Aside from the Lourdes Grotto in San Jose Del Monte, one of the known Catholic pilgrimage site in Bulacan is the National Shrine of the Divine Mercy located in Marilao.
I visited the place on Good Friday and was surprised at the number of people who are visiting the Shrine. The Shrine look small and plain on the outside but a passage at the left side of the main church will lead you down to a huge area at the back of the church landscaped to host and guide pilgrims into a spiritual and religious journey.
The main church is made distinct with its wonderful bell tower while the altar houses the icon of the Divine Mercy.
Last Friday, the huge theater-like chapel at the back is filled with people watching a passion play presentation (senakulo) just before the dry mass at 3pm. Surrounding the huge chapel is their famous calvary-liked path containing all the life-sized images of the Stations of the Cross where pilgrims get to visit each station and pray. Here’s a look at the fourteen stations:
Just below the main church is the Lourdes Cave which houses various images and has been said to have healed a lot of people. A long line of people wait as this is one of the stop that pilgrims never fails to visit when they are in the Shrine. Also at the back of the church is the Rosary Hill as well as the grotto of the Our Lady of Lourdes and the Resurrection of Christ.
The Shrine also features the Little Poland Museum and a Souvenir and Snack Shop. I wasn’t able to visit all the places inside this wonderful pilgrimage site because of the huge number of pilgrims last Friday but I was fortunate to witness some of their wonderful religious images as the Shrine prepares for the Good Friday procession.
The National Shrine of the Divine Mercy in Marilao will celebrate its 20th year anniversary of consecration in 2014.
HOW TO GET TO THE SHRINE:
The fastest way is to take the NLEX route and exit at Marilao. Then take the Marilao-San Jose Del Monte road. You can’t miss the place because it’s just along the road and there are a lot of food establishments surrounding the Shrine. If you’re coming from Mc Arthur Hi-Way, there is a jeepney terminal along Santiago Street and even at the SM City Marilao terminal that can take you to the Shrine. There are buses in Manila and EDSA that’ll also pass by the Marilao- San Jose Del Monte road. If you’re coming from Tungkong-Mangga SJDM there are also jeepneys that’ll take you straight to Marilao, these rides will pass by the Lourdes Grotto, Muzon and also the Divine Mercy National Shrine.