I HAVE always admired the devotion Catholics have to their faith, as well as the culture and customs that they keep alive. It is fascinating to see how serious and deliberate many of them are in their traditions. This is always on display in the week that leads to Jesus Christ’s resurrection.
I have witnessed devotees waving their palaspas on Palm Sunday at the National Shrine of Padre Pio in Batangas to welcome Jesus Christ as He comes back to life after death, although some do it to drive away bad spirits and allow space for good fortune to come in. I have also heard old women chant verses from Pasyon, a preserved epic poem narrating the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. I have seen the movie Marcelino Pan Y Vino numerous times with my cousins during special Holy Week programming on television, bewildered by the miracles that follow him.
But of all the Holy Week customs that fascinate me, I’m always drawn toward the Visita Iglesia, in which buses of devotees from different provinces visit at least seven churches to recite different sets of prayers. Some say the rosary, some pray in front of the Blessed Sacrament, but most recite the 14 stations of the cross.
Visita Iglesia is a form of devotion in which one visits seven to 14 churches in order to commemorate the Passion of Jesus Christ on Maundy Thursday, the day of the Last Supper. It is based on the first sorrowful mystery of the Bible, in which Jesus asks three of His disciples — Peter, James, and John — to accompany him and keep vigil, but they fall asleep thrice. Judas then kisses Jesus in an act of betrayal. This is the beginning of the Lord’s passion. In the Visita Iglesia, the faithful keep vigil with Jesus.
Here, I give you glimpses of the churches in Laguna for the Visita Iglesia.