Visita Iglesia is a traditional Catholic practice observed within the Holy Week. Devotees visit seven different churches (sometimes there’s a particular or no set of number as it depends on the faithful’s personal preference) on Maundy Thursday or Good Friday and recite the Stations of the Cross (Pasyon, in Filipino). In the Philippines, the observance of Visita Iglesia dates back during the Spanish colonization era.
The reasons for practicing Visita Iglesia can be different for every individual. It may be done for penance, sending petitions, or thanksgiving for fulfilled wishes.
Most Catholic churches in Pangasinan were built during Spanish colonization in the Philippines. Although these churches have undergone or currently undergoing renovations, these parishes see to it that the old structure is maintained. The old ‘feel’ when inside these churches makes these buildings remarkable.
1. St. Joseph the Patriarch Parish Church, Mapandan, Pangasinan
Mapandan Parish Church
St. Joseph the Patriarch Parish Church (or simply, Mapandan Parish Church) was said to be established as a parish in 1905. Although most of the building’s structure is new as it was built around 1980s, the original facade was still followed during the renovation. The church is well located within the town proper.
This was the first church we visited during our visita iglesia. As old folks say, if you’ve visited a church for the first time, make a wish. And so I did.
Mapandan Parish Church Interior and Altar
2. Minor Basilica of Our Lady of the Rosary of Manaoag, Manaoag, Pangasinan
Our Lady of Manaoag Church
The Minor Basilica of Our Lady of the Rosary of Manaoag is sometimes called by people as Manaoag Church, or as simple as Manaoag. Thousands visit the church all-year round as a pilgrimage site. The stature of Our Lady of Manaoag is believed to be miraculous. During the Second World War when the Japanese dropped several bombs that destroyed nearby structures. One of the bombs that fell which should have destroyed the ivory statue miraculously didn’t went off. Other miracles that happened are depicted by the murals inside the church.
The Beloved Face of Our Lady of Manaoag (up close)
Statues on church altars are covered in purple cloth from Good Friday until Easter Sunday. The photo shown was taken earlier and presented as reference.
I’ve been to Manaoag Church several times but I’m still looking forward and excited to my next visit.
3. St. Hyacinth Parish Church, San Jacinto, Pangasinan
St. Hyacinth Parish Church
St. Hyacinth Parish Church Interior and Altar
The original structure was heavily damaged during the terrible earthquake in March 1892. The church itself was rebuilt.
4. St. Thomas Aquinas Parish Church, Mangaldan, Pangasinan
Mangaldan Parish Church
Mangaldan Parish Church Interior and Altar
What fascinates me is the magnificent paintings of the Stations of the Cross.
5. St. John the Evangelist Cathedral, Dagupan City, Pangasinan
St. John’s Cathedral
St. John’s Cathedral Altar (image taken before the Holy Week)
The Metropolitan Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist is sometimes also called Dagupan Cathedral. It is the cathedral of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Lingayen-Dagupan. The Archbishop’s House is located nearby as well as St. John’s Cathedral School that caters to elementary and high school students.
6. Sts. Peter and Paul Parish Church, Calasiao, Pangasinan
Sts. Peter and Paul Parish Church
Sts. Peter and Paul Parish Altar
Sts. Peter and Paul Church was founded in 1588 and its construction took place between the 17th and 19th century. Several natural calamities and man-made events caused damage to the building. Reconstruction and restoration have been done. Due to its age and excellent preservation, this baroque church was declared a National Cultural Treasure by the National Museum of the Philippines and the National Commission for Culture and the Arts.
Christ the King
7. Holy Family Parish Church, Sta. Barbara, Pangasinan
Holy Family Parish Church
Holy Family Parish Interior and Altar
Holy Family Parish or Sta. Barbara Church was known to be built in 1716 making it one of the oldest churches in Pangasinan.
Another church I visited was the St. Dominic de Guzman Parish Church in San Carlos City, Pangasinan.
St. Dominic de Guzman Parish Church
St. Dominic de Guzman Parish Church or San Carlos Church was constructed around the 18th century and completed in 1773 in Binalatongan. The church has undergone destruction mostly by earthquakes and fire, which reconstruction and rehabilitation was done several times. The church resembles a Baroque architecture and made mostly of bricks which still can be seen today.
The town of Binalatongan was founded in 1578 and renamed as San Carlos in 1764. It was declared a city on the 1st of January, 1966.
St. Dominic de Guzman Parish Church Interior and Altar
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