For the first time in my adult life, I was able to experience Visita Iglesia, the catholic tradition of visiting 7 churches during Holy Week. I persuaded my Filipino-Chinese friend and travel buddy Doreen of GETS Travel to join me in this soul searching journey while I'm in Naga City,Bicol.
Visita Iglesia 2016 : Pilgrim City of Naga
Our first stop was Carmelite Monastery which was in the outskirt of city center. This place is also very meaningful to me because of a little miracle that happened last January 2016 which led to a series of events in my life.
I introduced Doreen to Ate Lydia, the caretaker whom I met during my first visit in the Carmelite Monastery. She's the one who explained to me the significance of the devotion to the Scapular and how it is related to safety and protection. Since then, whenever I meet a Catholic when I'm travelling, I give them my spare scapular.
For our 2nd church, we visited Immaculate Conception.
For every church we visited, we offered a candle and prayed for our intentions.
3rd Stop: After walking the whole stretch of Magsaysay Avenue, we rested a bit while we had our snacks in a convenience store. It was almost 8:30 pm when we arrived in one of the famous religious stops in Bicol, the Penafrancia Minor Basilica.
Basilica is the new home of INA, the patroness of Bicol. This is also one the places of worship I frequently visit. If you check my personal instagram
@msappleallison or follow the official IG @solessoul, you'll see several posts featuring the very beautiful stain glass mural window created by world renown Bicolano master artist Mr. Pancho Piano.
The prayer below is one of the most meaningful prayer for me. Everytime I recite it, I mean it with all my heart because it's simple, short but very deep.
It is home to the 300+ years of devotion to Our Lady of Penafrancia, one of the biggest Marian devotion in Asia.
By 9:40pm, we were at the Naga Metropolitan Cathedral near downtown area, our 5th church that evening.
This is where we also witness the start of "Soledad", a late night procession of different images of Mary as she looks for the tomb of her son, Jesus Christ.
We continue walking towards the city center where one of the oldest parishes in Asia is located. San Francisco Church was our 6th stop but we're surprised to see that it was close.
Our last stop was the Holy Cross Parish in Tabuco, a place I rarely visit. I only knew about this place of worship when one of my friends invited me to her wedding ceremony held at this church a few years ago.
We had a meaningful Visita Iglesia. Doreen and I
had our moment of silence as we prayed
for our respective intentions.
Personally, I was able to reconnect with my God and rekindle my faith in Him.
And after enduring 7 hours of walking as our simple penitence, it is heartwarming to read this sign outside the Holy Cross Parish --- Matthew 19:26
I firmly believe this was one of God's way of communicating with me... He's reminding me that I should let go of my fears and inhibitions as I rely to His Divine Providence.
So far, I feel contented that I was able to complete the 7 churches this year and have a solemn Visita Iglesia experience with one of my most trusted friend and travel buddies. We both feel closer to our God with our renewed faith in His great love for mankind.