(SPOT.ph) Visita Iglesia is upon us once again—and with it comes the search for the next historical church worth visiting as part of the annual pilgrimage that Catholic faithfuls take. Going on this journey will require careful planning, especially with the heat and traffic to worry about.
You can expect the majority to flock to the most popular churches in Metro Manila during Visita Iglesia: think Manila Cathedral, San Agustin Church, and San Sebastian Church. The Philippines has no shortage when it comes to historic churches, so why confine ourselves to the ones we’re already familiar with?
Many of these churches have stood the test of time, having experienced several renovations and expansions over the centuries. Whether you’re in it for seven or 14 churches, we compiled a list of 10 for you to check out below.
Here are historic churches in Metro Manila you can visit for Visita Iglesia, Holy Week:
International Shrine of Our Lady of Peace and Good Voyage (Antipolo Cathedral)
Dela Paz St., Antipolo, Rizal
Built in 1626
Antipolo Cathedral rose to the rank of an international shrine on March 25, making it Asia’s third and the world’s eleventh international shrine. No other church in the country can say that they are endorsed by the Vatican.
Antipolo Cathedral is at the heart of the Pilgrimage Capital of the Philippines, so it’s only fitting that we start off the list with this pick. It’s also where you can find the 17th Century Black Madonna image of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Even Dr. Jose Rizal himself went on this very pilgrimage in 1868.
Minor Basilica and National Shrine of San Lorenzo Ruiz (Binondo Church)
1006 Plaza Lorenzo Ruiz, Binondo
Built in 1596
Minor Basilica of San Lorenzo Ruiz has been through creation and destruction six times before it was finally rehabilitated into the church we know today. It’s the tenth minor basilica in the Philippines and the fourth in the Archdiocese of Manila. Here, masses are held in Filipino, English, Mandarin, and Hokkien for the Chinese community.
It was home to some of the most significant events in Christianity. Most importantly, Saint Lorenzo Ruiz is the first saint in the Philippines to be canonized by Pope John Paul, so why not make your first visit to the Binondo Church?
Santuario del Sto. Cristo (San Juan del Monte Church)
183 F. Blumentritt, San Juan City
Built in 1602
Inside the San Juan del Monte Church is the Santo Cristo, a life-sized image of Jesus Christ on the cross that is believed to have miraculous powers. The image was initially considered too big for niches in other conventual churches; it is now brought around San Juan streets every Holy Week. Its second patron is Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary.
Santuario del Sto. Cristo is recognized as a historic structure courtesy of the National Historical Commission of the Philippines in 1937. The acacia trees beside the church are almost as ancient, having been declared as heritage trees by the Department of Natural Resources in 2016.
Nuestra Señora de Gracia Church (Guadalupe Church)
7440 Bernardino Street, Guadalupe Viejo, Makati City
Built in 1630
Located on a hill, the Nuestra Señora de Gracia Church is one of the most popular wedding venues in Metro Manila for a good reason: its façade features a mix of Romanesque and Baroque elements on top of its stained-glass windows. Simply put, Nuestra Señora de Gracia Church embodies the rich cultural heritage of the Philippines.
Fun fact: the Nuestra Señora de Gracia Church is even represented in the city seal. It also served as a sanctuary for orphans and students in the late 1800s. Don’t mistake this church for the National Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe, which is the more recently built church that also happens to be located in Makati City.
Parish of Our Lady of the Abandoned (Santa Ana Church)
New Panaderos Street, Santa Ana, Manila
Built in 1578
Santa Ana Church is dedicated to Our Lady of the Abandoned, who is the patron saint of Santa Ana and is believed to intercede for the abandoned and neglected. Apart from its religious significance, Santa Ana Church also houses two National Cultural Treasures: the Santa Ana Site Museum located in the convent patio and the Camarín de la Virgen, a small chapel filled with irreplaceable paintings.
The church has a rich history, having been used as a hospital, military barracks, and even a prison during the Philippine Revolution and World War II. It was finally elevated to the rank of National Shrine in 2020.
Our Lady of Remedies Parish (Malate Church)
2000 M.H. Del Pilar Street, Malate, Manila
Built in 1588
The church is dedicated to Our Lady of Remedies, who is the patron saint of childbirth and is believed to intercede for those seeking healing and protection. In fact, the Malate Church has been associated with children’s ills as mothers would bring them on Saturdays to be cared for by Our Lady of Remedies. Her statue was brought over from Spain in 1624 to stand at the altar in Malate Church.
The present church has been rebuilt thrice in its entirety following numerous wars throughout history. The result is a beautiful Muslim and Baroque-style church overlooking the Manila Bay.
Our Lady of the Pillar Parish Church (Santa Cruz Church)
Plaza Sta. Cruz, Manila
Built in 1619
Santa Cruz Church is the first Mission and Mother house of Filipino Sacramentinos, making it the center of Congregation activities and events. It was raised to the rank of Archdiocesan Shrine in 2018. Compared to most Baroque churches in the Philippines, Santa Cruz Church has clear traces of Art Deco and Romanesque influences in its interior.
The church is dedicated to Our Lady of the Pillar, who is the patroness of Spain and is believed to have appeared to Saint James the Apostle in Zaragoza, Spain. Most notably, her image has also been canonically coronated by Pope Francis in 2017.
Diocesan Shrine and Parish of Our Lady of the Abandoned
J.P. Rizal Street, Corner V. Gomez Street, Sta. Elena, Marikina City
Built in 1572
Aside from being one of the most beautiful churches in Meto Manila, Our Lady of the Abandoned Parish Church is also known for holding Metro Manila’s longest procession during the Holy Week.
The church enshrines one of several images of the Madonna and Child venerated as miraculous, which has received a Pontifical decree of coronation. Its golden ceiling is painted with various images of Jesus' ministry. In 2003, Our Lady of the Abandoned was declared Patroness of the City and the Mother of Marikina’s Catholic Faith by virtue of Resolution No. 192, Series of 2003.
San Bartolome de Novaliches Parish
Dela Cruz, Corner Quirino Highway, San Bartolome, Quezon City
Built in 1605
Founded by Augustinian friars, the San Bartolome de Novaliches Parish was originally dedicated to Saint Bartholomew the Apostle. The church is known for its annual fiesta celebration and procession held every August.
Beyond the traditions of religion, the church also has a vibrant parish community with several programs and services for its members, including catechism classes, youth ministries, and social outreach programs.
San Felipe Neri Parish Church
A.T. Reyes Street, Corner Boni Avenue, Mandaluyong City
Built in 1863
One of the more recently built churches in this list, San Felipe Neri Parish Church is the mother church of Mandaluyong City. The church was originally built as a small chapel made of bamboo and nipa palm leaves but was rebuilt in stone to fit a Baroque-style architecture. It has a twin bell tower with pyramid roofs to boot.
San Felipe Neri Parish Church was once part of the Sta. Ana de Sapa before it was ordered to separate to form its own institution. Today, you can find this sanctuary nestled in nature.