Intramuros opens 7 churches for Visita Iglesia

Published March 26, 2018, 5:17 PM

by AJ Siytangco

By Hans Amancio and Leslie Ann Aquino

Intramuros turns into a center for Lenten ritual on Holy Thursday with the opening of the seven churches and chapels for the traditional Visita Iglesia and the Stations of the Cross around the walled city, and the staging of the “MartirsaGolgota” musical inspired by the Cenaculo.

Manila Cathedral church (MANILA BULLETIN)
Manila Cathedral church

The seven churches inside Intramuros in Manila will be open to pilgrims and visitors starting on March 29, Holy Thursday, from 8 a.m to 12 midnight.

The Department of Tourism (DOT) and IntramurosAdministration (IA) have prepared the following churches and chapels for the VisitaIglesia: Manila Cathedral onCabildo Street; San Agustin Churchon Gen. Luna St., Fr. William Chapel at the Knights of Columbus Compound, Gen. Luna Street; San Ignacio Church SiteonArzobizpo Street; Guadalupe Shrine in Fort Santiago; Lyceum University Chapel onMuralla St.; and Mapua University Chapel, also on Muralla St.

The “Seven Stops,” as the DOT calls it, will pay homage to the original seven churches inside Intramuros during the Spanish era. The VisitaIglesia in the walled city will be conducted for the first time since World War II.

The project, launched by the DOT and the IA, aims to revive the annual Catholic traditionsof Holy Week, said Tourism Secretary Wanda Teo.

The Lenten activities inside Intramuros are part of the DOT’s Faith Tourism project.

Visitors can also pray the Station of the Cross at the crosses positioned around the Walled City – from Beaterio Street to Muralla Street.The “Via Crucis” will be open from on Holy Thursday to Black Saturday (March 29 to 31), from 8 a.m. to 12 midnight.

The Via Crucis stations images were supplied by the San Agustin Museum.

The “MartirsaGolgota,” a musical on the passion of Christ, inspired by the traditional Cenaculo, will be staged along General Luna Street, with a primary performance to be held in front of the Palacio del Gobernador, at 7:30 p.m. It will be staged by the Tanghalang Santa Ana on Holy Thursday.

Closed to vehicles

General Luna Street will be closed to vehicles on March 29 to 30 to allow pilgrims and tourists to perform – or observe –the traditional Holy Week rituals.

‘Love alone can make us holy’

Lingayen Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas said the observance of Holy Week is not about religious traditions and pious practices nor what Catholics must do.

“Holy Week is not what men and women do to make these days holy. It is not about what Catholics must do, nor is it about religious traditions and pious practices done to ‘feel good’ after,” he said in his Holy Week reflection.

Holy Week, Villegas said is about what Christ has done for humanity.

The former head of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines reminded the faithful that this week is holy because of love.

“Love alone can make us holy,” said Villegas.

Bring food to 7 patients

The prelate asked the faithful to make someone feel loved by visiting and bringing food to seven patients in the charity ward aside from doing the VisitaIglesia.

Donate blood

“Instead of spilling your blood on the streets, why not walk into a Red Cross office and donate blood? Choose to share life. Share your blood,” Villegas said.

Donate slippers

“Do we need to walk barefoot till our soles get blisters as a form of penance for our sins? Why don’t you buy a pair of slippers and give it to a child who goes to school dragging his torn footwear?” he added.

Read the Bible

He said buying a Bible and reading one chapter a day with your family for the rest of the year is also good aside from singing the “pasyongmahal.”

Visit abandoned seniors

“Do you need to get the flowers from the Holy Week carrosas to bring home and adorn your family altar? Why don’t you bring flowers instead to a home for abandoned seniors and brighten the faces of lonely grandparents with the love you bring?” said Villegas.

“Love begins with a smile. Make someone happy this Holy Week. Make someone feel loved. With your smile, show that God is love,” he added.

The Lingayen Dagupan prelate said while Holy Week traditions vary from country to country over the years only one tradition has remained –the Christian tradition of Love.

“It is really not just a tradition. The first Christians were known to be the most loving of all. Love is our identity. This week is holy because of love. Love alone can make us holy,” Villegas said. (With a report from Christina Hermoso)