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Freeman Cebu Lifestyle

Seven Churches to Visit in Cebu City

Carlo Rivera - The Freeman

CEBU, Philippines – The Visitas Iglesias - which literally translates as Church Visits - is an important Holy Week tradition, where Catholic devotees visit and say prayers in at least seven separate churches. This is usually accomplished in one day, particularly on Maundy Thursday, although it may actually take days until before Easter Sunday if the churches to be visited are far apart.

These Holy Week church visits are said to be originally meant to honor the Blessed Sacrament. But the practice has since developed into a form of pilgrimage and meditation, as well as for seeking penance for one's sins. Superstition even has it that a devotee's petition for favors would be granted upon completion of a Visitas Iglesias - or simply Visita Iglesia, as it is more popularly called.

There are other origin theories to the religious activity. Among them is of early Christian communities of the Roman Empire commemorating the suffering and death of Jesus in seven parts. When Christianity became the official religion of the Roman Empire under Emperor Theodosius I, the practice evolved to its current form of visiting seven churches.

There were seven major basilicas founded in Rome at the time, among which were those believed to hold the tombs of prominent martyrs like St. Peter and St. Paul.  A pilgrimage to all of these basilicas then emerged among the faithful. The practice soon spread to other parts of the Roman Empire, and became associated with the Holy Week as a form of penance for sins.

Like all things Catholic, the Visita Iglesia idea was brought to the Philippines via the Spanish colonists, particularly through Augustinian missionaries in the 1560s. The practice started in the country during the early Spanish period. The visits were more difficult to complete then, as there were only a few churches at the time, and great distances separated settlements from each other.

This problem has persisted even to this day. In some remote rural communities today, devotees avoid the big trouble of having to travel to the next town or city by entering, praying, and re-entering their local church at least seven times. In other areas, Visita Iglesia has become a tourist attraction, as visitors find it a good chance to visit old colonial churches and cathedrals across the country.

In Cebu, the so-called Cradle of Christianity in Asia, the tradition of Visita Iglesia is very much alive. As early as Palm Sunday, devotees young and old already start gearing up for the yearly activity, making sure they don't come short of seven churches to visit. There's an itinerary that starts at the city's San Nicolas district and ends at the Capitol Site:

San Nicolas de Tolentino Parish Church

San Nicolas Proper

This church in Barangay San Nicolas traces its founding back to the Spanish conquest over 400 years ago, to the time of Miguel Lopez de Legazpi. The San Nicolas de Tolentino Parish Church served what was then the town of San Nicolas, also known as Cebu el Viejo or old Cebu, which was a settlement designated purely for Cebuano natives. The very first San Nicolas Church was built between 1787 and 1804 under the supervision of Fray Ambrosio Otero, but it was destroyed by aerial bombing during World War II.

Basilica del Santo Niño

Osmeña Boulevard

The Basilica del Santo Niño was founded in 1565. It is the oldest Roman Catholic church in the country, established on the spot where the image of the Santo Niño de Cebu, a statue depicting the Child Jesus, was found in 1565 by Spanish explorers led by Miguel Lopez de Legazpi.

 Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral

Mabini Street

The Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral is the ecclesiastical seat of the Metropolitan Archdiocese of Cebu.

Santo Rosario Church

P. del Rosario Street

Named after its patron "Our Lady of the Holy Rosary," the Sto. Rosario Church is one of the busiest in Cebu City. It was completed on August 22, 1933.The structure underwent its third renovation in 2008 in time for its 75th founding celebration. An image of the church's patron was added to its facade during the renovation.

The Archdiocesan Shrine  of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus

D. Jakosalem Street

More popularly known as Sacred Heart Church, the parish started in 1952 as Our Lady Queen of China Parish, established by the late Julio Cardinal Rosales, D.D. for the Chinese Catholics in the city. On its 60th anniversary on May 10, 2012, Archbishop Jose Palma, D.D. made the Sacred Heart Parish an Archdiocesan Shrine of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus.

Redemptorist Church

Queens Road

The Redemptorist Church is a church dedicated to the Blessed Mother of Perpetual Help. It is run by the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer also known as the Redemptorist Missionaries.

Our Lady of the Sacred Heart Parish

Escario Street

Also known as Capitol Parish, the church is the Our Lady of the Sacred Heart Parish.  It has a low ceiling inside, with walls decorated with stained glass art.

References: eye-in-the-blue-sky.blogspot.com: philstar.com: dbgg1979.com: basilicastonino.org.ph: wikipedia.com: mycebu.ph; rappler.com

ATILDE CEBU CEBU METROPOLITAN CATHEDRAL CHURCH HOLY WEEK MIGUEL LOPEZ ROMAN EMPIRE SAN NICOLAS SANTO NI STRONG VISITA IGLESIA
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