Visita Iglesia is a famous Roman Catholic lenten or Semana Santa tradition of visiting seven different churches while reciting the Stations of the Cross prayer in them. The Seven Churches Visitation is traditionally observed on Maundy Thursday however it is now commonly practiced during any day of the Holy Week.
Malate Church in Manila
Here is a list of 7 heritage churches in Manila to guide you in planning your Visita Iglesia itinerary in Manila.
Binondo Church – Minor Basilica of St. Lorenzo Ruiz
Minor Basilica of St. Lorenzo Ruiz in Binondo
Located in the Worlds Oldest Chinatown, Minor Basilica of St. Lorenzo Ruiz in Binondo is not hard to find. Also popularly known as Binondo Church, this heritage site is beautifully located in front of Plaza San Lorenzo Ruiz. In 1596, Dominican priests founded Binondo church to serve their Chinese converts to Christianity as well as to the native Filipinos living in the area. The original building was destroyed in 1762 by British bombardment. A new granite church was completed on the same site in 1852 however it was greatly damaged during the Second World War, with only the western facade and the octagonal bell tower surviving.
Santa Cruz Parish Church in Manila
Sta. Cruz Parish in Sta. Cruz Manila
Located in front of Carriedo Fountain in Ongpin, Sta Cruz Parish Church was originally built by Jesuits before a new church construction was finished on June 20, 1619. In 1643, The Jesuits enshrined the image of the Our Lady of The Pillar to serve the pre-dominantly Chinese residents in the area. The image drew a lot of devotees and a popular followers grew around it.
Quiapo Church – Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene
Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene in Quiapo
The Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene also known as Saint John the Baptist Parish or Quiapo Church is a famous Roman Catholic Church located in the District of Quiapo. The basilica is the famous home of the miraculous Black Nazarene image where thousands of devotees flock each year for the annual religious procession. In this church, daily hourly masses are celebrated and devotees come from all walks of life.
San Sebastian Church
Basilica of San Sebastian in Claro M. Recto St. Manila
The Basilica Minore de San Sebastian, also known as San Sebastian Church is a Roman Catholic minor basilica. This church is also known as the National Shrine of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel. Completed in 1891, San Sebastian Church is the only all-steel church or basilica in asia. The church was designated as a National Historical Landmark by the Philippine government in 1973. It is located at Plaza del Carmen, at the eastern end of Claro M. Recto Street, in Quiapo, Manila.
The interior of the San Agustín Church in Intramuros (photo courtesy of Wikipedia)
San Agustin Church, Intramuros
The only church in Intramuros that survived the WWII, San Agustin Church is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is said to be the oldest church in the Philippines. Built from 1587 to 1607, the church survived earthquakes, the Philippine Revolution, the Philippine-American War and World War II. Known as one of the most expensive church to hold a wedding ceremony, San Agustin Church is located at Gen. Luna Street in Intramuros Manila.
Facade of Malate Church
Malate Catholic Church is a Baroque-style church located in front of the Rajah Sulaiman Park which is few steps from the famous Manila Bay Walk. The church was listed as one of the oldest churches in Manila outside of Intramuros. Malate Church has been rebuilt several times after being damaged by earthquakes in 1645 and 1863, and then by World War II.
St. Vincent de Paul Church in San Marcelino St. (photo courtesy of www.svpp-manila.org.ph)
St. Vincent de Paul Church in San Marcelino St. Manila
Also known as Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal, this church was originally used as parish church of Paco Manila from 1898 to 1909, this church was built as small chapel in 1883. In commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the arrival of the Vicentians and Sisters of Charity in the Philippines, a bigger concrete parish church was built in 1912. This Roman Catholic Church is located inside Adamson University compound.
Is it possible to visit these 7 churches in just one day? Definitely Yes! During Semana Santa, the streets of Manila is usually empty since students and most of the people are visiting their own provinces to spend the holy week their family.
Some of the useful facts and photos are courtesy of Wikipedia