Visita Iglesia or the practice of visiting 7 churches during the Holy Week observance is a Catholic tradition introduced in the Philippines during the Spanish colonial regime. Originally observed to honor the Blessed Sacrament, the activity later developed into a sacred Holy Week devotion.
One theory about its origin claims it was popularized by the Roman Empire’s early Christian communities as a way of commemorating the suffering and death of Jesus Christ in seven parts.
Pilgrims would undertake the Visita Iglesia to seek penance for their sins by visiting the seven basilicas of Rome, according to Filipino historian Ambeth Ocampo in an opinion piece published in a national daily.
The tombs of such prominent martyrs as St. Peter and St. Paul can be found in Rome’s seven major basilicas.
Usually done today on a Maundy Thursday, a typical Visita Iglesia would have devotees visiting and praying in at least 7 separate churches. They would also carry out two of the 14 Stations of the Cross in each church.
For Visita Iglesia 2020 when Cebu is on community quarantine as part of efforts to contain the spread of the corona virus, we are featuring key historical churches to serve as virtual Visita Iglesia. You can download the Visita Iglesia app on your phone to read information about these churches.
San Guillermo de Aquitania Parish in Dalaguete
Basilica Minore del Santo Niño
Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral
Sto. Tomas de Villanueva Parish in Pardo
Bantayan Parish Church