Of the days of the Holy Week, Maundy Thursday is typically the day for Catholics to do some church visits called Visita Iglesia. This tradition has its ancient roots when Holy Thursday was set for some visit to sacred sites associated with the passion and death of Christ in Jerusalem. The practice was replicated in ancient Rome with visits to seven of the earliest basilicas as symbolic of the holy places in the Holy Land.
In the Philippines, the tradition evolved into pilgrimage to seven Catholic churches. Nowadays, some would do the visita iglesia by a singular visit to a church to do the novena on the stations of the cross. Others retain the required seven churches while some will ignore the traditional seven requirement by going to as many churches they can — like ten or fourteen. Still, there are those who would not aim for a higher number. For them, what is more important than the quantity is the quality of church visits.
Devotees to the Black Nazarene and Sto. Intiero usually bring their images to a procession from church to church dressed in maroon clothes and walking barefoot. There are those who made their panata (religious commitment) to carry a cross all throughout their pilgrimage. This form of sacrifice for the devotees is a humble recognition of the great love of Jesus who offered His life for humanity’s salvation. Others would pray the rosary from station to station or from church to church. Noise, petty talk and boisterous laughter are avoided so as not distract others in their prayers and make the pilgrimage solemn and rich in reflection.
As the Holy Week opens summer in the Philippines, some Filipino families and friends would already plan their vacation around a pilgrimage by identifying their target old churches in a particular province. Finding an excuse to get out of the summer heat in Metro Manila, they prefer visiting nearby provinces where there are lots of old Catholic churches like Laguna, Cavite, Batangas, Quezon, Pampanga and Bulacan. Those who can afford to fly to the Visayas and Mindanao would also list down old churches as part of their travel itinerary.
Took these shots during my visits to old churches in Manila — from Intramuros to Chinatown to Quiapo to Mendiola and Malacañang: Manila Cathedral, San Agustin Church, Binondo Church, Quiapo Church, Minor Basilica of San Sebastian, San Beda Church, St. Jude Thaddeus Church and San Miguel Church. The whole experience was physically exhausting but spiritually invigorating. Plus, capturing my pilgrimage in full lomographic style was a total blast.