Last Updated on April 16, 2022 by Tina
The other night, I and my younger brother and his family embarked on a Visita Iglesia on our way back home to San Juan, La Union from Vigan in Ilocos Sur. Visita Iglesia is an ancient Lenten tradition by the Catholics. It is the practice of visiting seven Catholic churches on Maundy Thursday and Good Friday (before 3:00 PM). The seven visits represent the final seven places or “stations” Jesus journeyed, from his arrest in the Garden of Gethsemane on Holy Thursday to his crucifixion and death on Good Friday. (www.catholicnewsagency.com) From what I have read, there are no specific prayers during Visita Iglesia. You can offer your personal prayers.
All municipalities in the province of Ilocos Sur and La Union have Catholic churches and most of these churches were built during the Spanish colonial era. Most of these churches are located along the national highway. From Vigan, we’re going to pass by more than ten municipalities to get to San Juan, and we decided that we are going to visit the churches located along the national highway.
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Here are the seven churches we visited, in case you want to do a Visita Iglesia next year:
St. Catherine of Alexandria Parish Church
The first church we visited is the St. Catherine of Alexandria Parish Church in Santa, Ilocos Sur. Completed in 1854, this church has a Neo-Baroque facade. I’ve been to this church a few times because Santa is my grandfather’s hometown. I remember going to this church when a relative died, and when one of my cousins got married.
St. Stephen Protomartyr Parish Church
Our second church was the St. Stephen Protomartyr Parish Church in San Esteban, Ilocos Sur. It was my first time visiting this church so I made three wishes. (They say that if it’s your first time to visit a church, make three wishes and it will be granted). This church reflects Augustinian touches.
Saint John of Sahagun Parish Church
The Saint John of Sahagun Parish Church in Candon, Ilocos Sur was our third church. It was constructed with an earthquake baroque design. Built in 1695, it was severely damaged due to an earthquake in 1707 but was rebuilt in 1713.
Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish Church
Our fourth church was the Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish Church in Santa Cruz, Ilocos Sur. The facade of the church was inspired by the old Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico. It’s a new church, inaugurated in June 2021.
St. Christopher Parish Church
The St. Christopher Parish Church in Bangar, La Union was our fifth church. This church was completed in 1689. It is a mix of Baroque architecture with Neoclassical features, This is the only church in Northern Luzon with three bell towers.
San Nicolas de Tolentino Church
Our second to the last church was the San Nicolas de Tolentino Church in Balaoan, La Union. It was constructed in the 1820s and made of lime, bricks, and stone. The church falls under the Baroque architecture. It was slightly damaged by an earthquake in 1880. The church retained its original foundation and design even though it underwent major renovations.
Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception Parish Church
The final church of our Visita Iglesia was the Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception Parish Church in Lingsat, San Fernando City, La Union. Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception Parish Church started as a chapel and was inaugurated in 2009. The design of the church displays a modern architectural approach.
Our last church was supposed to be the church in San Juan. But it is so weird that the church was closed when we got there. It was the only church we visited that was closed. Normally during this time, Catholic churches are open 24 hours due to this Lenten tradition.