The Visita Iglesia (literally Church Visit) is a tradition observed by Catholics during Maundy Thursday, which is when they visit at least seven churches in succession. They do not have to attend mass; in fact, the visits are usually daytime or in the evening when there are no masses scheduled to avoid disrupting them.
There are no rules about what churches you should visit, or where. However, if you plan to be in the Quezon Province in time for the Visita Iglesia, you are in a good place. Quezon is the home of many of the oldest churches in the country and some have interesting histories. You may want to consider going to these churches for your religious observance as well as appreciate their historical value.
Saint John the Baptist Parish Church of Tiaong
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St. John the Baptist Church facade in Tiaong,Quezon by Ramon FVelasquez – Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons
This is one of the landmarks in the municipality, and I is hard to miss: it is emphatically pink. There is nothing much known about the history of the church, except that it is said to be the site of a few appearances of the St. John the Baptist image. The original location of Tiaong is actually 4 miles to the south of its present one, but frequent marauding of the town by pirates at that time convinced the people that the sightings were telling them to move. The town of Tiaong itself used to be just a part of San Pablo, Laguna but it became a municipality in 1961 through the lobbying of a lady the townspeople called “Donya Tating.”
San Pedro Bautista Church in Candelaria
Candelaria Church by Ramon FVelasquez – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons
The church was built in honor of the Nuestra Señora de la Candelaria (Our Lady of Candles), which gave the town its name, although the church itself is officially named after San Pedro Bautista. The church is best known as Our Lady of Candelaria Church and houses a mural of the Nuestra Señora de la Candelaria, which celebrates the Filipino victory in the Filipino-American War. The original location of the church, built in 1611, was on the banks of Laguna Bay, but was badly damaged and eventually destroyed by earthquakes. It is quite a large and beautiful church at the end of a 126-step climb, presently located on Kalbaryo Hill.
Saint Francis of Assisi Church (aka Sariaya Church)
St Francis of Assisi Church (Sariaya) by Zernan2014 – Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons
This centuries-old church was begun in 1599 but went through several natural disasters, requiring several reconstructions. The original location was not where Sariaya is today, but in 1743, an earthquake, resulting funds, and attacking Moros destroyed the church, and it had to be relocated to higher, more secure ground on the slopes of Mt. Banahaw. The entire town went with it. The present church was completed in 1748 and continues to stand today. It is best known for housing the Sto. Cristo de Burgos image, supposedly a gift from King Felipe V to the townsfolk of Lumang Bayan (now Sariaya) which survived the destruction in 1743 intact, which was considered a miracle. It is permanently enshrined behind the Retablo (devotional painting).
Minor Basilica of Saint Michael the Archangel in Tayabas
Tayabas Basilica by 7warlords – Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons
Commonly known as the Tayabas basilica, it is an example of Baroque architecture in the shape of a Key. It is sometimes referred to as The Key of Tayabas. Minor Basilica of Saint Michael the Archangel is one of the most beautiful churches in the Philippines, and it is one of the National Cultural Treasures of the National Museum. The original church in Tayabas was made of nipa, anahaw, and bamboo in 1580 and built by Franciscan friars. It needed repairs by 1590, which was done under the supervision of San Pedro Bautista, and in that year the church obtained permission from the Spanish government to rebuild it in stone. It was finished in 1600 but destroyed in 1743 in an earthquake. It was rebuilt and expanded in 1856. The church’s patio was the site where Filipino rebels led by Vicente Lukban surrendered to the Spanish forces on August 13, 1898. It was conferred the title of minor basilica in 1988 by Pope John Paul II.
San Luis Obispo de Tolosa Parish Church in Lucban
Church of Saint Louis, Bishop of Toulouse, Lucban, Quezon by Rodrigo C. Belleza Jr. – Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons
San Luis Obispo de Tolosa Parish Church started out as a chapel in 1578 and became a parish in 1595, the first church to be made of wood. It is dedicated to Saint Louis of Toulouse. It was destroyed in 1629 and rebuilt in 1630 using stone and nipa, but fire razed it to the ground in 1733. It was rebuilt in 1743, and was only partially damaged in 1945 when US soldiers liberated Lucban. However, Typhoon Glenda tore off the roof over the altar in 2014, letting in water. However, the church still stands today.
Our Lady of the Angels in Atimonan
Side view of Our Lady of the Angels Parish in Atimonan, Quezon by Nickrds09 – Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons
According to the historical market, Our Lady of the Angels Parish Church aka Atimonan church and the town was burned down by the Dutch in 1640, and the rebuilt church (made of stone this time) was again partially razed by fire in 1648, and destroyed by earthquake in 1650. The church was rebuilt between 1687 and 1700, and again damaged by earthquake in 1937. It is fronting the Iskong Bantay monument, which is the last of the guard posts used in defense from pirates.
St. Catherine of Alexandria Parish Church in Pagbilao
Saint Catherine of Alexandria” by Carmelo Bayarcal – Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons
Also known as Pagbilao church, St. Catherine of Alexandria Parish Church started out as a cogon-and-bamboo edifice in 1688 in Barangay Binahaan (not a good omen) and was transferred in 1730 to its present location. The church was rebuilt in stone in 1845, and later expanded to include a convent in 1877. It was bombed by Americans in 1945 during the Liberation, and the bell tower was the only part that was left unscathed. The church was rebuilt in 1954, but much of the original appearance was changed. Some critics consider the plaster covered up the distinctive adobe bricks with which the original stone church was built and can still be seen in the bell tower.