We have many ways to reflect Christ’s life, passion, death, and resurrection. Fasting, abstinence, repentance, and turning away from sins are common activities during Holy Week. Apart from these, Visita Iglesia or Church Visit is one of them.
We learn the custom from the Augustinian friars. They are the first missionaries in the Philippines who arrived in 1565. The practice entails us to go to seven churches and pay homage on Christ’s sufferings. We do this on Holy Thursday.
There is no required prayer for the Visita Iglesia. Some would pray and meditate on the mysteries of the Holy Rosary. Others would pray two Stations of the Cross per church. Though seven is the suggested number of churches to visit, others may opt for 14 churches. In fact, the number of churches is immaterial as long as you pray fervently.
The Popularity of the Tradition
Visita Iglesia is a common tradition during Holy Week. There’s a myth that wishes will be granted if you accomplish the practice. But this isn’t a reason it remains popular.
Visita Iglesia is a practice to honor the Blessed Sacrament as you do this after Christ established the Sacrament of Eucharist. Then, it changed into a form of journey and reflection of Christ’s sorrow and distress. The tradition reflects on Christ’s first agony in the garden of Gethsemane. During then, He ordered apostles Peter, James, and John to remain and keep vigil with Him. But they did not comply.
Today, church visit is our solemn way of responding to His call. We go to at least seven churches to pray and reflect on His passion. Thus, it stays as a popular practice during Holy Week.
The Tradition Will Live On
Every holy week, we do Visita Iglesia or church visit. In the first place, who will not venerate Christ painful ways of freeing us from sins?
The Lenten season is a time to remember His sufferings and great love. To honor His noble sacrifices, we remain up with Holy Week’s traditions. Observing the customs will improve our spiritual discipline as we prepare for Christ’s coming. And Visita Iglesia, a custom to relive and accompany Christ in his suffering, will go on from generation to another.