‘Virtual Visita Iglesia’ made possible via a decade-old website of CBCP

April 9, 2020 - 9:00 AM
Faithful gather outside a church to participate in an adoration during the Holy Week as the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues and churches are closed in Rome, Italy, April 6, 2020. (Reuters/Guglielmo Mangiapane)

The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) has a website that offers an interactive view of some of the churches in the Philippines so that the Filipino Catholics can still practice Visita Iglesia this Holy Week while at home.

Under the enhanced community quarantine rules, all types of social gatherings, including religious activities, are strictly prohibited to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus pandemic in the country.

The umbrella measure was supposed to end until April 12, however, President Rodrigo Duterte announced its extension until 11:59 p.m. of April 30 during his national address early this week.

The Catholic Church in the Philippines have since been holding Holy Mass celebrations through online livestreams to help Filipinos practice their faith at home.

Because the quarantine covers the Holy Week, several churches across the country have also come up with their respective schedules of activities and posted them on their social media accounts.

The Visita Iglesia, or the seven churches visitation, may still be observed at home through a website dedicated for the online celebration of Holy Week.

According to the website’s Facebook page, it was established way back in 2010. However, it appeared to become more popular because of the present circumstances caused by COVID-19 outbreak.

At the website’s homepage, users can easily choose scheduled livestreams for Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter Sunday.

Visita Iglesia
Screenshot by Interaksyon

One of its features is a virtual tour of selected churches wherein Filipinos can visit to observe their Visita Iglesia traditions. The virtual tour can also be experienced via YouTube.

The churches featured in the website are:

  1. San Agustin Church in Intramuros, Manila
  2. Our Lady of Guadalupe in Pagsanjan, Laguna
  3. Epiphany of the Lord Parish in Lingayen, Pangasinan
  4. Barasoain Church in Malolos, Bulacan

The website also offered the prayers for the 14 stations of “The Way of the Cross,” which are uttered during the Visita Iglesia activities.

The Way of the Cross Visita Iglesia
Screenshot by Interaksyon

Meanwhile, the Intramuros Administration said it would use its social media to ensure that the faithfuls can still observe Holy Week.

The walled city is often visited by pilgrims and tourists during Holy Week.

“In light of the need for physical distancing, we will use our social media accounts to ensure that the public can still take part in The Holy Week 2020 in Intramuros. We will be uploading photos of our chapels and churches’ interiors in addition to the Stations of the Cross at Fort Santiago on Holy Thursday so that you can visit these sites in the comfort of your home,” it said.

The Tourism Promotions Board Philippines, the marketing and promotions arm of the Department of Tourism, also posted photos of churches in Manila and Rizal as it promotes virtual Visita Iglesia tour.