Us Pinoys, especially Cebuanos, are used to doing Visita Iglesia every 4th month of the year, specifically during the observation of the Holy Week or Semana Santa. As devout Catholics, it would be great if we can spend time in churches and other religious sites that will encourage us more to praise our one and only savior, Jesus Christ, commemorate His resurrection on the cross, and simply be grateful for all of His sacrifices from the day He was born on earth up until today.
With that said, here are iconic churches around Cebu that you should consider including in your Visita Iglesia itinerary this year:
More popularly known as Simala Church, this miraculous place is annually visited by millions of devotees not just from Cebu but also from the rest of the cities and provinces in the whole Philippines and even from abroad. Its worldwide recognition is brought about by the fact that the Statue of Virgin Mary inside the monastery is believed to be able to heal lots of people with various illnesses and diseases.
The Monastery of the Holy Eucharist is home to Marian monks and is filled with a variety of images of the Virgin Mary from across the globe. It also comes with prayer rooms, giant statues, and picnic tables, which devotees can use to eat, relax, and take pictures of the huge, stunning monastery. Aside from these things, devotees can also see thousands or millions of testimonials here coming from people who have been healed from their conditions due to their devotion to the Virgin Mary and their visitation in Simala Church.
To get there, go to South Bus Terminal and ride a Ceres bus heading to Sibonga. Travel time is around 2-2.5 hours and fare is 50 pesos. Tell the driver you're going to Simala; then, take a habal-habal upon reaching the drop-off point in Sibonga. The habal-habal ride to Lindogon will cost 20 pesos.
Cebu City won't be known for Sinulog without the sanctuary of the sacred child Jesus, Basilica Minore del Santo Niño. In fact, you couldn't be called a true-blooded Cebuano if you haven't been to the basilica yet or even visited the Magellan's Cross. The former houses the original and the replica image of the Senior Santo Niño, while the latter serves as the landmark of the planting of the first Catholic cross in Cebu by no other than Ferdinand Magellan way back 1521.
The basilica is a great reminder of the introduction of Christianity in Cebu and the Philippines. An annual fiesta, which we all call Sinulog, is held every 3rd Sunday of January in honor of the Senior Santo Niño and his constant protection and countless blessings to all Cebuanos.
This church is considered as one of the most populated churches in Cebu since it is located in Guadalupe, which is Cebu's biggest barangay, and serves as a sanctuary of the city's patron saint, Our Lady of Guadalupe of Cebu. You won't miss it this Holy Week for you can easily ride a 06C jeepney from Colon Street, which passes by the church conveniently.
Aside from the fact that Guadalupe is the nest of Cebu's patron saint, this place is also known for its unique, one-of-a-kind church in the langub or cave. The Langub Church or the La Cueva de Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe also has an image of Our Lady of Guadalupe, and it is even believed to be miraculous. Devotees can wear the image's miraculous cloth upon entering the langub if they want to be healed from any condition and ask for special petitions from the Our Lady of Guadalupe. They can also bathe in the small stream inside the cave, which is from the Guadalupe River, for many believe that the water here can miraculously provide healing as well.
Want to hear an interesting history of the Langub Church? Well, residents claim that it was in the cave where the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe was hidden many years ago to be protected from the raging war against the Spaniards and the Filipinos. It was only accidentally found by Berto Miñoza, a chicken trapper from Kalunasan, Guadalupe.
This holy place is easily accessible for devotees like you since all residents in Kalunasan, Guadalupe know the route to Langub. Feel free to ask around once in Guadalupe to set foot in one of Cebu's most sacred sites during your Holy Week 2014 Visita Iglesia.
Few steps away from the Basilica Minore del Santo Niño, you can find the Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral, which boasts of a grand facade and a huge, elegantly designed interior. This church serves as the ecclesiastical seat of the Metropolitan Archdiocese of Cebu, and it comes with a Holy Door, a special door at the right wing of the church especially made for the celebration of the Jubilee Year in 2000.
Shrine of Our Lady of Miraculous Medal in Bogo
If you are familiar and fascinated with the beauty and immenseness of the well-renowned Divine Mercy Shrine in El Salvador City, Misamis Oriental, wait until you witness a nearer and uniquely Cebuano version in Bogo City.
The Shrine of Our Lady of Miraculous Medal is situated on a top of a hill in La Paz, Bogo and is overlooking the North National Road. There are 150+ steps that every devotee should climb in order to get to the top and see the shrine up close and personal. A small chapel can also be found on the top, just below the huge statue, where devotees can pray and enjoy some peaceful, quiet time.
To experience the solemnity of this hilltop religious site, ride a tricycle in La Paz, Bogo, and prepare your feet for some serious stair walk. The shrine can be easily seen from the rocky road because it is huge and painted white.
Complete your Holy Week 2014 by doing a Visita Iglesia to the most famous and iconic churches around Cebu.