Just a week before the Holy Week, our church (San Roque Parish of Cavite City) organized a pilgrimage tour in Bataan as part of their annual lent activity. Last year, I was part of the Pilgrimage tour held by San Isidro Labrador Parish in Naic, Cavite where we visited five churches in Zambales (Check : Zambales Pilgrimage Tour). This year, we went to explore the province of Bataan. I’ve been to Bataan several times last year and I instantly fell in love with its beauty. I went to Las Casas Filipinas De Acuzar in Bagac and I saw the Dambana ng Kagitingan in the town of Pilar. I also marveled the beauty of Mariveles Bataan after seeing the breathtaking Panoypoy Cove and the rock formation in Sisiman Bay.
This Bataan tour, however, has nothing to deal with beaches and hiking but merely a religious one. It is a visita iglesia, a Catholic tradition to visit seven or more churches every Lent season (particularly during Holy week). In each church, we have to recite one or two Stations of the Cross. So without further ado, allow me to list down all the churches we visited in Bataan. This is just a prologue entry so expect me to post more details and pictures about each church soon.
We actually started the tour by visiting the Shrine of Valor (Dambana ng Kagitingan) in the town of Pilar, Bataan. We went there on April 8th so we caught their staffs preparing for the the Araw ng Kagitingan celebration for the next day (April 9th). It’s the 75th year celebration and the Araw ng Kagitingan rites were lead by our president Duterte. Unlike my recent trip to the shrine (Check : Dambana ng Kagitingan in Bataan), we went here around 9 am so both Museum and the actual Shrine were both accessible. I’ll post more details about them soon.
1. San Miguel Arcangel Church / Orion Church in Orion, Bataan – Our pilgrimage officially started in Orion and first on our list is the San Miguel Arcangel Parish Church or better known as the Orion Church. Orion was established by the Dominican Priests on April 30, 1667. I was actually expecting to see a pink facade but it seems like they have changed it to beige. We were lucky enough to catch their Lenten exhibit that day. A mass presided by Fr Virgilio Parades were held as well.2. Our Lady of the Pillar Parish in Pilar , Bataan – We went back to the town of Pilar and went straight to Our Lady of Pillar Parish (Nuestra Señora Del Pilar Parish). The town is considered as one of the oldest towns in Bataan and I just learned that it was previously part of Pampanga. The town was named in honor of Our Lady of the Pillar. It was established in 1801.
3. Diocesan Shrine and Cathedral Parish of Saint Joseph / Balanga Cathedral in Balanga, Bataan – We headed to Balanga to visit the Cathedral. We were greeted by a great crowd because apparently, there was an ongoing confirmation so we had to wait for a little while for our turn. We were given few minutes to recite the two Stations of the Cross as there will be another batch of kids to receive their confirmation that day. What really amazes me are the buildings in front of the Cathedral. The Balanga City Hall and even the Robinsons Mall (Galleria Victoria) have a Venice-inspired architectural design.
4. Saint Dominic Parish Church / Abucay Church in Abucay, Bataan – Another old and historic church can be found in the town of Abucay. The parish church, founded by the Dominican Missionary Friars in 1588 and is dedicated to Saint Dominic of Guzman. The church housed one of the earliest printing presses in the Philippines and also witnessed massacre of hundreds of Filipinos and Spaniards by the Dutch Invaders in June 23, 1647.
5. Saint Peter of Verona Parish in Hermosa, Bataan – Next on our list is the stunning church in Hermosa Bataan which is dedicated to Saint Peter of Verona. Here, we are warmly welcomed by their parishioners and shared us a brief history about the miraculous image of Saint Peter. They even gave us details on some of the images that can be found on their retablo. The church features a baroque-style façade with stained-glasses windows. The major retablo of Hermosa is made more attractive by the variations of saints placed in it amid its dome.
6. Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary Parish Church/ Orani Church in Orani, Bataan – Located on the town proper of Orani is another historically significant church dedicated to Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary. It is simply and more popularly known as the Orani Church. The church was also declared as a pilgrim shrine in 2004. Located beside the Church is an ecclesiastical museum dedicated to Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary.
7. Archdiocesan Shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes In Bacolor, Pampanga – Okay, this is technically not in Bataan. We were supposed to visit the Saint Catherine Parish in Samal but the bridge going there was under construction and I don’t think it can handle 15 huge buses! So we were all settled to hit Pampanga for our last church destination. Aside from the half-buried church of San Guillermo, The Shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes is also popular pilgrim destination in Bacolor. We were warmly welcomed by their parishioners despite of arriving late and unexpectedly. They told us about the miraculous image of Our Lady of Lourdes. I also agree when he said that there is probably a great reason why we were brought in this church!
After spending some time in Bacolor, we all headed back to Cavite. I am going to post more details about each destination in my blog soon.
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You Can also check these recent Pilgrimages
►Western Cavite Pilgrimage Tour
►14 Churches in A Day : My Visita Iglesia 2017
►Batangas Pilgrimage Tour
►Zambales Pilgrimage Tour
►Manila Pilgrimage Tour
►Jubilee Churches In Manila / Pilgrim’s Passport