Holy Doors! It was a different kind of Visita Iglesia for us last Holy Thursday as we participated in this year’s Holy Week campaign for the Jubilee Year of Mercy (Dec 2015 to Nov 2016) of the Roman Catholic Church here in the Philippines.
Our journey took us to the five (5) designated Jubilee churches in the Archdiocese of Manila: Sanctuario de Santo Cristo (San Juan), Archdiocesan Shrine of the Divine Mercy (Mandaluyong), National Shrine of the Sacred Heart (Makati), Our Lady of Sorrows Parish (Pasay) and the Manila Cathedral Basilica.
These churches possess all the five Holy Doors of Mercy in Manila that when entered with genuine faith and repentance may obtain for him or her the Jubilee Indulgence.
This extraordinary pilgrimage was described by Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle as a “pause” or a “spiritual oasis” for all people who journeys towards the Kingdom of God.
“After visiting each Jubilee church you must be propelled to embark on a journey of mercy – doing works of mercy, imbuing your actions, attitude, lifestyle and life with the purest quality of mercy that God, through His Son Jesus Christ, has so generously shown us and gifted us.” Cardinal Tagle added in his message to all Pilgrims.
Sanctuario del Santo Cristo Parish
Our first stop was at the Sanctuario del Santo Cristo Parish in Blumentritt, San Juan City.
The church and convent of Sanctuario del Santo Cristo were built in 1602-1604 by the Dominican Fathers of the Rosary Province. The first titular of the church was St. John the Baptist, hence the name of the town that grew around the church. In 1641 the image of the Santo Cristo in Binondo was transferred to Sanctuario.
Archdiocesan Shrine of the Divine Mercy
Located at the heart of Mandaluyong City (Maysilo Circle, Boni Avenue) is a church dedicated to Jesus, The Divine Mercy. Established in April 23, 1995 and dedicated as Archdiocesan Shrine in June 12, 1996, it serves as the center for devotion to the Divine Mercy in the Archdiocese of Manila.
It houses the 10-foot high original painting of Jesus the Divine Mercy by a Polish artist and a relic of St. Faustina Kowalska, the visionary of The Divine Mercy. Both relics were unreachable at that time because of the multitude of people inside the church.
National Shrine of the Sacred Heart
Back in the 50’s, Makati had only one main Church located in Poblacion that the residents of San Antonio Village and Sta. Cruz had to build a makeshift chapel, a common place of worship within their community. The chapel was moved twice before they settled in an Ayala owned land in Kamagong.
The chapel was blessed in 1971 by Bishop Paulino and canonically inaugurated by the late Jaime Cardinal Sin on February 14, 1976 with Msgr. Nico Bautista as its first Rector.
Of the five Jubilee Churches in the Archdiocese of Manila, the National Shrine of the Sacred Heart has the most organized program for the Holy Door Pilgrims.
Our Lady of Sorrows Parish
After going to San Juan, Mandaluyong and Makati our fourth stop was Pasay City.
Devotion to the our lady of sorrows dates back to the beginning of the Christian Church but it was not until the 13th Century that the devotion of meditating on the sorrows of the Our Lady began to flourish. In Florence, Italy seven holy men of noble birth left the city seeking solitude on Mount Senario and together formed a community dedicating their lives to prayer and penance.
On Good Friday in 1239, while meditating on Our Lord’s Passion and Our Lady’s sufferings, Our Lady appeared to the 7 holy men and revealed to them her wish for them to form an order dedicated to practicing and promoting the devotion to her sorrows. These men became the founders of the religious Order of the Servants of Mary (Servites) and are all canonized saints today.
Here in the Philippines, the Our Lady of Sorrows Parish in Pasay City was established by the Society of Saint Paul (SSP) in 1941 and is located along F.B Harrison. The Parish is also the venue of the wedding of Ninoy Aquino and former President Cory Aquino in October 11, 1954.
Our last stop was at the Minor Basilica of the the Immaculate Conception or the Manila Metropolitan Cathedral in Intramuros. We actually had a hard time finding a good place to park since the Cathedral and the whole of Intramuros is really full of people on Holy Thursday.
When the Philippines was separated from the Archdiocese of Mexico and became a diocese in 1581, Manila was chosen as the episcopal seat and the Church of La Purisima e Immaculada Concepcion as its Cathedral. The Church was later raised to the dignity of a Basilica on April 27, 1981 by Saint Pope John Paul II.
Manila Cathedral also hosts the most number of pilgrim activities in all of the five Jubilee Churches.