Three Sites for Visita Iglesia
Text: Rachel Kwek ZY
Monasterio de Tarlac
Where: Lubigan, San Jose, Tarlac
Perched atop Mount Resurrection, part of the Zambales Mountain Range in San Jose, is Monasterio de Tarlac — home of the Relic of the Holy Cross. It was enshrined in the chapel in January 2007 (in a ceremony officiated by Cardinal Fernando Filoni, papal nuncio to the Philippines then) and specially honoured on 19 Jan and 14 Sep each year to mark the enshrinement anniversary and SRC founding anniversary respectively. The cross is believed to be one of three used in Jesus’ crucifixtion that Saint Helena excavated in Jerusalem. Pilgrims can touch it at 3pm on Sundays and 10.30am on other days.
Constructed for use as a hermitage for monks, the monastry is now a popular place of worship for Catholics. Its founder Reverend Archie Cortez desired a place where the new community of believers known as Servants of the Risen Christ could dedicate themselves to a life of prayer and solitude, and shared this with the then governer, who later granted a piece of land for this purpose. Its foundation was laid in 2000 and hermitages for the monks was completed in 2003. Besides a 30-foot high statue of Jesus, a 12-room dormitory and a columbarium are also built in the compound. Holy Week when special services and rituals are held is a popular time for pilgrims to visit.
Our Lady of Lourdes Grotto
Where: San Jose , Bulacan
An exact replica of Lourdes Grotto in France, this well-known religious venue features a reconstruction of the 14 Stations of the Cross with life-size statues and Rosary Hill with 155 huge concrete beads. Opened on 11 Feb 1965, it was built by the Guanzon family as an act of thanksgiving after Anita Guidote-Guanzon was miraculously cured from cancer after pilgrimaging to Lourdes in 1961. The privately owned property is now run by Anita’s eldest child after she passed away in 1990. It is also known for a spring that runs below the statue of Our Lady of Lourdes whose water is believed to have healing powers.
Banal na Bunduk Dalan Ning Krus
Where: Orchard Village, Magalang, Pampanga
Located at the foot of Mount Arayat, this is a popular site where local Christian and Catholics like to visit especially during Holy Week. It is the brainchild of Soroptimist International (SI) of Magalang, a voluntary organisation of women from 21 countries founded in 1921 to better the lives of other women.
Banal na Bunduk Dalan Ning Krus draws pilgrims from the Philippines and beyond with its life-sized statues that replicate the Stations of the Cross: including a 40-feet tall statue of Christ, which marks the the 14th station erected in 2015. The other stations were completed in 2014 and moving sequentially from one to the next takes you on a 1.6 kilometres trek up to the summit where you can get a bird’s eye view of Pampanga.