In the observance of Lent, Catholics never fail to visit different churches as their panata or vow to God as a sign of one’s faith. The Visita Iglesia is an ancient Roman Catholic tradition to visit seven churches on the evening of Maundy Thursday. Most devotees visit seven to fourteen churches to pray before the Blessed Sacrament.
This year, I went with my former colleagues and we visited fourteen churches in thirteen municipalities in the south of Cebu. It was a whole new experience for me on every stop and got to see old churches from the other side of Cebu away from the busy streets of the city.
Here’s my first experience doing a Visit Iglesia Round South Cebu 🙂
Station 1: The Last Supper
“Consider how Jesus, in obedience to the will of the Father, chose to be the bread of life and the cup of wine poured upon us for our salvation.”
Church: Sta. Ana Church
The Sta. Ana Church of Barili was founded in 1614 and is the only parish in Cebu that is dedicated to St. Anne, the mother of the Virgin Mary.
The church stands at the end of a street lined with old trees. A beautifully wrought statue of Santa Ana is prominently placed at the church façade, just below the pediment.
The Barili church’s status was elevated in 2005 as a Diocesan Shrine as declared by then Cebu Archbishop Ricardo Cardinal Vidal.
Station 2: The Agony in Gethsemane
“Consider Jesus praying at the Garden of Gethsemane with his disciples all asleep. Yet, he still responded, ‘Not my will but your will be done.’”
Church: St. Francis of Assisi Church
St. Francis of Assisi Parish Church was constructed in 1854 when the Dumanjug Mission Post was made into a parish. It is the center of the faith of the people of Dumanjug.
The parish church is noted to be one of the few church structures in the country that was designed, accomplished, managed, and completed by the natives. The materials used were limestone, sea coral stones, and a native black wood called the Balayong, which was easily procured in the area at that time. The church was completed in 1864.
St. Francis of Assisi Church is one of the attractions of the town due to its heritage and historical significance.
Station 3: Jesus is Condemned to Death
“Consider how Jesus, after having been scourged and crowned by Pilate to die on the cross.”
Church: Our Lady of Sorrows Parish
Our Lady of Sorrows Parish was established on June 17, 1881, by Bishop Martin Alcocer.
Station 4: Jesus is Scourged and Crowned with Thorns
“Consider how Jesus was tortured and have the pain of countless lashes that hit his body. Crowned with thorns and not with gold, he tumbled himself and took upon his shoulders the punishment which was really meant for us.”
Church: St. Augustine Church
Saint Augustine Church was built as a dedication for their patron saint, St. Augustine de Hippo.
Station 5: Jesus Carries the Cross
“Consider how Jesus, in making his journey with the cross on his shoulders, thought of us, and for us offered to his Father the death he was about to undergo.”
Church: San Juan Nepomuceno Church
The ruins from what’s left of the San Juan Nepomuceno Church which was established as a parish in 1852. It was a stone church that was named after its patron saint, St. John Nepomuk, a saint of the Czech Republic.
Due to the natural deterioration of the church brought about by storms, earthquakes, and rust of time throughout the years of existence, the church was condemned in 2005.
The new church was constructed a few meters from the original church which only left with its façade for the people to see and wonder about the old church.
Station 6: Jesus Falls
“Consider how Jesus falls thrice. His flesh was torn due to the soldier’s whipping, he had lost a great quantity of blood which made him so weak and could hardly walk, thus he fell several times in his way for our redemption.”
Church: St. James Parish Church
Badian was separated as a parish from Barili in 1825 under the advocacy of Santiago de Apostle. Its church is unique compared to other churches in the island province with its squat and unusual porticos façade with four quadrilateral columns supporting a triangular pediment.
The original belfry, now built at its side, used to sit atop the pediment but was taken down in 1990 upon the advice of NHI to ease pressure on the two free columns. The church still has its original and beautiful wooden retablo.
Station 7: Simon of Cyrene Helps Jesus Carry the Cross
“Consider how the Jews, seeing Jesus on the point of expiring, feared that he would die on the way. So they asked Simon the Cyrenian to carry the cross behind our Lord.”
Church: St. Francis Xavier Church
The town church is one of the oldest churches in the entire province of Cebu. It was built in 1857 and its structure faces the seaside town park, the Tañon Strait, and the beautiful island of Negros.
