|Visita Iglesia: a short history
Visita Iglesia is a much-cherished Catholic tradition. It is an ancient practice, probably originating in Rome, where early pilgrims visited the seven most important churches: Saint John Lateran, Saint Peter, Saint Mary Major, Saint Paul-outside-the-Walls, Saint Lawrence Outside the Walls, Holy Cross-in-Jerusalem, and traditionally Saint Sebastian Outside the Walls. Every Holy Thursday evening, after the Evening Celebration of the Lord's Supper, Filipino Catholics, as families, groups, or even as individuals, visit seven churches to pray before Christ present in the Blessed Sacrament which has been put inside altars of reposition after the Evening Celebration.
This pious exercise is located within the longstanding Christian tradition of pilgrimages. The faithful since the early Christian centuries have embarked on journeys to places of spiritual significance. Christians would venerate the memory of apostles, martyrs, confessors, bishops, and virgins at their tombs. In the 4th century, with the efforts of Helena and Constantine, the Holy Land became the pilgrimage site par excellence and since then, Christians have gone to the places where Jesus had been. In the Middle Ages, the popular sites were the tomb of Santiago (Saint James) in Compostela, Spain, the tomb of Saint Thomas Becket in Canterbury, England, and the eternal city of Rome.
Saintago de Compostela
Pilgrimages in the Philippines
The Philippines is a country blessed by God with all its natural wonders and its Catholic faith firmly planted on its many islands. God is present in his creation and in his Church. Thus, this country is a holy place, a holy land. We have a multitude of places where we can encounter God, where we can encounter Christ. We have beautiful churches, and holy people who fill up and use these churches for Christian worship.
|About Pilgrimage Pilipinas
It is also a venture that aims to help fund church programs and church heritage conservation. Pilgrimage Pilipinas began as educational trips organized by Jeffrey Velasco and the Mabuhay Guides for the Theology-Philosophy Area of De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde for the Dynamics of Religion course with the guidance of Mr. Maynard Tamayo. Seeing the need to make more people aware of our heritage and the urgent need for conservation and knowing the many needs of the Church everywhere, Jeff decided to turn this into his social enterprise, wherein he can facilitate the encounter of the faithful with the Divine in sacred places and at the same time help the churches in their conservation and the Church in her many programs.
Mabuhay Guides explaining about the church of Pagsanjan
to the students of DLS-CSB during their DYNAREL field trip.
We all seek God.
This program is for individuals who want to want to find God and encounter him in sacred places, people who want to embark on that sacred journey to meet up with the divine, and Christians who want to connect with the Lord.
This program is for families, communities, ministries, organizations, associations, confraternities, and groups who wish to have a meaningful activity for Lent and Easter, who want a new way of doing their recollection, who want to learn more about the Church and their place in the Christian community.
This program is for Catholic schools who wish to have an alternative program as field trips or recollections and to provide quality learning experiences for their students.
|How is this Pilgrimage different from other Visita Iglesia?
1. Lots of learning
In other Visita Iglesia pilgrimages, you sit in a bus and sleep while on the way to the next church. With us, the bus ride is a recollection and a guided tour. There are prayers and spiritual exercises in the bus, as well as commentaries about the Christian Faith plus you get to know about the things you see outside the window.
2. Organized and meaningful prayer
In other Visita Iglesia pilgrimages, you just pray the Stations of the Cross. In our Visita Iglesia, prayers are more organized, more coherent with the churches and the season, and more meaningful. This is because the organizer is a trained liturgist, an expert in the field of worship and prayer who is immersed in the Church in the parish and Diocesan level.
3. Professional Tour Guiding
In other Visita Iglesia pilgrimages, you simply go into the churches and get a general description of it. In our pilgrimages, the buildings and parts of the churches come alive because of the professional guiding services by the Mabuhay Guides. To know more about the guides, go here.
4. Endorsement of the Cardinal Archbishop of Manila
Pilgrimage Pilipinas has the endorsement of no less than the Archbishop of Manila, His Eminence Gaudencio Cardinal Rosales. He even said "We, therefore, bless and commend this endeavor and endorse PILGRIMAGE PILIPINAS to our priests and lay faithful in the Archdiocese of Manila."
You can view the letter here.