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“Visita Iglesia”

The Visita Iglesia is a Holy Week custom of visiting seven churches on Holy Thursday to adore Jesus at the Altar of Repose. Seven is a sacred number in the Bible and Christian tradition. On the seventh day, God rested after creating for six days. Seven are the gifts of the Holy Spirit, seven are the spiritual and corporal works of mercy, seven are the sacraments.

The custom of “Visita Iglesia” goes back to the early Church when Christians would visit the seven great basilicas in Rome for adoration of the Blessed Sacrament after the Mass of the Lord’s Supper on Holy Thursday. The Sacramentary, the official altar book of the Church, says that after this Mass, “The faithful should be encouraged to continue adoration before the blessed sacrament for a suitable period of time during the night, according to local circumstances, but there should be no solemn adoration after midnight.”

There are no set prayers for the “Visita Iglesia”, that is left to each one’s creativity. However, it is good to note that it isa spiritual pilgrimage in which we are invited to reflect and pray as we accompany Jesus journeying through his Paschal Mystery.

“Visita Iglesia” is a practice in cities, where there are many churches, in countries as diverse as Malta, Poland, Ireland and the Philippines. Filipinos have brought it to places in North America that never had it before.

It is now the present practice among Filipinos to combine “Visita Iglesia” with the “Via Crucis.” Instead of visiting just seven Churches, they visit fourteen Churches to complete their “Via Crucis.”

Main Source: The Catholic Herald