As a predominantly Catholic country, Holy Week is a significant event for Filipinos during the summer season. It is a week-long celebration that commemorates the passion, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. This annual event is observed in different ways throughout the country, with various traditions and customs.
For Filipinos, the Holy Week is a time for reflection, devotion, and repentance. They express their repentance in various ways, including attending church services, participating in processions, and performing acts of penance such as fasting, abstinence, and apologizing to people they wronged.
One of the popular activities during Holy Week is the Visita Iglesia. Literally translated as “church visitation”, Visita Iglesia involves visiting seven different churches, usually in the evening, to pray and meditate on the Stations of the Cross. The practice is rooted in the Catholic belief that visiting several churches on Holy Thursday or Good Friday helps one gain indulgences or remissions for sins. Now that pandemic restrictions have loosened up, devotees can now participate again in church visitations.
Some of the most frequented churches for Visita Iglesia include the Paoay Church in Ilocos Norte, Caleruega Church in Batangas, Barasoain Church in Bulacan, and the Daraga Church in Albay.
However, if you prefer to do Visita Iglesia within Metro Manila, then you stumbled on the right article! We’ve rounded up a list of seven churches in Metro Manila that you can visit during the Holy Week. Not only that Visita Iglesia is budget-friendly since they are all around the Metro but are also highly accessible via public transportation.
Visita Iglesia Churches in Manila
First off in the list is the Manila Metropolitan Cathedral Basilica or Minor Basilica and Metropolitan Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception. Located in the heart of the Walled City, Intramuros, it is one of the most iconic and historic churches in the Philippines. Four centruies later, this church continues to stand as a symbol of Catholic faith in the country
The Manila Cathedral has a rich history dating back to the Spanish colonial period. The original structure was built in 1581 but was destroyed by fires and earthquakes over the years. The current structure was rebuilt in 1958 and underwent a major renovation in 2012, which restored it to its former glory.
The cathedral’s architecture is a mix of different styles, reflecting the various influences that have shaped the Philippines over the centuries. The façade is inspired by Neo-Romanesque ornate carvings and Byzantine motifs. Heading inside, its main altar features the statue of Immaculate Conception.
San Agustin Church
Built in the 16th century by Spanish conquistadors, the San Agustin Church is regarded as the oldest stone church in the Philippines and is considered a cultural and religious icon.
This Baroque style church boasts intricate frescoes, carvings, and a grand altar. It also has a museum that showcases religious art, artifacts, and objects that date back to the Spanish colonial period.
The church has witnessed many historical events throughout its existence, including the Philippine Revolution and World War II, which both caused significant damage to the structure. However, the church was restored and has since become a popular destination for tourists, historians, and devotees.
Today, the San Agustin Church continues to serve as an important center for Catholic worship in the Philippines, and its historical significance has earned it as one of the UNESCO World Heritage site in Manila. It is also named as a National Historical Landmark in the year 1976.
Quiapo Church, also known as the Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene, is a prominent Roman Catholic church located in the district of Quiapo in Manila, Philippines. The church houses the famous Black Nazarene statue, a life-size image of Jesus Christ carrying the cross, which is believed to have miraculous powers and is venerated by millions of devotees. Quiapo Church is a popular pilgrimage site and a cultural landmark in the Philippines, drawing both locals and tourists alike. The church is also known for its vibrant and colorful atmosphere, with street vendors and performers lining the area around the church.
Also known as the Minor Basilica and National Shrine of Saint Lorenzo Ruiz and Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary Parish, the Binono Church is where the first Filipino Saint, San Lorenzo Ruiz served as a sacristan.
Binondo Church has undergone several reconstructions due to damage from earthquakes and war, but its striking facade and bell tower have remained iconic landmarks in the area. It is a popular destination for Catholic pilgrims and visitors who want to explore Manila’s rich cultural heritage.
Malate Church, also known as Our Lady of Remedies Parish Church, is a Roman Catholic church located in the district of Malate in Manila, Philippines. The church was founded in 1588 by Augustinian friars and is one of the oldest churches in the Philippines. It features Baroque and Renaissance architecture, with intricate carvings and paintings adorning its interiors.
Malate Church is known for its vibrant community and outreach programs, including initiatives for the elderly, the sick, and the marginalized. The church is also popular among devotees of Nuestra Señora de Los Remedios, a miraculous image of the Virgin Mary that is enshrined in the church. It is a significant cultural and religious landmark in Manila and attracts both locals and tourists alike.
San Sebastian Church
San Sebastian Church, also known as the Basilica Menor de San Sebastian, is a historic Roman Catholic church located in the district of Quiapo in Manila, Philippines. It was built in the late 19th century by Spanish architect Genaro Palacios, who used a combination of steel and concrete in its construction. The church is the only all-steel church in the Philippines and is considered as one of the most significant examples of Gothic Romanesque architecture in Asia.
San Sebastian Church is dedicated to Saint Sebastian, the patron saint of athletes, and is known for its impressive stained-glass windows and ornate decorations. The church has survived several earthquakes and wars, including the Battle of Manila during World War II. Today, it remains an important cultural and religious landmark in Manila and is popular among tourists and devotees alike.
Sta. Cruz Church
Santa Cruz Church, also known as the Our Lady of the Pillar Parish Church, is a historic Roman Catholic church located in the district of Santa Cruz in Manila, Philippines. The church was built in during the early 1600s by the Jesuits and is considered as one of the oldest churches in the Philippines. It features Baroque and Neo-Classical architecture, with intricate carvings and paintings adorning its interiors.
Its status was promoted as Archdiocesan Shrine of the Blessed Sacrament by Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle in June 2018.