Holy Thursday also known as Maundy Thursday for Christian Churches is very significant in observing the Lenten Season or Semana Santa/Cuaresma specially in the Philippines.
Traditionally, on this day, Catholic faithful solemnize the importance of Holy Thursday through Visita Iglesia or Church Visits.
Four (4) activities where commemorated in observance of Maundy Thursday:
- the washing of the Disciples’ Feet by Jesus Christ;
- the institution of the Mystery of the Holy Eucharist at the Last Supper;
- the agony of Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane; and
- the betrayal of Christ by Judas Iscariot.
The last supper of Jesus Christ with the Apostles was also observed on this day.
But what is more important in the custom/tradition of the Filipino Catholic faithful during Huebes Santo is to do the visita iglesia, literally, church visits. This tradition was an ancient practice started in Rome, where early pilgrims visited seven (7) pilgrim churches in Rome as penance.
Here in the Philippines, faithful carry out this tradition of Visita Iglesia as their “Pana-ad” by visiting seven churches (others may extend it to 14) and say the Stations of the Cross or Via Crusis, with two stations in each churches.
They follow this sequence:
- Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane,
- Jesus is betrayed by Judas and arrested,
- Jesus is condemned by the Sanhedrin,
- Jesus is denied by Peter,
- Jesus is judged by Pilate,
- Jesus is scourged and crowned with thorns,
- Jesus takes up His cross,
- Jesus is helped by Simon to carry His cross,
- Jesus meets the women of Jerusalem,
- Jesus is crucified,
- Jesus promises His kingdom to the repentant thief,
- Jesus entrusts Mary and John to each other,
- Jesus dies on the cross,
- Jesus is laid in the tomb.
Capiznon became truly faithful in observing this tradition, looking back to its history, Pan-ay town became the second Spanish settlement in the Philippines next to Cebu. Capiz then, became the center of Catholicism in the entire island.
Here are the possible route for visita iglesia in Capiz based on its proximity and accessibility (Roxas City->Pan-ay->Pontevedra -> Bailan -> Panit-an -> Loctugan -> Roxas City):
1. Immaculate Concepcion Metropolitan Cathedral – Roxas City
Immaculate Concepcion Metropolitan Cathedral Parish
2. Sta. Monica Parish – Pan-ay, Capiz
Sta. Monica Church, Panay Capiz.. the church where the Biggest Bell in Asia hangs in its belfry
3. St. Isidore Parish – Pontevedra, Capiz
Parish of St. Isidore, Pontevedra, Capiz
4. St. Vincent Ferrer Parish – Brgy. Bailan Pontevedra, Capiz
St. Vincent Ferrer Parish, Brgy. Bailan, Pontevedra, Capiz
5. St. Laurence Parish – Panitan, Capiz
St. Laurence Parish, Panitan, Capiz
6. St. Therese of Avila Parish – Brgy. Loctugan, Roxas City
St. Therese of Avila Parish, Brgy. Loctugan, Roxas City
7. Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Parish – Roxas City
Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Parish, Roxas
Are Filipinos nowadays truly faithful in observing this Holy Week? Do they solemnly and religiously observing the Visita Iglesia? or just doing the Visita Isla (Island Hopping)? Try to ask the teenagers now, they can’t even understand the reasons of observing this religious tradition, or this is just a reason to get away from work or school and enjoy the entire week with friends for a vacation.
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