The Visita Iglesia or the Seven Churches Visitation is an old Catholic tradition observed by the faithful here in the Philippines. I introduced this tradition to my son Jerald Kervin last year when we went and prayed inside eight churches in the cities of Cebu and Mandaue.
This year, we decided to stick to seven and came out with a short list of churches. We prepared food and lots of water anticipating the eventuality in a hot day holy adventure.
The first church we went was the St. Joseph Patriarch Parish in Mabolo, Cebu City which is just a 5-minute ride from our house. This is where we hear Mass every Sunday so it is just fitting to be the first on our list. The church traces its origins in 1600 to a town named Talamban, now a part of Cebu City. There, a chapel was built in honor of San Jose (St. Joseph). In 1850 when Talamban (Mabolo) became an independent parish, a new wooden church on a masonry base was erected. An 1877 typhoon and an earthquake in 1882 badly damaged the church together with the convent built in 1866. The present day church combines Neo-gothic and classical elements. Its titular is St. Joseph and the feast is on the 2nd to the last Sunday of May.
We then proceeded to the Redemptorist Church located at Queen's Road, Cebu City. This church, founded in 1971 is dedicated to the Blessed Mother of Perpetual Help and is run by the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer more known as the Redemptorist Missionaries. Its titular is Our Mother of Perpetual Help and its feast day is celebrated every June 27.
The third church we went was the modern Sto. Rosario Parish along P. del Rosario St., Cebu City. This churchwas founded in 1933 and its titular is Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary with the feast day on October 1.
As it was already lunchtime, we decided to dine at a nearby restaurant. Here we had rice, fish and veggies. Cold sodas for a very hot day completed our meal. Our next stop was the Basilica del Sto. Niño located at Osmeña Blvd., Cebu City. This is the first and oldest church in the country where the miraculous image of the Sto. Niño (Child Jesus) of Cebu is venerated. Originally known as San Agustin Church, Pope Paul VI elevated it to the rank of a basilica minore in honor of the Santo Niño de Cebu in 1965.
We then proceeded to the Metropolitan Cebu Cathedral located at P. Burgos St. Cebu City. The cathedral is just a block away from the Basilica and is the ecclesiastical seat of the Archdiocese of Cebu. It was on August 14, 1595 when Cebu was established as a diocese. On April 28, 1934, it was elevated as a metropolitan Archdiocese. Its titular is the Holy Guardian Angels and the Immaculate Conception is its patron with the feast day every December 8.
This ended our Cebu City list. Our next destination are the churches in Mandaue City. San Roque Parish in Hernan Cortes St., Subangdaku Mandaue City was the 6th church we went. This church was founded in 1964 and is just a walking distance from where we live. My mom's wake was held here in 1986. Two of my three children were baptized in this church.
The National Shrine of St. Joseph just right across the Mandaue City Hall is our last pilgrimage. This church is said to have been constructed in 1601 by the Jesuits and houses the oldest statue of St. Joseph in the country. A reconstruction was undertaken in 1848 that included the removal of the four pillars supporting the cupola. The church was damaged by a 1922 earthquake and in 1945, a bomb destroyed its roof. In 1996, a full renovation of the church was initiated. The Señor de Cena, consisting of life-size sculptures of Jesus with his 12 apostles seated for "The Last Supper" is among the church's attraction.
After having completed all seven churches, we dropped by at a well-known fast food restaurant and ordered ice cream before hitting for home. Next year, its going to be another holy and solemn adventure as we visit the following churches - Carmelite Monastery, St. Therese Parish, Sacred Heart (Chinese) Parish, Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Parish, Archdiocesan Shrine of San Nicolas Parish, Lourdes Parish and Remedios Parish.