Visita Iglesia: Navotas, Malabon, Caloocan, Binondo, Manila

A long tradition among Roman Catholics in the Philippines is the Visita Iglesia during Holy Thursday or Good Friday, or even during the 40-day Lent Season, for some.

This pious activity seeks to visit 7 to 14 churches, each corresponding to the 14 Stations of the Cross, which is another devotional practice in itself. The churches then serve as the stations of the Cross where the prayers for each station is recited in front of the icons that represent the station, either one or two stations per church depending on the participants.

For some, this is also an opportunity to visit other churches aside from the one's where one belongs or are used to attend mass in. 
Other activities done during the Visita Iglesia includes the visitation to the Blessed Sacrament, praying of the Rosary, silent contemplation, lectio divina, or the participation of any activity of the church being visited, either in full or partially. When it comes to masses though, it is recommended that the faithful attend it from start to finish, unless there are plans of joining mass elsewhere.
This year, I visited seven churches from Malabon and Manila, some of these churches I discovered by accident, others were not exactly the first time for me to visit, nonetheless this visit also has their treasures to offer.

The first church that I visited was the Immaculate Concepcion Parish in Concepcion, Malabon City. The parish boasts of a crowned image of the Blessed Mother under the title of the Immaculate Concepcion, as per Papal Bull dated September 16, 1986 by Pope St. John Paul II. The ceremony was led by the late Jaime Cardinal Sin, then Archbishop of Manila, on December 7 1986. 

The church itself was built on 1886, but it was first established in 1607.
Next stop was San Bartolome Parish, which is one of the oldest churches in the Philippines. This was first established on May 21, 1599. The stone structure itself, however, was built in 1622.
This was then followed by a visit to the Cathedral of the Diocese of Kalookan, San Roque Parish.

The church was built on April 8, 1815 and on June 28, 2003 was turned into a Cathedral by Pope St. John Paul II.
The fourth church that I was able to visit was San Jose Parish de Gagalangin along Juan Luna St. in Gagalangin, Tondo, Manila.

After which I proceeded to Divisoria, walked along Ongpin St. to reach the Dominican-ran Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary Parish, which also happens to serve as the Minor Basilica of St. Lorenzo Ruiz of Manila. 
Simply known as Binondo Church, the original structure was built in 1596 and was intended to serve the Chinese converts who are staying or have their business in Binondo.  The church has seen several wars and each time was destroyed and later on rebuilt. 
Several blocks away is Sta. Cruz Church, named such not because its the title of its patron, rather because the church is in the Sta. Cruz District of the city. Its patron is Nuestra Senora del Pilar and was first built by the Jesuits in 1786.
Lastly, I attended the Mass of the Last Supper in Quiapo Church, the Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene or the St. John the Baptist Parish.The church was full packed, mostly by devotees of the Black Nazarene, many of whom came barefoot.
Originally, a structure was built by Order of Friar Minors missionaries in the site but this was destroyed in 1574. In 1588, another church was erected in the site, this time under the patronage of St. John the Baptist. 

The Quiapo Church is famous for the Black Nazarene devotion, a massive procession of which is held every January and is attended by millions of devotees. The church is also very historical with the infamous Plaza Miranda bombing during the martial law years of convicted dictator Ferdinand Marcos. 


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