Station 8: Jesus Meets the Women of Jerusalem
“Consider how those women wept with compassion at seeing Jesus in deep suffering. But Jesus said to them, ‘Weep not for me, but for your children.’”
Church: San Nicolas de Tolentino Church
The San Nicolas de Tolentino Church was built in 1863 made of coral stones just like the church in Samboan. Its façade is topped with a triangular pediment and decorated with a few bas reliefs.
It also features a royal of arms that indicates that the King of Spain supported the construction of the church. This insignia is carved into the stone above its main entrance. The structure is noted to be cruciform.
Station 9: Jesus is Stripped of His Garments and Nailed on the Cross
“Consider how Jesus was roughly stripped of his garments that he was also stripped of his skin. After being placed on the cross he extended his hands and was nailed. He offered to His eternal Father the sacrifice of His death for our salvation.”
Church: Saint Gregory the Great Parish Church
Saint Gregory the Great Parish Church is the living witness of Ginatilans rich history and living proof of the deep faith of the people living in the municipality. The church of baroque architecture was built on February 2, 1829.
Station 10: The Forgiven Thief
“Consider how Jesus so lovingly assured the repentant thief of Paradise.”
Church: St. Michael the Archangel Church
San Miguel Arcangel Church was built in 1784 out of coral stones under Fr. Romulado Avila. According to Fr. Felipe Redondo, church historian, the church was a building made of mamposteria with only one nave which makes it different among Spanish-built churches which are cruciform in design.
Station 11: Mary and The Beloved Disciple at the Foot of the Cross
“Consider how Jesus witnessed the excruciating pain that his mother Mary and the beloved disciple bore seeing him hanged on the cross. Moved with so much love, he entrusted Mary to John and John to Mary.”
Church: Our Lady of Consolation Parish
Municipality: Bato, Samboan
Station 12: The Death of Jesus
“Consider how Jesus, after three hours of agony on the cross, consumed at length with anguish, abandoned himself to the weight of his body, bowed his head, and died.”
Church: Saint Gabriel the Archangel Parish Church
During the Spanish period, Santander was under the Immaculate Concepcion Parish in Oslob, Cebu. Local folks had to walk 18 kilometers to attend mass. Because of this distance, the people requested that another church be constructed. It was completed in 1898 and named it Saint Gabriel the Archangel Parish Church.
Trivia: In 1898, the Santander church originally faced the sea but this was changed in 1960 to face the road for the convenience of the churchgoers.
Station 13: Jesus is Laid in the Tomb
“Consider how the disciples carried Jesus to bury him, accompanied by His holy Mother, who arranged his body in the sepulcher with her own hands. They then closed the tomb and went home.”
Church: Immaculate Conception Church
The Immaculate Conception Church was established on May 4, 1830, under the supervision of Fr. Julian Bermejo. The church was completed in 1848. Its interior features a high ceiling and the structure was made of coral stones quarried from the seas and cemented using lime from seashell ashes. The church bell tower stands at 30 meters and had a neo-classical style dome.
Trivia: On November 7, 1955, the church was destroyed when a fire gutted it. Nearly everything was destroyed except the image of the Immaculate Conception which was spared.
Station 14: The Resurrection of Jesus
“Consider Jesus’ resurrection as an assurance of victory over suffering and death. The Lord has risen. He is alive and alleluia is our song.”
Church: Nuestra Señora de Patrocino Parish
The Augustinian friars built the church of Patrocinio de Maria in the 18th century. The church and convent still use clay roof tiles for their roof. The complex was a fortress church. Within the complex are: a blockhouse at the front left side of the complex served as a watchtower, a school at the left rear side built in the 1940s, series of wall ruins, and an 18th-century cemetery.
The ceiling painting was done by local painters in the 1920’s. The church walls are made of coral stone. The façade is ornamented with ecclesiastic symbols. A pipe organ was installed in the 19th century at the choir loft.
14 old churches
All in one day
Today was the best learning experience for me on spirituality and heritage. Thanks, CIC friends for organizing the Round South Visita Iglesia. I had so much fun and learned a lot today 🙂
A former educator and now working as a freelance writer. Simply living her own version of life’s passion – music, mobile photography, story telling, road trips and food trailing! 🙂