Every Holy Week, many Filipinos take the chance to travel or to relax for a whole week at home. But for devout Catholics, it’s the time for prayer, and for many, the perfect time to go on a Visita Iglesia.
The Philippines is ripe with religious destinations. Around Manila alone, pilgrims can visit beautiful churches and shrines to do their Stations of the Cross.
If you’re still unsure where to go for your yearly Visita Iglesia, these destinations can be easily reached from the metro.
1. Monasterio de Tarlac, San Jose, Tarlac
Image credit: Monasterio de Tarlac
Located at Brgy. Lubigan San Jose, Tarlac’s Eco-Tourism Park, Monasterio de Tarlac was constructed to serve as hermitage for monks. Now, it also stands as a popular place of worship for Catholics. The church’s proud white façade is a welcoming sight after a long journey to the province.
There’s also a 30-foot high statue of the Risen Christ, which is reminiscent of Rio de Janeiro’s Christ the Redeemer.
2. Kamay ni Hesus Shrine, Lucban, Quezon
Image credit: JaneGalvez.com
Kamay ni Hesus Shrine located at the foot of Mt. Banahaw in Quezon is not just known for its towering 50-ft statue of the Ascending Christ and 305-step grotto with statues of the Stations of the Cross. It’s also a favourite destination of many Catholics for the healing masses led by healing priest Rev. Fr. Joseph Ayala Faller.
For those looking for a spiritual retreat, Noah’s Ark was constructed to provide sanctuary and guidance to lost or tired souls.
3. National Shrine of the Divine Mercy, Marilao, Bulacan
Image credit: Ramon FVelasquez
Many pilgrims find healing at the flowing water found at the basement of the National Shrine of the Divine Mercy in Marilao, Bulacan. The shrine also has life-sized Stations of the Cross statues, perfect for those doing Visita Iglesia.
The shrine also boasts of the Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes, the Grotto of the Resurrection and the Little Poland Museum, which depicts the life of Pop John Paul II.
4. National Shrine of Our Lady of Peace and Good Voyage, Antipolo, Rizal
Image credit: Ramon FVelasquez
Also known as the Virgin of Antipolo, the statue of the Black Madonna is a wooden image of the Blessed Virgin Mary, brought to the country in 1626 aboard the galleon Almirante. The 17th century image has been attracting devotees since the 19th century, and it is believed to be miraculous. Even during the construction of the church, the statue would mysteriously disappear and would be found on top of a tipolo tree. The statue had been temporarily placed in Cavite and even brought back to Mexico a couple of times, but it’s now in its permanent home in Antipolo, Rizal.
5. Tatlong Krus, Paete, Laguna
Image credit: Lakbay Diwa
On the peak of Mount Humarap in Paete, Laguna, you’ll find three, white, tall crosses, with a majestic view of a small town and Laguna de Bay behind it. It’s a well-known pilgrimage destination among locals. The Tatlong Krus can be reached after a small climb up the hill, and you’ll also pass by the Matabungka Falls along the way.
As the crosses are also seen from the town, it’s a popular landmark of Paete, a town known for the artisan craft woodcarving.
6. Pink Sisters Convent, Tagaytay
Image credit: Marge Espenida
Named after the nuns wearing pink sister uniform, Pink Sisters Convent in Tagaytay is popular among pilgrims. Nuns take turns praying in front of the altar, so there’s always a sister praying 24/7. Visitors can submit prayer request through a dropbox.
For those intending to attend a mass, check out the schedule of their liturgical services.
7. Our Lady of Lourdes Grotto, San Jose Del Monte City, Bulacan
Image credit: Judgefloro
A well-known religious and ecological destination in Bulacan, Our Lady of Lourdes Grotto is a replica of France’s Lourdes grotto. For faith seekers doing Visita Iglesia, the 14 Stations of the Cross are depicted through life-sized statues at Calvary Hill. There’s also a Rosary Hill featuring 155 large beads, and a natural spring known to have healing powers is located below the Our Lady statue.
8. Regina Rica Queen of the Holy Rosary, Tanay, Rizal
Image credit: Ryme26
The astounding 71-foot-tall statue of the Queen of the Holy Rosary is a sight to behold once you enter the compound. Devotees flock the 14-hectare sanctuary managed by Dominican sisters to pray, to contemplate, and to see for themselves the bigger-than-life statue of the Queen. The place of worship has a waterfall, a creek, and an estimate of 10,000 trees, helping devotees commune with God and with nature.
9. Monte Maria Shrine, Alfonso, Cavite
Aside from the Marian shrine itself, the relocated Monte Maria site in Alfonso, Cavite is visited by many because of the mass of the healing priest Father Fernando Suarez. Though the construction is still on-going, it’s a popular place of worship for the sick and persons with disabilities.
10. Banal na Bunduk Dalan Ning Krus, Mt. Arayat, Magalang, Pampanga
Image credit: Banal na Bunduk, Dalan ning Krus
Banal na Bunduk Dalan Ning Krus, or Holy Mountain Way of the Cross, is found at the foot of Mt. Arayat. Life-sized statues depicting the 14 stations of the cross lead the way to the mountain summit. Devotees who seek to pray and to sacrifice can consider this destination.
Bonus: Crucifixion Re-enactment, San Fernando, Pampanga
While most devotees settle with joining processions, attending masses and spending hours praying, some chose the more painful path of re-enacting Christ’s crucifixion.
Mostly men join this practice every Good Friday. They say that they do it as a sign of their gratitude to God or as a form of sacrifice. Though the Catholic Church doesn’t endorse it, the participants have unshaken resolve to do it every year.
What are your plans this Holy Week? Be a Catholic or not, these spots are good destinations for a relaxing long weekend.