It has been part of my tradition to visit churches during the Holy Week and this year was no different—except that I’d be doing it exclusively by walking and won’t be able to cover as many as I wanted. Nevertheless, I was able to include a new one in my itinerary despite using an old route.
I had accidentally injured my lower back quite badly two weeks ago so I was advised by my doctor not to do any strenuous activities, including running. But despite being “grounded” to walking, I still wanted to do my tradition even if I knew that I may not be able to cover as many churches as I wanted. I still preferred my tried and tested old route in the city of Manila as this is probably the place with the most churches (centuries old, might I add) per square kilometer anywhere in the Philippines!
My Visita Iglesia started with the Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene, better known as Quiapo Church. This church is special for me and I always make it a point to visit whenever I can. From here, I walked to the relatively close Santa Cruz Church. I’ve passed by a few times in front of this church but this is actually the first time I had actually gotten in.
The church is right across the Manila Chinatown, the oldest in the world, which is where my feet took me next. After some quick checking on my mobile, I finally found my next destination, the Minor Basilica of St. Lorenzo Ruiz, also known as Binondo Church. Unfortunately, the church was closed when I arrived, and so I was off towards the other side of the Pasig River, inside the walled city of Intramuros.
The Manila Metropolitan Cathedral-Basilica, or simply Manila Cathedral, is my first destination in the walled city and I was fortunate that it’s open. I’m so glad that I was able to be back inside this cathedral especially that Pope Francis held mass here upon his last visit.
My fifth and unfortunately final stop on this year’s Visita Iglesia would be San Agustin Church. Despite being the oldest stone structure in the country (more than four centuries already), I find this church one of the most beautiful, mainly because of its trompe-l’œil ceiling. Unfortunately, it was closed as well when I arrived.
Closing off this year’s Visita Iglesia is a quick pass through Rizal Park. The lawns are back to normal (after being trampled upon when the Pope held mass at the Quirino Grandstand), the road repairs in Roxas Boulevard have been completed, and the “national photo-bomber” seems to be nearing completion.
I hope that everyone had a meaningful Lenten season!