It was a gloomy Black Saturday when my friends and I decided to do visita iglesia around Albay. The Visita Iglesia (Church Visit) is a Holy Week practice where devotees visit and pray in at least 7 separate churches.
Here are the seven old churches that we visited:
1. St. John the Baptist Church, Tabaco City
It was ten in the morning when we headed to Tabaco City for our first stop which is the St. John the Baptist Church. From Legazpi City, we rode a bus and it took us 45 minutes to get there.
It was built in 1750 and was designated as National Historical Landmark after 223 years.
Here’s the interior of this magnificent edifice:
We had our lunch first and went straight ahead to our next stop: the beautiful and quiet municipality of Sto. Domingo, the home of Bicol’s prestige beaches!
2. St. Dominic de Guzman, Sto. Domingo
The church is said to have been built through forced labor in 1820. There are no pillars to support the building but only massive solid stone walls! And believe it or not, the laborers only used a mixture of lime, egg albumin and molasses as cement.
3. St. Gregory the Great Cathedral, Old Albay
The cathedral started as a wooden chapel built by early Spanish missionaries who moved into the town of Albay in the 1580s. It was damaged by American bombers and reconstruction went beyond 1951.
The church’s reconstructed architectural design is already quite of modern influence.
4. Our Lady of the Gate Parish, Daraga, Albay
Constructed in 1773 atop Sta. Maria hill in Brgy. San Roque, it captured the hearts of many because of its hauntingly beautiful baroque architecture. I remember, this is also where we held our college baccalaureate mass three years ago.
This church is also famous for wedding ceremonies!
The statues and even photos are being covered with violet cloth during Lent and will be unveiled on the Easter eve mass.
5. St. John the Baptist Church in Camalig, Albay
The whole structure was completed in 1848 using solid blocks of volcano rock from Mount Mayon.
I also noticed that there are some gravestones on the wall alongside the pews. Kinda creepy!
6. Our Lady of Assumption, Guinobatan, Albay
Just like any other churches, this simple yet beautiful church has witnessed so many historical events such as wars and natural disasters.
7. St. Stephen Protomartyr Church in Ligao City, Albay
It traces its history from the 16th century when the city is just a small town without a leader. This church is a prominent landmark frequented by pilgrims and tourists
We reached Ligao City at around 6 pm and these beautiful sunflowers welcomed us!
This Visita Iglesia was overall a wonderful experience.Yes, we were exhausted but the churches that showed us impressive beauty made us feel so fulfilled! It did not just serve as our bonding moment but it definitely added meaning to our lent observation.
I was able to realize how immensely rich our culture really is! I may not know the real stories behind these churches but for the fact that they still do exist is simply a tremendous privilege for me to witness!
As a Roman Catholic who was able to do such an act, I do believe that whatever it is that I have prayed for during my visit to these churches will absolutely be granted, in Jesus’ name! 🙂
(Facts were obtained from http://www.wowlegazpi.com and wikipedia)
Jhonn Robert is a 23-year-old-travel-photo-blog-law-politics-faith-enthusiast who dreams to go around the world with just a backpack.