Heritage Sites

Celebrate the Jubilee Year of Mercy: 6 Designated Holy Doors in the Philippines

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Choose Philippines | Mar 21, 2016

Holy Doors, as announced by Pope Francis himself, is an opportunity for Catholics to “obtain a plenary indulgence during the Year of Mercy,” as a way to detach oneself from sin, especially in this historic point in Catholic history. The Pope has designated several Holy Doors all over the world; literally anywhere Catholicism is present, you can easily find a Holy Door for pilgrimage. So this coming Semana Santa, offer your time of silence and reflection by visiting these Holy Doors in a city near you.

San Sebastian Cathedral of Bacolod City, Negros Occidental

The San Sebastian Cathedral of Bacolod City was built in 1876. It was originally a small chapel.

The present structure was constructed and inaugurated on January 20, 1882. It became a cathedral in 1933 and is one of the century-old churches found in Negros Occidental. During the 100th year anniversary of the cathedral, the centennial bells of San Sebastian Cathedral were brought down from the belfry and mounted on the right side of the church ground. You will also find the Palacio Episcopal, the bishop's palace and the seat of the diocese of the province, inside the grounds.

San Sebastian Cathedral is located at Rizal Street, Bacolod City, 6100. You can contact the church through this numbers: (+63) (34) 433-0240 and 433-0261. Titular: San Sebastian. Feast Day: January 20.

Saints Peter and Paul Parish of Bantayan Island, Cebu

No trip to Bantayan Island in Cebu is complete without seeing the historic and perhaps the oldest parish in Visayas and Mindanao, being founded in June of 1580. It is described by the Bantayan government website as “the most imposing historical structure in Bantayan. With its skillfully crafted architecture and well-preserved antiquity, the church is not just a hub of spiritual activities but is a tourist ‘must-see’ destination as well.”

Bantayan Island, apart from being a beautiful example of the bountiful natural wonders the Philippines possesses, also boasts of having a very rich and diverse cultural history.

National Shrine of Our Lady of Candles of Jaro, Iloilo

The first and only cathedral in Panay built in 1864, the Church of St. Elizabeth of Hungary, or commonly known as Jaro Cathedral and the National Shrine of Our Lady of Candles, is one of the oldest churches in Iloilo.

The Jaro Cathedral was once destroyed by a quake in January 1948 and was only restored in 1956 under the order of the first archbishop of Jaro, His Excellency Jose Ma. Cuenco. It came to be known as the St. Elizabeth of Hungary Metropolitan Cathedral in 1951 after the patroness of the Diocese of Jaro. The Marian image, which is over 400 years old, is the center of Jaro’s annual festival held every February 2. Her shrine is visited by devotees who believe it to be miraculous.

Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral of Cebu City

Cebu was established as a diocese on August 14, 1595 and was elevated to an archdiocese on April 28, 1934 with Gabriel Reyes as the first archbishop and the dioceses of Dumaguete, Maasin, Tagbilaran, and Talibon as suffragans. 

The patron saint of Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral is Saint Vitalis, an early Christian martyr whose feast day on April 28 coincides with the very same day the image of the Sto. Niño de Cebu was found almost 450 years ago by one of Miguel López de Legazpi’s men and the elevation of Cebu to an archdiocese.

The architecture of the church is typical of Spanish colonial churches in the country, namely, squat and with thick walls to withstand typhoons and other natural calamities. The facade features a trefoil-shaped pediment, which is decorated with carved relieves of floral motifs, an IHS inscription and a pair of griffins. The Spanish Royal Coat of Arms is emblazoned in low relief above the main entrance, reflecting perhaps the contribution of the Spanish monarch to its construction.

Parish Church of St. Anne of Molo, Iloilo

Constructed in 1831, the St. Anne Parish Church, also known as the Molo Church, is the only Gothic church in the Philippines outside of Manila. The church was built in 1831 under Fray Pablo Montaño and was completed in 1888 by Fray Agapito under the supervision of Don Jose Manuel Locsin. The church is made of white corral rock and is considered as one of the most attractive churches in the Philippines.

It's believed that Dr. Jose Rizal dropped by Molo on August 4, 1886 on his way back to Manila from his exile in Dapitan. Rizal visited his friend, Raymundo Melliza, who brought him to the church where he prayed and viewed the biblical painting collection that was once there. It is said that Rizal’s wrote an entry about Molo in his diary:

”We went to Molo to see the church painted by a lad who has left the locality. The church is pretty (Iglesia bonita) outside with paintings inside mostly copies of biblical scenes by Gustay Dore.”

Divine Mercy Church of Biluso, Cavite

The Cavite church may be famously known for being the site of the marriage between Irene (Cristine Reyes) and Natoy (Zanjoe Marudo) of the melodramatic family drama Tubig at Langis (2016). The diocesan shrine is under the Vicariate of Our Lady of Candelaria which heads the Catholic churches in Silang, Carmona, and General Mariano Alvarez.

Apart from entertainment, the teleserye was able to shed some light on the nuances of some aspects of Filipino culture, most especially our infatuation with beautiful churches, and our devout and passionate faith in general.

There are countless other Holy Doors all over the country: from QC, to Iloilo, to Virac, and to Laguna. For the complete list, visit this page.

This coming Semana Santa, always remember the true reason behind the sacrifices, Visitas Iglesia, and penance. Have a blessed Holy Week ahead!

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