy Thursday in commemoration of Jesus’ Last Supper with the Apostles. The 14 Stations of the Cross – the commemoration of Jesus Christ’s last day on Earth – are completed in those seven churches.

Check out these breathtaking churches for your Visita Iglesia trip this Holy Week

Here is a list of beautiful churches that you can consider for your Visita Iglesia:

Sta. Ana Church

Sta. Ana, Pampanga

To get here, drive through North Luzon Expressway then through San Simon Exit. Drive straight following the main highway until you reach Sta. Ana town. The church is just across the public market.

Sta. Ana Church, Pampanga

Sta. Ana Church bears a striking resemblance to Binondo Church in terms of architecture; beautiful and grand. Construction of the church began in 1853 under a certain Fr. Ferrer and was continued by Fr. Lucas Gonzalez until Sta. Ana Church was completed.

Sta. Ana Church stands as a witness to the rich history of the town as well as to the resilience and faith of the townsfolk.

Sta. Catalina Church

Arayat, Pampanga

Sta. Catalina Church is located in Arayat, Pampanga. From Sta. Ana town, drive straight to the town of Arayat, which is still in the province of Pampanga.

Sta. Catalina Church, Arayat

Sta. Catalina Church is a Renaissance-style edifice located in the town proper. The church was constructed starting in the 1700s.

Arayat is one of the oldest communities in the province of Pampanga. It was established along the fertile banks of the Rio Grande de Pampanga (Great Pampanga River) and is most known for its famous landmark — Mt. Arayat, an extinct stratovolcano that is also a national park and a popular hiking destination.

The church was named in honor of Sta. Catalina de Alejandria (St. Catherine of Alexandria), an important virgin martyr who was killed by ancient pagan rulers because she refused to give up her Christianity. Legend had it that when her body was discovered in Mt. Sinai centuries after her death, it had growing hair and issued out a stream of healing oil.

San Isidro Labrador Church

Arayat, Pampanga

From the Arayat town proper, drive to the main highway and proceed to the direction going to Nueva Ecija. San Isidro Labrador Church (St. Isidore the laborer), named after the patron saint of farmers, is located along the highway in Barangay Kaledian (Camba). It was near the border between Nueva Ecija and Pampanga.

San Isidro Labrador Church, Arayat

St. John Nepomucene Church

Cabiao, Nueva Ecija

The St. John Nepomucene Church is located at the town proper of Cabiao in Nueva Ecija. The Jesuit Missionary founded the visita of Cabiao from the years 1765 to 1767 and was elevated as the Parish Church of St. John Nepomucene upon the approval of the Augustinian missionaries during the time when Cabiao was declared an autonomous town.

St. John Nepomucene Church, Cabiao

The Parish was named in honor of John Nepomucene, a Czech saint and priest who was also known as the martyr of the confessional. When he was young, John was cured of a disease through the prayers of his parents. They were so thankful to God that they dedicated him to lifelong service to the Church.

San Isidro Labrador Church

San Isidro, Nueva Ecija

San Isidro Labrador Church stands behind the town plaza. A small yet beautifully constructed building, the San Isidro Labrador Church is made of bricks, reminiscent of the olden times when those materials were the most widely-used building materials. San Isidro Labrador Church is best distinguished by its two belfries.

San Isidro Labrador Church, Nueva Ecija

Outside the church, two ancient bells are displayed on separate brick pedestals. These are called the M.R.P.F. Paulino Escalada 1836 bells. Fr. Paulino Escalada of the Order of St. Augustine supervised the construction of some of the Augustinian buildings in Nueva Ecija.

San Isidro Labrador (St. Isidore the Laborer) is the town’s patron saint. He was born in Madrid, Spain, and was a farm worker. It was said that there were many miraculous happenings during his life in the farm, such as his divine visions. Some of his colleagues also believed that angels sometimes helped him with his farm chores. St. Isidore was canonized in 1622 and is the patron saint of farmers.

Church of the Three Kings

Gapan, Nueva Ecija

The Church of the Three Kings is located in the city proper of Gapan. Augustinian friars administered the construction of the church from 1856 until its completion in 1872. It was Byzantine in style with walls made of limestone and bricks. The church has a central dome with a painting of the Holy Trinity, an artwork made in the early 1900s by local painter Isidoro Samonte.

Church of the Three Kings, Gapan

The image of the Virgen La Divina Pastora is housed inside the church. The Virgen La Divina Pastora is the focal point of the Marian devotion in Central Luzon.

San Antonio Abad Church

San Antonio, Nueva Ecija

The San Antonio Abad Church is located in the small, quiet town of San Antonio. The church was Augustinian-built and was first constructed in 1848 by Father Juan Tombo (OSA) but it was destroyed by an earthquake more than three decades after. In 1882, it was rebuilt by Father Mariano Gil (OSA), the priest who discovered the existence of the Katipunan. The old church was damaged during the 1898 Philippine Revolution. It was repaired thereafter and in 1954, the bell tower was renovated by Fr. Florentino Guiao.

San Antonio Abad Church, Nueva Ecija

The 1990 earthquake also brought great damage to the church with its thick walls almost yielding to the big cracks. Over the next few decades, repairs have been made to the church which gave it its present look.

Minor Basilica of Our Lady of the Holy Rosary of Manaoag

Manaoag, Pangasinan

The Our Lady of Manaoag Church may be out of the way from the earlier churches I mentioned but it is worth a visit if you are coming from Manila.

Minor Basilica of Our Lady of the Holy Rosary of Manaoag

The history of the present Church goes as far back as the 1600s when Augustinian missionaries established the Chapel of Sta. Monica (the old name of Manaoag) at the site of the present cemetery. The Augustinians, however, eventually turned over the administration of the diocese to the Dominicans.

Threats from neighboring tribes ultimately forced the friars to transfer the Church to its present site on top of a hill. The construction of a larger Church began a hundred years later in the 1700s, and was expanded over the next two centuries.

Inside the Church is the 17th-century ivory statue of the Virgin Mary carrying the child Jesus, conferred with the title Our Lady of the Holy Rosary of Manaoag. Historical records show that the statue was brought to the Philippines from Spain via the Manila galleon from Acapulco, during the early 17th century by a priest named Juan de San Jacinto.

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